Look­ing sharp

Kia Pi­canto GT oozes con­fi­dence

Albany Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Derek Og­den

For those who don’t mind pay­ing a pre­mium price for a lit­tle car with a name like a pizza, the ad­di­tion of the GT-Line . . . is a chance to stand out from the pack.

Since it was launched 12 months ago, the Kia Pi­canto has taken up a po­si­tion at the lead­ing edge of the Aus­tralian light-car mar­ket.

In Jan­uary, that edge was sharp­ened with the ad­di­tion of a spe­cial-edi­tion des­ig­nated GT-Line to mark Kia’s spon­sor­ship of the Aus­tralian Ten­nis Open.

Such was the pop­u­lar­ity of the sporty Pi­canto, the new “top seed” has been made a per­ma­nent fix­ture of the team, at $17,290, plus on-road costs.

Al­ready re­plete with fea­tures fol­low­ing a sub­stan­tial up­grade in equip­ment, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tion of Ap­ple CarPlay, An­droid Auto, cruise con­trol, dusk-sens­ing head­lamps, driver’s safety win­dow and dy­namic park­ing guide­lines, the third gen­er­a­tion has been given added ap­peal.

It has taken on 16-inch al­loy wheels, pre­mium seats with red ac­cents, al­loy sports ped­als, sixs­peaker sound sys­tem, LED po­si­tion lamps and day­time run­ning lights, as well as the GT-Line trim pack­age with con­trast­ing body ac­cents, dual ex­haust tip and body kit.

The Pi­canto GT-Line is avail­able in au­to­matic only and comes in Clear White or three pre­mium colours ($520 op­tion), Aurora Black, Ti­ta­nium Sil­ver or Sig­nal Red. The test car was Clear White with stylish red em­bel­lish­ments.

In pedi­gree terms, the Pi­canto owes more to the Ital­ian stand-tall styling of the Fiat 500, rather than the squat Bri­tish Mini stance.

The wheel­base is rel­a­tively long, 2400mm, so the wheels have been po­si­tioned more to the cor­ners, giv­ing the Pi­canto not only rea­son­able in­ter­nal space, but also a gen­er­ous hug to the road.

There is no mis­tak­ing the Kia GT-Line’s pedi­gree, with strong, straight lines across the front of the car em­pha­sis­ing the com­pany's trade­mark tiger-nose grille and new wrap­around head­lamps.

Ver­ti­cal lines of the side air in­takes and a sep­a­rate lower grille re­in­force the Pi­canto’s con­fi­dence in its new face.

At 3595mm, the lat­est Kia Pi­canto is no longer than its pre­de­ces­sor but side skirts and a sculpted body sur­fac­ing ap­pear to have stretched the car.

The wide C-pil­lars are quite up­right, com­bin­ing with a longish rear over­hang to give this tid­dler a con­fi­dent look.

Pre­dom­i­nantly hor­i­zon­tal, the de­sign adds vis­ual width to the in­te­rior, high­light­ing a big­ger cabin. The dash­board is more cen­tral, with a 7.0-inch touch­screen ap­pear­ing to float above the cen­tre con­sole en­abling many of the car’s con­trols to be moved higher into the driver’s line of sight.

A satin sil­ver strip runs across the dash for a qual­ity look, with large, ver­ti­cal air vents book­end­ing the front of the pas­sen­ger com­part­ment. The base of the dash­board has been moved up­wards by 15mm for greater knee room for front oc­cu­pants.

The 7.0-inch touch­screen at the cen­tre of the dash­board is avail­able with Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto for full smart­phone in­te­gra­tion. A rear-view park­ing cam­era with dy­namic guide­lines is also stan­dard. The GT-Line is driven by a 1.25-litre engine, pro­duc­ing 62kW of power at 6000rpm and 122Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

The engine drives the front wheels through a four-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

The stronger (by 44 per cent), lighter body is backed up by six airbags — front, front side and cur- tain — as well as a range of ac­tive safety fea­tures. Th­ese in­clude stan­dard ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity man­age­ment with elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol for driv­ing con­fi­dence un­der brak­ing and cor­ner­ing.

Kia’s renowned Aus­tralian ride and han­dling team has gone through the Pi­canto, with the longer wheel­base pre­sent­ing a more re­fined ride, sportier char­ac­ter­is­tics and de­ci­sive steer­ing.

How­ever, pot­holes still re­sult in the odd bang from time to time.

The GT-Line, es­pe­cially fron­ton, looks the part of a sporty lit­tle hatch­back but just can­not squeeze enough power out of the lit­tle mo­tor to get the driv­ing juices flow­ing.

It’s com­pe­tent enough tootling around town and that’s it.

De­spite the maker’s claim to have im­proved cabin in­su­la­tion, the lat­ter was ac­com­pa­nied by a deal of tyre noise from the con­crete sur­faced roads, as was the case on coarse bi­tu­men road sur­faces.

The straight-backed stance means there is am­ple head room in the rear for av­er­age-size pas­sen­gers and the abil­ity to max­imise the 255 litres of lug­gage space. This is easily in­creased to 1010 litres by fold­ing the 60:40 sec­ond-row seat backs.

The Pi­canto is os­ten­si­bly a fiveseater, but shoul­der space out back is very lim­ited with three adult pas­sen­gers abreast. Legroom in the rear is min­i­mal if tall folks are in the front. The head­rests are ad­justable ver­ti­cally — rare in this grade of ve­hi­cle.

Kia puts of­fi­cial fuel con­sump­tion at 5.8L/100km on the com- bined ur­ban/high­way cy­cle.

With a full load, on city streets, the test GT-Line fuel con­sump­tion flipped over 7L/100km, while on the mo­tor­way it was down to 5.2L/100km.

For those who do not mind pay­ing a pre­mium price for a lit­tle car with a name like a pizza, the ad­di­tion of the GT-Line to the Pi­canto range as a per­ma­nent of­fer­ing is a chance to stand out from the pack.

And the seven-year war­ranty weighs in with a huge bonus. Your lo­cal Kia dealer is Al­bany Au­tos 9841 4555.

A satin sil­ver strip runs across the dash gives a qual­ity look, while large air vents book­end the front seats.

The Kia Pi­canto GT-Line comes up short on per­for­mance, if not on looks.

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