New Kia Picanto arrives in UK from £8,395 | Ken Brown KIA

New Kia Picanto arrives in UK from £8,395

The new Kia Picanto, revealed at the Geneva Motor Show at the beginning of March, is now on sale in the UK priced from £8,345 for the three-door version and £8,545 for the entry-level five-door.

The upgraded version of the compact, fun-to-drive Picanto features a comprehensive package of styling, re-engineering and specification revisions and a new trim grade, SR7, which replaces the former VR7 model and adds significantly more equipment.

All versions - three- and five-door - have a revised front end, featuring new head lights, a new bumper design with vertical foglamp housing and a restyled rear bumper. From Autumn production the 1.0-litre and 1.25-litre Kappa engines will meet EU6 emissions regulations and develop more torque at lower rpm.

There are new, eight-spoke, petal-shaped 14-inch alloy wheels exclusive to the five-door grade 2 model, which also benefits from the option of striking Atlantic Blue metallic paint. This is also offered on the five-door grade 3. SR7 versions in both body styles are exclusively offered with Honey Bee Yellow metallic paint.

The interior of every model now has chrome rings on the three-cylinder instrument cluster and chrome accents on the air vent knobs, plus a high-gloss black finish to the gear selector, adding to the already high-quality look and feel of the car. Compared with the previous VR7, SR7 models now benefit from privacy glass and automatic lights, while the five-door grade 4 version which sits at the top of the Picanto range gains cruise control with a speed limiter. Every model has an upgraded audio system with fewer buttons and faster responses.

Further versions featuring an audio-visual navigation system linked to a seven-inch screen will be added later in the year.

An 11-model range to suit every need

The Picanto is Kia's smallest car in the UK, and is unusual in its segment in offering both three- and five-door versions. A total of 11 models are available based on three-door 1 and SR7 grades and five-door 1, 1 Air, SR7, 2, 3 and 4 grades.

Each body style has its own distinctive character, but the two are united in delivering space, versatility and a high level of quality and specification in a compact, city-friendly package. The two petrol engines are ideally suited to the age of downsizing, fuel-saving and emissions-cutting. The larger of the two is available with the convenience of automatic transmission, reducing the stresses of city driving.

The subtle styling upgrades further enhance the pert, fun-to-drive character of the Picanto, while the interior enhancements emphasise that it is a car of substance, despite its low price. More than ever, the Picanto feels like a big car in all but the amount of road space it occupies. It provides the luxury, refinement, safety and comfort of a larger model without the size and cost, and strong performance with low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The Picanto occupies slightly less than 3.6 metres of road, but a long wheelbase allied to clever packaging has resulted in exceptional cabin space and a luggage capacity of 200 litres, or 870 litres with the rear seats folded.

More stylish than ever

The restyled front and rear bumpers add extra strength to the Picanto's expressive front end, which blends into strongly sculpted and dynamic sides that emphasise the car's strength and maturity and give it a premium presence. Attention to detail is everywhere, and has resulted in a drag co-efficient of Cd 0.31 - far better than the majority of A-segment cars and a useful contributor to the car's high fuel economy and low emissions. The 1, 1 Air and SR7 models have a black grille with a silver surround, while on grades 2, 3 and 4 the surround is in chrome.

If the five-door Picanto is the small car grown up, then the three-door is the same but with a twinkle in its eye. It has a unique, sporty character while managing to deliver similar practicality and safety to the five-door model. In profile, the doors, rear panels and glass of the A-pillar give the three-door Picanto an even more dynamic appearance, accentuated by the rising belt line that slices through the door handle on each side.

And while its primary role might not be as a family runabout, Kia has done everything to make access to the back easy for those occasions when owners want to give a lift to friends or relatives. Sliding and tilting front seats provide a wide ‘walk-in' to the split rear bench.

Globally, the market for Picanto-sized cars in 2015 will grow to around 3.3 million units. Around a million of these will be three-door cars, which is why Kia offers both body styles. In the UK, the importance of the three-door car is particularly pronounced: the sales split is only 55:45 in favour of five-door models, in the A-segment market.

Plush or plusher - the model range

The Picanto 1 - and the five-door Picanto 1 Air, which adds air conditioning to the standard specification - is the entry-level model in the range, but there has been no skimping on equipment. Factory-fitted features include a height-adjustable seat, a tilt-adjustable steering column and Motor-Driven Power Steering. In-car entertainment is provided by a standard RDS radio and CD player with MP3 compatibility and four speakers.

Grades 1 and 1 Air also have body-coloured exterior door handles and mirrors, front electric windows, remote central locking with a fold-away key, all-round height-adjustable head restraints, tinted glass, headlight levelling and 60:40 split folding rear seats, and there is a comprehensive safety specification which offers buyers of every version the same protection.

The SR7 versions offer an exceptional level of equipment with the frugality of the 1.0-litre engine. The comprehensive list of standard equipment adds, over and above 1 and 1 Air, 14-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior door handles, locking wheel nuts and electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors. There is also privacy glass on the rear side windows and tailgate, ‘welcome' and ‘follow-me-home' lights and automatic headlight control.

Inside, the SR7 features air conditioning, steering wheel-mounted controls, electric front windows with an automatic up/down function on the driver's side, and two front seat-back pockets, Bluetooth with music streaming, USB and Aux ports, reversing sensors and speed-sensing automatic door locking.

Picanto 2 contains a host of additional equipment typically seen on cars from the B-segment and above - unique 14-inch alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning (manual models only), front foglights (manuals only), Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition and USB & AUX ports, all-round electric windows and heated electrically operated folding door mirrors with integrated LED side repeaters.

Key additions to Picanto 3 are 15-inch alloy wheels, projection headlamps, LED daytime running lights and rear combination lamps, a premium supervision cluster, heated front seats, a driver's-side vanity mirror with Hollywood-style LED illumination, a six-speaker audio system and remote audio controls on the steering wheel. The luxurious Picanto 4 tops this with an electric tilting and sliding sunroof, a smart key with engine start/stop button, a heated steering wheel, UV solar windscreen glass and cruise control with a speed limiter.

With both body styles the upholstery of grade 1 models is black cloth (also with the five-door 1 Air). Premium black cloth is fitted to all other versions. There is leather trim on the steering wheel and gearshifter from grades SR7 upwards. Silver paint adorns the centre fascia, steering wheel bezel and gearshifter top on grades 1 and 1 Air, with metallic paint on the same elements in all other versions. From SR7 upwards there is a silver finish on the interior door handles and handbrake button.

Two ultra-efficient powertrains

The Picanto will be available with two ultra-efficient engines from the Kappa family which perfectly suit the trend for smaller-capacity power units with outstanding performance. Both conform to EU6 emissions regulations and will be fitted to vehicles built from June 2015, available for UK customers in the autumn.

The three-cylinder 1.0-litre unit delivers 68bhp and 95Nm of torque through a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 1.25-litre four-cylinder version develops 84bhp and 121Nm of torque, and is available with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, depending on model.

The 1.0-litre engine has combined fuel economy of 67.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km in standard form, but this is improved to 68.9mpg and 95g/km of CO2 when allied to Kia's ISG engine stop/start system. In both cases it gives the Picanto lively performance, particularly at the urban speeds for which it is ideally suited. The 0-60mph acceleration time is 13.9 seconds, while the top speed is 95mph.

The 1.25-litre four-cylinder version with the five-speed manual gearbox and standard ISG has fuel economy and emissions of 65.7mpg (2 grade) or 62.8mph (grades 3 and 4) with respective CO2 emissions of 100 and 106g/km, while with the four-speed automatic gearbox the figures are 53.3mpg and 125g/km (Picanto 2) or 50.4mpg and 130g/km (Picanto 3). The 0-60mph times are 11.0 seconds for manual versions and 12.9 seconds for automatics, while the respective top speeds are 106 and 101mph.

The suspension features MacPherson struts at the front and a coupled torsion beam axle at the rear, a layout which gives the best combination of ride and handling while minimising intrusions into passenger and luggage space. No changes were necessary as it already endowed the Picanto with excellent straight-line stability and a supple ride over typical British bumps. A stiff rear axle aids agility while also contributing to the car's impressive stability and comfort.

The steering system is Kia's acclaimed Motor-Driven Power Steering (MDPS). This delivers the twin benefits of reduced fuel consumption, by drawing on engine power only when needed, while reducing the driver effort needed for parking and manoeuvring.

Safety across the board

Kia's democratic approach to occupant safety - the belief that all customers deserve equal protection - includes a full range of standard electronic features that make many potential accidents preventable. A stiff body structure­ - with optimum crumple zones to absorb crash impacts while preventing intrusion into the passenger cell - is the first line of defence and there is a complete set of passive safety equipment. Pedestrians are not forgotten, either, with measures to help protect them in an accident.

Kia's approach is that the most survivable accident is the one that never happens, so the three-door Picanto's electronic safety equipment includes the potentially life-saving features of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) to keep the car on course in slippery conditions or when cornering in an over-exuberant manner. All versions have anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) to apportion stopping effort to the wheels with most traction, and Emergency Brake Assist (BAS), ensuring maximum stopping power in an emergency, regardless of the pressure applied to the pedal by the driver.

Should the worst happen, every Picanto has front, side and curtain airbags to cushion heads and torsos against impacts from any angle. Front seat-belt pre-tensioners and load limiters brace occupants against a crash impact while reducing the risk of chest injury.

The best warranty in the business

In line with every Kia, the Picanto comes with the best warranty in the business - seven years or 100,000 miles, including labour, subject to terms and conditions. The warranty is fully transferable to the next owner if the car is sold before the time or mileage limit expires. The Picanto requires servicing every 10,000 miles or 12 months, and retail customers are able to benefit from low-cost Care-3 and Care-3 Plus servicing packages. These are also transferable.

- Posted on: Wednesday 21st October 2015