This changed with the unveiling of the second generation Picanto in 2011, which also resulted in global sales totalling 1.4-million units. Now though, there is a new Picanto and I travelled to Cape Town to find out if it has what it takes to remain one of the most popular Kia models to date.
The first generation Picanto was a bit of a hit and miss in terms of styling. The second generation however featured a more youthful yet modern design which seemed to be just what the public wanted.
This new model builds on that with a seemingly more mature design, the result of a collaboration between Kia’s design centres in Namyang, South Korea and Frankfurt, Germany.
The front end features strong, straight lines which run horizontally across the front of the car There is also the trademark tiger-nose grille and new headlights as well as a distinctive line down the side and around the wheel arches. At the rear, the Picanto features a revised bumper and taillights. The engineers have also increased the width of the C-pillar which now stands more upright than that of the previous model.
When I got into the Picanto, I was impressed with the layout of the dash. I immediately got a sense that Kia were trying to play the premium card.
This is due to the stylish design of the dashboard which features a snazzy satin chrome-effect strip, the new top mounted infotainment screen and nicely designed climate control dials. The instrument cluster also features a more up-to date look with the same going for the steering wheel.
About that infotainment system
As mentioned, one of the cabin’s standouts, on high spec models that is, is the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system incorporating Bluetooth, USB and Aux inputs, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Lower spec models make do with a 3.8-inch monochrome TFT LCD display.
On the launch, I got the opportunity to put the Picanto through various scenarios which included navigating the narrow streets of the Cape Town CBD, as well as heading out into the wine lands to fully exploit its talents.
There are two engine options available; a 49kW/95Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder and a 61kW/122Nm 1.2-litre four-cylinder. While they might not be the most powerful motors around, the Picanto does weigh less than the previous model, with the former motor also benefitting from a new cooling system and shut-off valve.
All models are fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard with a four-speed automatic optional on some versions.
From Start to Smart
At launch, the Picanto will be available in a choice of four trim levels mimicking those of the Soul. The base Start gets a two-speaker Bluetooth enabled sound system with USB and Aux inputs, trip computer, dual front airbags and air-conditioning but importantly, does not feature ABS while the next step up Street receives front electric windows, remote central locking and ABS.
Building on this, the Style adds a four-speaker sound system, steering wheel audio controls, projection type headlights with daytime running LEDs, 14-inch alloy wheels and automatic lights. At the top of the range, the Smart benefits from 15-inch alloys, Bluetooth with voice activation, electric rear windows, bi-projection headlights, the aforementioned infotainment system, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, reverse camera and rear parking sensors.
After spending time with the new Kia Picanto, I can conclude that it remains an attractive option within the A-segment. I like the styling, the features and the range of new colours. I also found the ride and handling impressive considering its size.
It’s no high speed cruiser though and did feel a bit out of its comfort zone when rushed. Considering one? I would, especially when the price remains virtually unchanged from the previous model.
Picanto 1.0 Start - R134 995
Picanto 1.0 Street - R149 995
Picanto 1.0 Style - R159 995
Picanto 1.0 Style AT - R172 995
Picanto 1.0 Smart - R179 995
Picanto 1.2 Start - R150 995
Picanto 1.2 Start AT - R163 995
Picanto 1.2 Street - R165 995
Picanto 1.2 Style - R175 995
Picanto 1.2 Syle AT - R188 995
Picanto 1.2 Smart - R195 995
A five-year / unlimited km warranty is standard across the Picanto range with a service plan being optional.