KIA PI­CANTO

Driven - - Launched - Re­port by MONIQUE VANDERLINDEN | Im­ages © QUICKPIC

With the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion Pi­canto reach­ing more than 1.4 mil­lion in sales since 2011, mak­ing it one of Kia’s best-sell­ing mod­els, the third gen­er­a­tion Pi­canto will likely be well re­ceived in SA. With a semi-up­dated, sleek look, a more spa­cious in­te­rior, the largest cargo space in its class, and in­fo­tain­ment tech to com­pete more pre­mium brands, plus an at­trac­tive price tag, we are sure that South African buy­ers will hap­pily wel­come the lit­tle A-seg­ment stal­wart.

The up­dated Pi­canto is avail­able with two petrol en­gine op­tions– a 1.0-litre three-cylin­der, and a 1.2-litre four­pot – and in four spec­i­fi­ca­tion lev­els – START, STREET, STYLE and SMART, with pric­ing start­ing off at an at­trac­tive R134,995, and top­ping off at R195,995.

At the lo­cal launch held in Cape Town and sur­rounds, we not only had the op­por­tu­nity to drive both en­gine op­tions and some of the new de­riv­a­tives, but we could also com­pare them to the three pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of Pi­can­tos.

We started the launch route ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Pi­canto, to the nearby small town of Philadel­phia, where a brightly coloured range of the new Kia Pi­canto were wait­ing to be driven; among the six new colours avail­able to buy­ers is Lime Light, Shiny Red, Aurora Black, Pop Orange, Sparkling Sil­ver and a favourite, the Ce­les­tial Blue.

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

At first glance, the new Pi­canto looks sleeker with its up­dated face that can be cred­ited to the pro­jec­tion head­lights with LED day­time run­ning lights, LED in­di­ca­tors and a wider tiger-nose grille. The car also look more planted on the road with a slightly more ag­gres­sive stance, and the de­riv­a­tive we tested, the SMART, rides on 15” al­loy wheels, while other de­riv­a­tives are fit­ted with smaller rims or wheels.

Step­ping into the new Pi­canto di­rectly from the pre­vi­ous one, the main things that we no­ticed was the vastly im­proved cabin de­sign and qual­ity. The dash­board lay­out is now more cen­trally aligned and fea­tures a very tech-savvy colour 7” float­ing touch­screen that’s Blue­tooth ca­pa­ble and of­fers Ap­ple CarPlay, while be­ing An­droid Auto ready.

ROAD MAN­NERS

On the road, the up­dated model’s driv­ing feel is no­tice­ably en­hanced and re­fined. For one, the car han­dles cor­ners much eas­ier with the steer­ing re­sponse hav­ing im­proved a lot from the pre­vi­ous model, and the bulk of the road noise is can­celled out. Another very no­tice­able im­prove­ment is the sus­pen­sion – with the new Pi­canto de­liv­er­ing a much smoother ride all the way from Philadel­phia to Vrede en Lust Wine Es­tate.

For op­ti­mal safety when driv­ing, the high-spec mod­els also fea­ture a rear park­ing as­sist sys­tem, as well as elec­tri­cally fold­ing side door mir­rors. All mod­els, ex­cept the en­try-level mod­els, are equipped with an Anti-lock Brak­ing Sys­tem, as well as a driver and pas­sen­ger airbag; and all mod­els are fit­ted as stan­dard with ISOFIX child seat an­chors.

The Pi­canto also boasts the nec­es­sary nooks and cran­nies in the cabin for stor­ing every­thing from keys, your smart­phone to your wal­let and sun­glasses. There is an arm­rest for front pas­sen­gers, which can slide back and forth and cov­ers a small stor­age com­part­ment de­signed to ac­com­mo­date a sun­glass case.

LAST WORD

With a to­tal of 11 Pi­canto de­riv­a­tives to choose from across four trim lev­els, Kia is of­fer­ing some­thing for ev­ery­one who chooses to en­ter the mar­ket in the A-seg­ment. The range-top­ping model, which we tested on the launch, is ex­tremely im­pres­sive and of­fers every­thing a Pi­canto buyer may need for a safe a com­fort­able jour­ney. At R195,995, how­ever, it might be a bit rich for many in the in­tended tar­get au­di­ence. Fortunately, there are ten less ex­pen­sive de­riv­a­tives to choose from.

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