New Kia Picanto v3.0: meet Korea's slickest city car yet

Published: 15 February 2017

► It’s the new 2017 Kia Picanto 
► Official debut in Geneva
► Due on sale in spring 2017

Ahead of its official unveil at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Kia has given us a sneak preview of its all-new Kia Picanto city car. Headlining the changes over the old model are the introduction of Kia’s 99bhp three-cylinder GDI petrol engine, a stiffer reworked chassis plus quicker steering, and a wider customisation element for trend-conscious customers.

The latter means the Picanto’s more aggressively styled exterior is available in 11 different colour options, while the inside is subject to a choice of five optional colour packs – including a rather fetching ‘navy and true blue artificial leather and cloth upholstery with white and orange stitching’. Brave.

Kia’s mildly sporty GT-Line trim makes its debut on the Picanto, too.

That aside, there are a few notable absences in the new range – such as the lack of any diesel option or three-door variant.

Our full A-Z preview guide to the Geneva motor show

2017 Kia Picanto

It looks kinda similar to the old car, what’s new on the styling front?

The devil is in the detail here. Everyday features such as the headlights are a real work of art up close, with sculpted lines and intricate detailing combining to make an eye-catching design.

There are further nice touches on the foglights of GT-Line models, too. Their chrome surround is delicately scored, and shaped to allow them to sit neatly within the lower radiator grille. Even the wheelarches haven’t escaped the designer’s attention with a gently contoured profile emphasising the GT-Line versions’ sportier look.

How zippy will that new three-cylinder T-GDI engine be?

Well the bad news is that it’s not the full-fat 118bhp version out of the larger Kia Rio, rather a detuned 99bhp motor. That said, the Picanto’s sub one-tonne kerb weight should ensure that even this pared-down 1.0-litre engine should provide plenty of inner-city poke, with 0-62mph dealt with in 10.1 seconds.

It’s not, however, expected to be the biggest-selling engine on this latest Picanto – that honour going to the 83bhp 1.25-litre four-cylinder, also nicked from the Rio. It won’t be as quick as the 1.0-litre model, but should be more responsive thanks to its extra cylinder. Fuel economy and emissions are also expected to be gentler on the wallet.

Rounding off the range is, confusingly, another 1.0-litre engine – this time in 66bhp MPI guise and sans turbo power. All cars come standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, while 1.25-litre models get the option of a worryingly archaic-sounding four-speed automatic.

2017 Kia Picanto

What’s new with the Picanto’s chassis?

Despite this latest model measuring up at exactly the same length as the car it’s replacing, Kia has extended the wheelbase by 15mm and pushed the wheels further towards each corner. The aim is greater stability and ride comfort, while also upping the Picanto’s practicality.

The front overhang in particular is noticeably shorter, and, along with a quicker steering rack and stiffened anti-roll bars, should address the previous Picanto’s dull front end responses.

Click here for CAR’s review of the old Kia Picanto

There’s also a new torque vectoring system – claimed to be a world-first on A-segment cars – which works alongside the ESP to brake the inside wheel during hard cornering. This, in theory, should make the car more stable and agile, while also reducing any unwanted understeer.

How much equipment will be on offer?

Exact UK specifications are yet to be confirmed, although expect the usual 1, 2 and 3 trim levels followed by the body-kitted GT-Line and perhaps a bells-and-whistles First Edition at launch.

What we do know for sure is that higher spec Picantos will benefit from a 7in floating touchscreen, sat-nav, wireless smartphone charging and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone functionality.

There’ll also be a reversing camera for those nervous about bumping the Picanto’s pert tailgate, with autonomous emergency braking to help avoid forward collisions.

When can I buy one?

The new Picanto is set to go on sale during the second quarter of 2017, although customers hoping to spec the new 99bhp 1.0-litre T-GDI engine will have to wait until the end of the year before it becomes available.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but expect a slight premium over the old model throughout all trim levels. GT-Line models are expected to make up around 20% of overall sales.

CAR will be one of the first to drive the new Kia Picanto, so be sure to keep an eye out for our first review later in 2017. 

Kia Picanto 2017 rear

By James Dennison

Head of automotive video for CAR magazine and our sister website