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New Kia Picanto range leaps forward

Hot-stamping technology strengthens the car’s core structure and passenger cell.

Kia South Africa this week introduced the new Picanto to the South African market with an updated exterior design and enhanced construction technology.

A key enahncement to the range is its focus on safety features, to the extent that Kia claims it to be “arguably the safest vehicle in the A-segment”.

As much as 44% of the Picanto’s bodyshell is cast in Advanced High-strength Steel (AHSS), specifically to reinforce the floor pan, roof rails, A- and B-pillars and engine bay. This strengthens the car’s core structure and passenger cell through hot-stamping technology. The engineering is complemented by features like an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), ISOFIX child seat anchors and dual front airbags as standard across the range.

“The Picanto is undoubtedly a mainstay in the Kia product line-up and has for many years been recognised … as one of the best cars you can buy in the entry-level A-segment,” says Gary Scott, CEO of Kia South Africa. 

“With more than 100,000 units sold since the very first generation was introduced locally in 2004, the Picanto is just about everyone’s favourite Kia. The new model builds on a remarkable legacy and sets the range up for even bigger successes as it embraces the notion of always moving forward.”

The new Picanto’s exterior design is inspired by Kia’s Opposites United design philosophy, which, it says, “harnesses the creative tension generated by the divergent values of nature and modernity to deliver a harmonious whole”.

At the front, the new Picanto gains a new light signature, a new front bumper, an updated iteration of Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille, and a revised fender and bonnet, all combining to create a new visage that assists in giving Picanto “a wide, confident stance”. At the rear, this stance is reiterated through redesigned taillights that are horizontally connected just beneath the rear windscreen, giving Picanto a new rear light signature that complements the redesigned rear bumper.

The Picanto retains a height of 1,495 mm, length of 3,595 mm and width of 1,595 mm. Based on the intelligent engineering that underpins it, its platform maximises opportunity for a longer wheelbase (2,400 mm) and longer rear overhang, thereby freeing up more space in the cabin and boot. Despite the compact dimensions, Picanto still offers excellent leg- and headroom. Ride comfort is ensured through a combination of a MacPherson strut set-up at the front and a coupled torsion beam axle at the rear.

Depending on the grade, three different wheel design options are available, ranging from 14-inch steel wheels with stylish covers to 14- and 15-inch alloy wheel options. As part of its refresh, a variety of updated colours are also available. Complementing perennial favourites like Clear White, Sparkling Silver metallic, Aurora Black Pearl, Astro Grey metallic and Signal Red, Picanto gains three new colour options in Sporty Blue metallic, Smoke Blue metallic and Adventurous Green metallic.

Inside, the centrally aligned dashboard retains the floating 8-inch colour touchscreen as its main focal point, ensuring that many of the car’s controls are intuitively positioned to reduce distracted driving. Black cloth-upholstered seats are standard, while higher specification models are fitted as standard with two-tone black and grey leather upholstery.

The new Kia Picanto retains the familiar 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre petrol engines the range is renowned for. Both engines feature improved exhaust gas recirculation lines and optimised intake valve timing. In addition, each engine provides improved combustion chamber cooling thanks to new improvements made in this field, in combination maximising efficiency and lower CO2 emissions.

The fuel-efficient 1.0 MPI three-cylinder engine produces 49 kW of power at 5,500 r/min and 95 Nm torque at 3,750 r/min, while the four-cylinder 1.25-litre engine develops 62 kW of power at 6,000 r/min and 122 Nm of torque at 4,000 r/min. Customers have a choice between a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.

As part of the introduction of the new Picanto, Kia has also repositioned the entire range in line with its approach to offer customers maximum choice across a compact range without compromising on standard specification or value for money. In line with its most recent model editions, the Start, Street, and Style nomenclatures of the outgoing range fall away in favour of a standardised naming convention.

Kia provided the following information on the new models:

The Picanto LX.

The new Picanto LX takes all the best features of the outgoing Picanto Start and Picanto Street to create a new high-value model as entry point into the Picanto range. The higher specification levels in this model is a direct result of extensive research amongst existing customers as well as target customers in the segment, and a true reflection of Picanto’s always forward attitude when it comes to urban mobility and the freedom that comes with movement.

“As with our other model ranges, there is very little that is ‘entry-level’ about the new Picanto LX,” says Stephen Crosse, sales and marketing director of Kia South Africa. “Customers have varying reasons for wanting a compact car that is reliable and efficient, but what is clear to us is that their discerning tastes leave no room for compromises on quality, reliability and features. As a new entry-point into the Picanto range, the LX model packs a significant value punch that few segment competitors can rival.”

LX models come standard with body-coloured bumpers and trim for the electrically adjustable, heated side mirrors. Remote central locking is a standard inclusion, along with an alarm and immobiliser, as is keyless entry. Inside, black cloth upholstery is standard, with height adjustment for the driver’s seat. The leather-clad steering wheel can be adjusted for rake, with the second-row seatbacks split 60: 40 to create more or less cargo space as required. Electric windows are on offer all around, with automatic up/down functionality for the driver’s window, as well as a safety function that stops the window from closing fully if it detects something in the way. Manual air-conditioning is also included as standard.

An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system takes pride of place on the dashboard, incorporating a reverse camera that is activated when the vehicle is in Reverse and features dynamic guidance lines for reverse parking. The Picanto infotainment system includes Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with steering wheel-mounted controls for telephony and audio. Four speakers are standard, as is a USB port in the front.

The Picanto EX.

The mid-tier Picanto EX replaces the outgoing Picanto Style model and builds on the solid foundation its new LX sibling has laid. Exterior enhancements are limited to the standard inclusion of a new 14-inch alloy wheel and side repeater lamps that are incorporated into the electric folding side mirrors. Inside, a storage box is added between the two front seats, while the rear seats gain a rear occupant alert function. Drivers also gain the benefit of an upgraded 4,2-inch Supervision TFT cluster and automatic light control, with two additional tweeter speakers included as well. From a safety perspective, Picanto EX models also gain ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and HAC (Hill-start Assist Control).

The Picanto EX Plus.

With the global introduction of the new Picanto range, the much-loved X-Line derivative has been discontinued in favour of the sportier GT-Line derivative. However, after much research and feasibility studies for the local market, Kia South Africa has opted to not include a GT-Line derivative at this point in time.

Instead, Kia has introduced a new range-topping derivative in the Picanto line-up in the form of an EX Plus specification. As is to be expected, the EX Plus retains all the features available in the Picanto EX and gains a Smart Key with push-button start/stop, an illuminated vanity mirror for the driver, automatic climate control, park distance warning sensors at the rear, artificial leather upholstery, and high-gloss trims on the centre fascia. On the outside, the EX Plus model gains LED rear combination lights and 15-inch alloy wheels.

Kia Picanto 1.0 LX Manual:R 260,995
Kia Picanto 1.0 LX Auto:R 278,995
Kia Picanto 1.2 EX Manual: R 284,995
Kia Picanto 1.2 EX Auto:R 302,995
Kia Picanto 1.2 EX Plus Manual:R 307,995
Kia Picanto 1.2 EX Plus Auto:R 325,995

All Picanto models ship as standard with Kia’s Unlimited Kilometre/5-year warranty, inclusive of Roadside Assistance. In addition, a pre-paid 2-year / 30,000 km service plan is included. A variety of plan extension options are available at point of sale through Kia Financial Services.

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