Tidy trio on the way

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Launch Pad -

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.

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