Tidy trio on the way
The baby Kia hatch is essentially a tide-over model until the arrival of a new version next year, Kia — in common with all the players in the micro car market — will be hoping sales have rebounded by then.
The Picanto shows its age with transmissions (four-speed auto and five-speed manual) that aren’t cutting edge and some safety features are absent.
In terms of basic driving behaviour, the Kia more than holds its own. The Picanto steers and handles safely, the 1.25-litre four-cylinder isn’t averse to revving.
Rear passenger space is above average and a small cargo area is the main concession the Picanto makes for its size.
If it is priced at the expected $13,490 for the manual ($14,990 auto), it could meet Kia’s 300-amonth sales forecasts, given its seven-year warranty and capped price servicing.
Mid-month. BMW has been late to the hybrid party (it’s a bit like a Clayton’s party) in Australia but its first hybrid SUV is a smart move. The X5 40e’s $118,900 starting price matches its diesel counterpart and then whips its sibling’s tailpipe on emissions.
The hybrid uses a claimed 3.3L/100km, despite cranking out 230kW/450Nm from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo and electric motor.
Standard gear includes adaptive suspension, reversing camera, powered tailgate, automated parking, adaptive cruise control and top-of-therange satnav.
It handles better than most anything this big. Its low-slung battery pack shouldn’t hurt the centre of gravity.
The lithium-ion array below the cargo hold doesn’t take up too much room, with 500L left for luggage.
BMW claims a 6.8-second time for the 0-100km/h run.
End of month. Wagon versions of the fourringed make’s small sedan are due this month priced from a predicted $64,000. That puts the Avant at a $3000 premium to the regular 2.0-litre fourcylinder petrol sedan.
Expect a similar jump beyond the $69,900 needed to get behind the wheel of the performance 2.0-litre sedan with all-wheel drive.
The specification is impressive. There are 8.3-inch screen with satnav, digital audio and support for Apple Carplay and Android Auto, powered front seats, LED headlamps and tri-zone climate control.
The quattro sport model goes up a rim size to 19-inch Audi Sports wheels, adds sports suspension to match the upgraded engine’s 185kW/370Nm and has powered folding side mirrors. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard for front and all-wheel drive models.
If Audi follows the sedan route, both Avant versions will have a $1900 assistance upgrade bundling adaptive cruise control, collision warning, active lane assist and turn assist.
End of month.