The new Picanto is expected to reach South Africa during the third quarter of this year.
The new Picanto is expected to reach South Africa during the third quarter of this year.

Frankfurt, Germany – After releasing the first pictures of its all-new Picanto at the beginning of this year, along with a small selection of details, Kia decided to play open cards on the new budget hatch at its European premiere held in Frankfurt recently, and the most exciting of those facts is that range-toppers will get the new 1-litre turbopetrol engine, also seen in the latest Rio.

Disclaimer: the South African engine line-up has yet to be confirmed so we don’t yet know if the turbo-triple is heading our way, and launch timing for the Picanto range has yet to be set in stone, although the local importer is hoping to introduce it during the third quarter.

Back to the turbo talk, those markets lucky enough to receive the 998cc direct injection turbopetrol will get it in 74kW form, with maximum torque of 127Nm. Keeping in mind that the car weighs just 993kg, the 10.1 second claimed 0-100km/h sprint time is perhaps just a touch conservative.

The turbo engine will only come on stream overseas during the fourth quarter of this year, so even if it does come here, expect a bit of a delay. As for the rest of the range, Kia will offer a familiar pair of normally aspirated four-cylinder engines, enhanced for efficiency and driveability. According to Kia, the 1-litre produces 49kW and 96Nm and the 1.25-litre is rated at 62kW/122Nm. This is a budget car, remember. The bigger of the two will be offered with an optional four-speed automatic transmission and a five-speed manual features as standard on all versions.

To improve on-road refinement, engineers tinkered with the suspension and fitted additional sound-deadening material. It should be safer too (not that the current one isn’t) considering that Kia has doubled the proportion of advanced high-strength steel used in the Picanto’s structure.

Measuring 3595mm in length and 1595mm in width, the new Picanto is the same size as its predecessor, but has been repackaged to offer more interior space, with the front overhang shortened and the wheelbase lengthened. The rear overhang has also stretched, to create a bigger boot – which grows by 55 litres to total 255, or 1000 litres with the rear seats folded flat.

While the exterior design could at best be described as evolutionary, trading some of its predecessor’s cheekiness for a more mature look, the interior appears to be all about revolution.

Inside it bears absolutely no resemblance to its predecessor and not only do the materials look much smarter (bearing in mind we’re relying on pictures of the range-topping model), but the new cabin is on top of its technological game too, with a 17.8cm touch-screen infotainment system taking pride of place above the central air vents. The system offers 3D navigation as well as full smart-phone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with wireless phone charging.

Kia promises that its new baby will be a lot more customisable than before, with customers abroad able to choose from 11 exterior colours (including some ‘vibrant’ new ones), four alloy wheel designs and five cabin colour schemes, the latter featuring contrast man-made leather upholstery and stitching.

Flashiest of all the options is the ‘GT-Line’ specification trim, which brings a sportier steering wheel, choice of interior colours and a few exterior garnishes, including chrome-tipped twin exhausts as well as grille, side skirt and rear valance highlights in black, silver and red.

South African specifications and pricing will be announced closer to launch.

IOL Motoring

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