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by Tim Beissmann

Images of the 2015 Kia Picanto have appeared online, revealing the updated styling of the micro car that appears on track to finally launch in Australia towards the end of this year.

The facelifted Picanto – badged the Kia Morning in South Korea – gets a slimmer ‘tiger nose’ grille and a redesigned front bumper with a larger lower air intake and new foglights and housings – changes that make it more closely resemble the larger Rio city car. New alloy wheels round out the exterior changes.

The 2015 Picanto’s cabin also appears largely unchanged from the current car’s, distinguished only by upgraded materials.

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The big news is the anticipated addition of a turbocharged engine beneath the bonnet. The updated Picanto is set to gain a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine producing approximately 78kW of power.

The turbo engine will be offered alongside the existing naturally aspirated 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol engines, while four-speed automatic, five-speed manual and continuously variable transmissions will also carry over into the upgraded range.

After confirming the Picanto was “seriously back on the agenda for Australia” in October, Kia Australia media and corporate communications general manager Kevin Hepworth told CarAdvice today the model was “still definitely on the cards” and said the conversations about the car with head office in South Korea had been “very positive”.

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Hepworth said though the business case was still being finalised, the local division was hopeful of launching the facelifted Picanto around September or October.

He said the 1.0-litre turbo engine was “certainly a possibility” for our market, but admitted specification details had not been discussed at length at this stage.

If given the green light for our market, the Picanto will slot beneath the Rio, likely starting from around $13,000 before on-road costs to compete with the likes of the Mitsubishi Mirage and soon-to-launch Suzuki Celerio.




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