MY17 Kia Picanto Launch & First Impressions

The 3rd Generation facelifted Kia Picanto has a feisty smirk, with a sporty feel.

The entry level car segment today has a lot of variety, but not many have the quality and the full package included.

The feeling you get from the Picanto at a first drive, is that of a well built car. It drives well, sits firmly on the tar, feels good and responsive and is generally a fun and stylish car to drive, especially in the different colour palette to choose from. Celestial blue, Shiny red, Alice blue, Pop orange, Honey Bee yellow and Lime Light green to name a few.

First Impressions 

When you first get into the Picanto with the marketing hashtag #GetIn you immediately feel like they’ve increased the cabin space and it feels a bit more spacious. That’s thanks to a slightly wider, longer and more refined wheelbase design, which offers a bit more room inside, whilst keeping the overall dimensions the same as the previous model. This also helps with the cars handling and road holding, as Kia have pushed their contact surface of the tyres to the furthest most corners of the car, making it handle a bit like the Mini Cooper.

The interior is modern and fresh and feels up to date, with a very easy to use 7inch touch colour LCD infotainment display (available in SMART model) located in the centre of the dash. You’ll also find USB charging ports with Apple Car Play and Android Auto apps directly from your smart phone. Sliding arm rest. Rear view park assist camera. Bluetooth as standard as well as a list of features for creature comforts such as aircon, power steering and electric windows, mirrors and heated mirrors. Rather spoilt for options I might add, as the entry level cars of the past with the likes of the Citi Golf, Mazda 323, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Tazz having no fancy features as standard, which I think we take for granted in today’s world. The boot also boasts a class leading 255L capacity with just over 1000L capacity with the rear seats folded.

Having a look at the exterior, you’ll see the car stands quite bold, yet cheeky with its sporty Tiger-nose grill and wrap around LED head lights with Daytime Running Lights. The rear also features new LED lights and the car sits on 15inch alloy rims in the SMART model, which look great. The array of colours also stand out and are rather fun.

Kia have stuck with the reliable Kappa (Multi Point Injection) MPI in-line 3 cylinder, 12 valve (Double Over Head Cam) DOHC engine in the 1.0L and the MPI in-line 4 cylinder, 16 valve DOHC 1.2L variant which offer 49kW/95Nm and 61kW/122Nm respectively. This will give you a lively 0-100km/h jump in 14.3 sec in the 1.0L and 12 sec in the 1.2L. You’ll also find great fuel economy figures below 6L per 100km. There is a 4 Speed Auto gearbox or a 5 Speed manual gearbox to choose from and 11 different models in total.

The models available are the Start, Street, Style and Smart. The Start coming with 13 inch steel rims, the Style comimg with 14 inch steel rims with covers and the Smart standard with the 15 inch 4 spoke alloy rims. The chassis has been hardened with Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) and hot stamping of components, which offer a 12% increase in stiffnesss, whilst shedding 7kg in weight. This helps with the cars safety and performance. All cars are fitted with McPherson strut suspension infront with the rear suspension having the (Coupled Torsion Beam Axle) CTBA U-shaped torsion beam. You also get a driver airbag on the entry level Start model as standard, but unfortunately no (Anti-lock Braking System) ABS or (Electronic Stability Control) ESC. The other models (Street, Style and Smart) feature driver and passenger airbags with ABS, but still no ESC.

Pricing is quite competitive in the market with the 1.0L Start model starting at R134 995 to the 1.0L Smart model at R179 995 then moving into the 1.2L range starting at R150 995 in the Start model and making its way up to R195 995 in the range topping Smart model. A total of 11 different models available. All models came standard with a 5 year unlimited km warranty with an optional 2 year / 45000km service plan roughly at R3800.

Kia were also ranked No.1 in quality worldwide in 2017 by the US J.D Power initial quality study. The Picanto is focused on safety as well as practicality. Kia are marketing the Picanto to the young and the young at heart, with the hopes to increase their previous years sales by 100% and take over from the Chevrolet Spark, Hyundai i10 and win back from the new Renault Kwid. They are hoping to sell 650 units a month, a figure I think will be easy to achieve given the great overall quality and feel of the refreshed car.
Overall I feel that the drive is very confident and enjoyable, with a light spring in its step. The steering is light, yet responsive, offering good driver feedback from the road. The road handling is great and feels sturdy and holds its own even at highway speeds. A sense of safety is offered from the body work, despite being so compact. The build quality and finishes are excellent and the overall feel to the touch are materials of high grade. The features are great and up to date. I really enjoyed the new car and look forward to seeing many on our roads going forward.