Euro-market hatch to get three-pot turbo, AEB, torque vectoring
The all-new 2017 Kia Picanto has been detailed for the European market ahead of its public debut at the Geneva motor show next month.
Arriving in showrooms around Europe from the second quarter this year, the new Picanto is a huge step forward for the Korean brand's teeniest family member, with a focus on quality, technology and versatility.
Key highlights include the availability of Kia's 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine (also used in the larger Rio hatch), autonomous emergency braking (AEB), a new infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a segment-first torque vectoring system.
Three engines will be offered - in Europe at least - including the carryover 49kW/96Nm 1.0-litre and 62kW/122Nm 1.25-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines, along with the aforementioned 1.0-litre turbo triple, which develops 74kW of power and 172Nm of torque.
All three units are paired with a five-speed manual transmission as standard, while the 1.25-litre engine is also available with an optional four-speed automatic shifter.
Kia says it has gone to great lengths to significantly improve the Picanto's refinement levels, claiming class-leading NVH (noise vibration harshness) thanks to new sound-proofing methods and revisions to the structure of the engine mounts.
Inside, a new 7.0-inch infotainment screen offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, along with acting as a display for the rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines.
Also available on certain models is satellite navigation with three-dimensional mapping, and the option of a wireless smartphone charger.
Buyers will get a choice of five optional colour packs for the interior, which add contrasting artificial leather trim and stitching - including black, brown, blue, red and lime schemes.
These contrastic seat trims can also be specified in conjunction with coloured door armrest pads.
Meanwhile, the turbocharged GT-Line variant will be equipped with a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The new Picanto also offers new technology like autonomous emergency braking (AEB) for city speeds along with an 'indirect' tyre pressure monitoring system.
Helping the micro hatch to be as dynamic as it looks is a first-in-class torque vectoring system by braking, which is a feature of the new electronic stability control program.
The system helps to reduce understeer during harder cornering by braking the inside wheels, while a quicker steering ratio makes the Picanto even easier to maneuver at lower speeds.
European buyers will have a choice of 11 vibrant exterior paint finishes, including the new Lime Light, Shiny Red, Aurora Black, Pop Orange, Sparkling Silver and Celestial Blue hues.
Filling the arches in entry-level models will be 14-inch steel wheels, while four alloy wheel designs ranging from 14- to 16-inches are available across the range.
When the new Picanto was first revealed earlier this year, Kia's local arm confirmed it would arrive in Australian showrooms before the end of the second quarter.
However, Kia Australia is still unable to confirm local details regarding engine options and model range - meaning it's unclear whether the turbo triple-powered GT-Line will make it Down Under.
It's likely locally-bound Picantos will initially be available with the 1.25-litre naturally-aspirated petrol - which offers both manual and automatic transmissions - and, if the larger Rio is any indication, the turbocharged GT-Line could arrive somewhere down the track.
Should the sporty flagship make its way to Australia, it would be the first time the Picanto has been offered locally with a manual transmission, as the current model is only available with the four-speed automatic.
Also like the larger Rio, lower-spec versions of the Picanto are unlikely to be fitted with AEB, meaning the only chance of the safety equipment making it here is if Kia Australia decides to import the top-spec GT-Line.