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.
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.
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.
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.