The pint-sized Picanto is a rival for the Holden Spark and top-selling Mitsubishi Mirage at the smallest end of the market. This model has been around overseas for almost five years, so it’s no spring chicken, but an extensive styling and spec update last year has kept it up to speed.
Kia admits the Picanto launch is partially a toe-in-the-water exercise to establish the nameplate here in preparation for the all-new model due in a few years. But the package on offer from this week shapes up as an attractive one.
The Picanto also gives Kia a contender in the ultra-cheap part of the market with five doors, to fight alongside the similarly priced coupe-like three-door Rio, and beneath the larger five-door Rio. Kia boldy expects the Picanto will outsell all rivals and top the Micro Car segment, as you can read here.
Only one Kia Picanto specification will be offered, standard with an automatic transmission — manual sales in Australia are proportionally tiny, at least in this market segment. It will cost $14,990 drive-away, meaning Kia has taken the unusual step of offering a car without a RRP.
This pricing makes it the same as the $14,990 drive-away Spark, but Holden’s campaign price is for a car with a manual gearbox, meaning the Kia is actually relatively cheaper (the auto Spark costs $16,690 d/a). The Suzuki Celerio auto with five doors can usually be had for $12,990 drive-away.
Standard equipment on the Picanto includes 14-inch steel wheels, rear parking sensors, power windows, steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth connectivity for phone and audio streaming, manual air-conditioning and a trip computer. There’s no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as found on the Holden Spark.
The Picanto also gets six airbags and a five-star ANCAP crash rating (2013 testing year).
Under the snub bonnet is a 1.25-litre engine producing 63kW of power at 6000rpm and 120Nm of torque at 4000rpm. Claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption is 5.6 litres per 100km. Standard is an automatic gearbox with only four forward speeds.
Engineering traits include independent front/torsion beam rear suspension, electric-assisted power steering, and a claimed super-stiff body structure for the class with extra sound-deadening materials. Because the car is arriving late in its life-cycle, it's the only Kia Australia product without Australian-specific suspension tuning.
The Picanto is less than 3.6 metres long, so it’s tiny, but a comparatively long wheelbase means a decent-for-the-class 200 litres of cargo space with all seats in place, or 605 litres with the 60:40 rear seats lowered.
The Picanto is built under a joint-venture arrangement with Donghee Auto Company in Korea, for the globe.
Kia Australia COO Damien Meredith was frank and realistic about expectations for the Picanto, which has been an on-again/off-again project for years. Micro car sales have been falling double digits for a few years now.
“The decision to bring Picanto to Australia was not one taken quickly, or lightly,” he said. “We don’t live under a rock and it is apparent to anyone who wants to look that the micro car segment is, to put it plainly, very small.
“With some 700 sales last month the segment represents less than 1.0 per cent of the Australian new car market — a number that probably doesn’t look that attractive. However, it is a well-known and proven mantra that to be a success you need to do the one-percenters well.
“We believe that everything about the Picanto ticks a box that needs ticking.
“When it comes to the crunch, you can’t guarantee to protect your kids from everything, but when it comes to them getting to and from their education facilities, or work and play, you can certainly provide some sensible and practical options. With the maximum ANCAP 5-star safety rating, Picanto is one such opportunity.”
As with all Kia models, the Picanto gets a fully transferable impressive seven-year warranty, capped price servicing and road-side assist. The is industry-leading and sure to be a lure.
2016 Kia Picanto drive-away price - $14,990
- Six airbags
- 14-inch steel wheels
- Seven-year warranty/roadside assist
- Capped-price servicing
- Five doors
- Four-speed automatic transmission
- Rear parking sensors
- Power windows
- Steering wheel-mounted controls
- Bluetooth connectivity for phone and audio
- Manual air-conditioning
- Trip computer