The third generation of the Picanto is KIA’s biggest news at the 2017 Geneva show. Most (but not all) manufacturers are moving towards turbocharging, even in small cars, and KIA is following suit with a new 1.0l turbocharged ‘T-GDI’ three cylinder engine. Apart from the new engine, there are also the familiar atmospheric 1.0l and 1.25l four cylinder options. Similarly on-trend is that the new A-segment city car is only available in five-door form, with no three-door option.
Styling changes are evolutionary rather than revolutionary, as the previous generation’s Peter Schreyer design was well-received. It does feature a more aggressive face, while the sporty GT-line trim adds red, silver and black highlights in the grille and twin exhausts. Outside dimensions remain the same, but the wheelbase is stretched by 15mm for more rear legroom and a larger boot, at 255 litres. Folding the 60:40 split rear seats flat increases the capacity to 1010 litres. The latter can be done with a one-touch lever and there is a moveable boot floor.
The new Picanto gets a completely redesigned dashboard with a more horizontal look and a free-standing 7” touch screen infotainment system. Optional features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, a USB port and wireless phone charging facilities. As usual for a small city car, KIA offers a range of vibrant upholstery colours. The GT-line gets a somewhat overambitious flat-bottom steering wheel.
Although there are still some cheap materials in the interior like the black plastic surround for the infotainment screen, the Picanto’s cabin does now feel like quite a nice place to be. Rear legroom is indeed good, with ample headroom.
In terms of safety, the Picanto comes with six airbags and stability control as standard, while knee airbags and ‘Autonomous Emergency Braking’ are options. The stability control does feature torque vectoring by braking for improved stability and reduced understeer, a rare feature in the segment.
KIA is offering three engine options. The 1.0l and 1.25l naturally-aspirated engines have been carried over from the old model. They come with 66 and 83bhp and put out 89 and 104g/km of CO2, respectively. Most rivals have offered turbocharged engines for a while, so KIA is following suit with its 1.0l ‘T-GDI’ three-cylinder with 99bhp and 127lb ft. Fuel consumption and emissions for the new engine are as yet unconfirmed .
Five-speed manual transmissions are standard across the range, with a four-speed torque converter automatic available on the 1.25l four-cylinder. Smart ForFour and Renault Twingo rivals offer a more sophisticated six-speed double-clutch auto, but the KIA’s traditional automatic might well be more pleasant in the city than the single-clutch automated gearboxes in the VW Up! and Peugeot 108.
Suspension is very similar to the outgoing model, with incremental changes to the MacPherson struts at the front and rear torsion beam. The steering is now 13% faster, yielding 2.8 turns lock-to-lock. Kia has also worked on refinement, making it quieter at all speeds.
The new KIA Picanto will go on sale in spring 2017 with KIA’s usual 7-Year, 100,000 mile warranty. Prices are still to be announced. KIA used to be the budget choice, so it remains to be seen whether this will still be the case. Especially the stinger saloon suggests that they want a piece of the premium pie.
For a quick run-through of the key points, watch the video from the Geneva show floor.