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Last 7 Days

by Tim Beissmann

Following the release of two tantilising sketches late last year, Kia has revealed the first official images of the 2011 Kia Picanto ahead of its world premiere at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show in March.

Kia Australia maintains there are “no immediate plans” to introduce the all-new Picanto to its local showrooms, but it is far from closing the door on the idea.

With the new larger and better-equipped Kia Rio expected to arrive in the third quarter of this year, Kia Australia will be desperate to replace it with an entry-level vehicle to take on the likes of the Holden Barina Spark, Suzuki Alto and Nissan Micra in the rapidly expanding sub-light category.

The previous generation Picanto – known for its timid, self-conscious appearance – was never sold in Australia.

The images of the new vehicle reveal a much bolder and more self-assured small car.

Kia says it has been completely re-engineered and redesigned, and sports a longer wheelbase and overall length.

The new Picanto will be offered around the world as a five-door hatch (like the current model), and European markets will also receive a sportier three-door variant.

Kia is promising four all-new powertrains for the Picanto, including 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol engines with “class leading CO2 emission levels”. LPG bi-fuel and flex fuel variants will also be available depending on the market.

Kia will reveal more specifications of the all-new 2011 Kia Picanto at Geneva in around two month’s time.