The Kia Picanto is based on a shortened platform of the Hyundai Getz and is the first generation for the South Africa market. The first generation model was released in the European market in the spring of 2004 and Kia has just launched its all-new Kia Picanto in South Africa. With an all-new design, more economical engines, an improved array of standard features and a more upmarket interior, the new Kia Picanto aims to unsettle a few players in the A-segment.
The Kia Picanto has owned it own fair share of the market in Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom. What makes the Picanto so distinct is its interior features; an all-black dashboard and door trims, a sporty steering wheel and dials backlit in orange.
The Kia has a six-strong model line-up consisting of a five-door body style, with two engines (1.0-litre and 1.1-litre) and a choice of four trims: base, 2, Ice and 3. Late in Europe 2007 slight changes were made to the Picanto model. Some of the changes included the light front and rear clusters as well as a new front end, with round headlights, softer bumpers and a redesigned grille. For the UK market, the indicator stalk was switched to the other side.
The cabin itself is better than what you’d expect at the asking price. The materials feel of a high quality, and all the controls are easy to operate and seem sturdier than those of some of its competitors. The upmarket look and deep-set layout of the instruments add to the big-car feel.
It has a good driving position adjustable for the steering wheel and a height-adjustable seat. It provides for fair passenger space in the rear, and has a 157-litre boot and useful cabin stowage space.Air-con and central locking are also standard, as are a driver’s airbag and Isofix anchor points, but unfortunately ABS features only on the range-topping 1,2 EX.
At first glance, it’s clear the feminine image that plagued the previous-generation Picanto has made way for sharper lines and a more grown-up appearance, which help give this hatchback broader appeal. The large headlamps, oversized lower air intake and Kia’s familiar tiger-nose grille make this small car look unlike anything else in this class. Kia believes that the new bold styling and cleaner, classier cabin means that the Picanto is now a “small car, grown-up”. “It is such a complete car, such a high quality package, offering numerous premium features and multiple trim choices, that it will raise the fundamental perception of A-segment models to a higher level.
Technical data overview
This five-door model comes fully loaded with a variety of goodies. While style matters, the Picanto is more than just style; it is equipped with a range of safety features including the Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Twin airbags and its inside is defined with a CD audio system and a MP3 player at your fingertips as well as power steering.
Its skinny tyres allows for a decent grip on the road with better body control kept in check and it is very capable and stable on the open roads and at motorway speeds too, even if wind noise can be a little intrusive. It tends to respond noticeably over potholes and uneven surfaces and gives minimum feedback through the steering, and is easy to manoeuvre into tight spaces.
The 1.1-litre engine does not make it a performance car, but an economic car, especially for driving around town. While its acceleration is not majestic, it has a fair gear performance. At high revs, the unit is short on refinement and would need care and a sensitive touch. It has a sensitive throttle. It’s quieter both at idle and on the move.
Renowned as one of the most economic cars, the KIA Picanto has a very low carbon emission of 117g per km, thanks to its advanced engine technology. It is compact on the outside and very spacious on the inside.Under the bonnet lies a three cylinder 1,0-litre petrol engine with a maximum power output of 51 kW and a torque figure of 94 N.m that is mated with a four-speed automatic transmission. This combination does not feel particularly potent at cruising speeds but is well-suited to town driving.