2017 Kia Picanto Launch Review

All-new Kia Picanto Road Test and Review…

The Kia Picanto landed for the first time in Australia in 2015, now Kia Australia has a new-generation model to offer Australian micro-car buyers.

I have had a drive of the new model and I’m pleased to say that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this car is there when we are talking 2017 Car of the Year.

Kia has managed to take the Picanto to a new level in this new model.

Built on an all new platform, all that carries over from the previous generation offering is the engine and transmission, everything else is new.

That means a more robust look, especially at the front, a completely rejigged interior and a slightly larger cabin.

The added interior space, which see front seat passengers enjoy an additional 15mm of legroom and 15mm of shoulder room, comes by way of a slightly longer wheelbase.

Other than a slightly higher roof line (+6mm), 2017 Kia Picanto external dimensions remain the same.

One area where the new model has a big advantage over the old one is steering and suspension feel.

The new one has benefited from Australian-specific testing and tuning and that means the car is more competent and capable on our local roads.

A stiffer chassis and more sound absorption help make the little Kia even more user friendly.

While it’s good to see that the new Kia model also boasts torque vectoring and straight line stability systems, these also help keep the Picanto happily on the asphalt.

New colours, including the distinctive Lime Green and Pop Orange, also feature.

On the roads the new Kia Picanto is right up there with the yardstick of the micro-car segment - Holden’s Spark.

The engine gives you good acceleration for around town driving and was comfortable enough at higher speeds.

The standard transmission is a five-speed manual (the first time manual has been offered in the Picanto), while the four-speed auto transmission carries over.

I had a long drive in the auto and while it probably could do with an extra ratio, for most applications it is adequate.

Ride, handling and steering all impressed and this again shows that the money the manufacturers invest into local testing and tuning is money well spent.

Fuel economy is also better than reasonable - as low as 5.3L/100km manual, 5.8L/100km auto (combined).

Apple Carplay and Android Auto feature as standard, along with a reverse camera, rear parking sensors and auto headlights.

Comfort levels in the cabin are generally better than you might expect, though the lack of a centre arm rest always drops comfort down a notch or two.

I would say the door arm rest is also a bit too hard.

Other than that, for a micro-car, you can’t really fault the interior, especially the overall space and comfort of the seats.

Alloy wheels would be a handy addition, Kia tell us these will be available as option extras (though no prices yet confirmed) and Autonomous Emergency Braking would also be very welcome.

On the AEB tech, Kia representatives tell us they have asked for it, they are now awaiting head office in Korea to sign off on that (watch this space).

While ANCAP is yet to crash test the new Kia Picanto so we can’t advise on the overall Picanto safety credentials.

Summing it up; It’s a good move by Kia to strengthen its line-up down in the ‘entry point’ to the range.

A micro-car that has a good feel about it, reasonable pricing and fun and funky styling, we’re sure Kia won’t have too much trouble convincing Australian car buyers.

As I said at the top, especially taking the pricing into account, I expect us to be talking more about the new Picanto when we have our Car of the Year discussions.

Oh, and don’t forget the ongoing benefits of the seven-year warranty and seven-year capped pricing servicing.

NUTS and BOLTS - 2017 Kia Picanto

Engine: 1.25 litre petrol producing 62kW/122Nm

Transmission: Five-speed manual or four-speed automatic

Safety: Not tested

Warranty: Seven years

Origin: South Korea

Price: from $14,190(manual) and then $15,690 drive-away (automatic)

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