All-new Kia Picanto images released ahead of mid-year launch
KIA'S pint-sized Picanto city car arrived in Australia for the first time in April last year.
If you were in the market for a new car as your first car, we asked if you could really ask for more.
It had cheeky good looks, was genuinely fun to drive and came with 5 Star crash safety. Being a Kia it also had a seven-year warranty, plus cost just $15,000 drive away with an automatic gearbox. Compelling stuff.
Only trouble was by the time Australia received the 63kW/120Nm 1.3-litre four-cylinder Picanto it was already quite an old car, it having been on sale overseas for nearly five years.
It was all about getting the nameplate established here in Australia though, as Kia knew an updated variant would be coming within 12 months.
And now we know what it looks like. What is actually the third generation Picanto is due to launch in Australia by mid-2017, following its official unveiling in the metal at the Geneva Motor Show this March.
Kia says the new car "combines a youthful and energetic new exterior and interior design and greater potential for customer personalisation, inside and out."
The Korean brand has released an image of the new Picanto's cabin in overseas left-hand drive guise, saying it has "a suite of high-tech comfort, convenience and safety features underscored by a modern and refined new cabin design with smarter packaging efficiency."
Of most note is a new "floating" touchscreen infotainment system at the heart of the cabin, which Kia says makes "the latest in-car technology available to occupants." We can expect, therefore, that desirable Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring will be standard, as seen on the majority of Kia's current line-up.
The same length as the car it replaces (a titchy 3595mm), the new Picanto was created by Kia's design centres in Korean and Germany, and is shown in the pictures in sports-inspired "GT-Line" specification.
Its design, we're told, when compared to the outgoing model "conveys a more assertive stance through bolder body lines and subtly sculpted surfaces." It also has a 15mm longer wheelbase than current, pushing the wheels further out into each corner.
Car makers have recognised that customisation options are of huge importance to many modern car buyers, especially younger buyers shopping for their first car. With the Picanto aimed squarely at such buyers the new car has an extended colour palette, with a choice of 11 bright paint colours to choose from. A range of colours for the trim and upholstery will also be on offer.
At this early stage there have been no revelations regarding the new Picantos specification or model line-up for Australia.
Its price too can only be guessed at, but we can expect the new Picanto to be not much more than the current $15,000 drive away price to remain competitive in the city car segment.
Keeping it priced this low is a recipe for success it seems. Recently released sales figures for 2016 showed the Picanto finished second in the Micro car class behind only the Mitsubishi Mirage, despite it only being on sale since April.
Trends show Australians are buying fewer micro cars each year, but with the value on offer from the likes of Kia's Picanto - especially when the new car arrives in a few months - make them enduring tempters as first cars or city runabouts.