Pi­canto pick-up

Kia fills a value niche af­ter a Rio up­grade, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

THE tiny Kia Pi­canto will be­come the South Korean brand’s price leader in Aus­tralia. The com­pact Rio is go­ing up in size and price later this year, fol­low­ing the Hyundai i20 across the $15,000 bar­rier, and the Pi­canto will fill its value spot.

A new Pi­canto will be re­vealed next month at the Geneva Mo­tor Show, when Kia will also pull the cov­ers off its next Rio.

But Kia Aus­tralia is al­ready push­ing hard to en­sure the Pi­canto is an early ar­rival, even though it re­fuses to con­firm its plan.

‘‘ So we are con­sid­er­ing very se­ri­ously for the P i c a n t o , ’ ’ says M. K. Kim, the head of Kia in Aus­tralia.

‘‘Per­son­ally, I would like to bring it as soon as pos­si­ble but I’m not sure when they can re­lease that car for the Aus­tralian mar­ket. They have to con­sider the vol­ume.’’

The Pi­canto has been as­sessed and re­jected sev­eral times in the past, partly be­cause the old car was not suit­able for Aus­tralia and partly be­cause it would have gone up against the Rio.

‘‘I think this is now the right time to bring the Pi­canto,’’ says Kim.

‘‘At the time, at the for­mer price, it would not have been a big dif­fer­ence in the re­tail price. This is an all-new model in Geneva. It is built in South Korea.’’

Kim sees a show­room ad­van­tage in the Pi­canto but de­nies it is part of any block­ing move against low­priced Chi­nese brands, which be­gin to ar­rive in Aus­tralia later this year.

‘‘Last year, when I vis­ited the Bei­jing Mo­tor Show, I thought ‘the Chi­nese are com­ing’ and will be a big threat to Hyundai and Kia. But not right now. I think it will take four to five years.

‘‘The Chi­nese will be at the very bot­tom. Kia is look­ing to move up a bit in the scale.’’

Fresh: Pi­canto is an all-new model.

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