OUR favourite city car has just got more refined, stylish and tech-laden, while remaining one of the cheapest ways into a new set of wheels in Australia.
Kia's micro-sized Picanto has landed in third generation guise (although we Aussies skipped the first effort), and is available with a manual gearbox for $14,190 plus on roads or $15,690 drive away with a four-speed auto gearbox.
With that appealing drive away price for the auto version, there's little doubt you could be on the road in the manual Picanto for around $14k with a bit of haggling at the Kia dealership.
So what do you get with the new Picanto, the city car we bought more of than any other in 2016 and 2017 so far?
Key selling point is Kia's industry-leading seven year unlimited kilometre warranty, sweetened further with seven years capped price servicing and seven years roadside assist. Peace of mind personified you'd say.
Specification is the same for both manual and auto cars, meaning a 1.25-litre four-cylinder petrol engine good for 62kW and 122Nm, and toys including a 7-inch infotainment screen, rear view camera, rear parking sensors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, bluetooth, cruise control and daytime running lights.
You only get 14-inch steel wheels, but the Picanto's style has been enhanced with a bigger front grille, wrap-around headlights and a shorter front overhang for a more masculine look.
Exterior dimensions are practically unchanged (it's still a very small car), but inside improvements include slightly increased passenger space, a classier and wider-looking dashboard and a decent jump in cargo space, albeit it's still not able to carry much with rear seats in place.
Kia's given the new Picanto a local suspension and steering tune relevant to Australian conditions, lessened cabin noise with improved insulation and added a couple of smart systems to enable the little city car to hold the road a bit better.
Still no Autonomous Emergency Braking for the new Picanto (although Kia Motors Australia is lobbying its overseas R&D colleagues to hurry it into right-hand drive production cars for our market), and customisation options seem limited to 14-inch or 16-inch alloy wheels and some jazzy body colours such as a new Lime Green.
There's sadly no funky GT Line sporty model with three-cylinder turbo petrol engine destined for Australia just yet.
The new Picanto is typically the reserve of first car buyers and the more mature buyer making town and city journeys, and this new model with its key improvements and still-appealing price should no doubt consolidate Kia's city car as the most popular in its class.
Look out for our full road test review this weekend.
AT A GLANCE
PRICE $14,190 plus on-roads (manual); $15,690 drive away (auto)
WARRANTY 7 years/unlimited km
CAPPED SERVICING $1733 over 5 years (average of $347 annually)
SERVICE INTERVAL 12 months/15,000km
SAFETY untested, 6 airbags
ENGINE 1.25-litre 4-cyl petrol, 62kW/122Nm
TRANSMISSION 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto, FWD
THIRST 5.0l/100km - 5.8l/100km.
DIMENSIONS 3595mm(L), 1595mm(W), 1485mm(H), 2400mm(WB)
WEIGHT 976kg - 995kg
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