Kia’s new hope
This small city car could sell for a little over $13,000, writes Paul Gover
The funky style with a chiselled nose is becoming typical of the brand
ANEW Kia price fighter could open the batting for the Korean brand before the end of 2011. The baby Picanto is being assessed for a starting spot in Australia as the next Rio, now priced from $ 14,990, is moved a little higher in the line-up.
The Picanto would likely have a $13,000-ish bottom line with the larger Rio moving beyond $15,000 with more safety and luxury equipment as standard.
‘‘We’re looking at it. It’s not off the table,’’ says Kia Australian spokesman Kevin Hepworth.
The five-door Picanto hatch is called a city car by Kia and is revealed this week from Seoul ahead of its full-scale unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
Pictures from Kia show a car with the funky style that is becoming typical of the brand, with a chiselled nose and a compact body.
‘‘ The new Picanto features significant sculpting and a very prominent rising character line,’’ says Kia’s charismatic chief designer, Peter Schreyer.
‘‘The result is a layering of light and shadow and this breaks up the height, giving the car a more sure-footed stance,’’
Mechanically, the car is based on the Hyundai i20 that is already on sale in Australia.
The i20 is priced from $15,490 with a 1.4-litre engine.
Kia says the Picanto is substantially different to the i20, and a significant improvement over the previous-generation Picanto that was passed up for Australian sales. It is larger than the earlier Picanto and is likely to come only as a fivedoor hatch, although there are plans for a three-door sporty model in Europe.
If the Picanto comes to Australia it will be built in Korea, but there is no hint yet on the mechanical package.
The car is being built with both 1.0 and 1.2-litre engines, with LPG bio-flex and flex-fuel systems fitted for some countries.
Hepworth says Kia will make an early decision on any Picanto plan.
‘‘If a decision is made to go forward with the vehicle, we would take it at the first opportunity — possibly by the end of this year,’’ he says.
Bottom of the heap: Kia is keen to bring the Picanto to Australia as a bargain-basement starter car.