Published on February 16th, 2017 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Kia’s new Picanto presented
Now in its third-generation, the new Kia Picanto brings a new, more youthful and energetic character to the A-segment. Boasting an assertive new design and a high-quality, high-tech new cabin, the latest model also offers buyers greater potential for customisation and promises to be the most versatile car in its class.
The new Picanto will be powered by one of three petrol engines, including Kia’s new 1.0-litre turbocharged gasoline direct injection (T-GDI) power unit. When the new 1.0-litre T-GDI engine goes on sale during Q4 2017, it will be the most powerful engine ever offered in the Picanto, and the first time this car has offered a turbocharged petrol engine.
Worldwide, more than 1.4 million of the current-generation Picanto have been sold since it was launched in 2011, with more than 300,000 of those sold in Europe. Despite the car approaching the end of its lifecycle in showrooms, Kia sold more than 55,000 Picanto models in Europe in 2016, representing year-on-year sales growth of three per cent.
The all-new Picanto has been created by Kia’s design centres in Namyang, Korea and Frankfurt, Germany, collaborating to design a youthful, energetic look.
Briefed to produce an innovative, bold and fun-looking urban city car, designers have followed up on the mandate to full effect, giving the new Picanto a more assertive stance with bolder body lines.
With the wheelbase extended to 2,400 mm (an increase of 15 mm), the wheels have been pushed further out to the corners of the car for a 25 mm shorter front overhang, making the car look more planted on the road. Strong, straight lines run horizontally across the front of the car, emphasising the ‘tiger-nose’ grille and angular new wrap-around headlights. Vertical lines that encompass the side intakes and lower grille enhance the Picanto’s more confident new ‘face’.
In profile, the new Picanto is characterised by distinctive lines running along the side skirts, shoulder and around the wheel arches, and subtly-sculpted body surfacing – again, each helping to create a more confident on-road design and visually ‘stretching’ the car for a greater sense of ride stability – although the Picanto is no longer than the outgoing model, at 3,595 mm in length.
The new model adopts Kia’s wide C-pillar as a design motif, which stands more upright than that of the previous model. Combined with a longer rear overhang – up 10 mm, to 520 mm – for a more assured posture.
The all-new Picanto will offers buyers greater potential for customisation than ever before, with a choice of 11 vibrant paint finishes designed to make the car stand out. Among the six new colours available to buyers is ‘Lime Light’, ‘Shiny Red’, ‘Aurora Black’ ‘Pop Orange’, ‘Sparkling Silver’ and ‘Celestial Blue’ pearlescent metallic paint finishes. The Picanto is fitted with 14-inch steel wheels in its most basic form, and customers can select one of four aluminium alloy wheel designs, ranging from 14-inch to 16-inch in diameter.
The exterior of the Picanto is also complemented by new projection headlights with LED indicators and LED daytime running lights and from Q3 2017, a subtle shark-fin antenna on the roof to replace the existing aerial.
For the first time, Kia will also offer the Picanto in a new ‘GT-Line’ specification, inspired by the sportier appearance of the company’s higher-performance ‘GT’ models, such as the Optima GT. In GT-Line specification, the exterior of the new Picanto is completed with red, silver and black highlights in the grille, side intakes, along the side skirts and in the rear valance, as well as chrome-tipped twin exhausts.
Inside the new Picanto, Kia designers have created a more modern, refined cabin than the second-generation model, with new materials and layout adding a greater sense of quality for occupants. The predominantly horizontal design adds greater visual width to the interior, highlighting the increased cabin dimensions.
The dashboard layout is now more centrally aligned, with a large 7.0-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen HMI (human-machine interface) sitting at the heart of the centre console and moving many of the car’s controls further up into the driver’s line of sight. A satin chrome-effect strip runs across the dashboard for a higher quality ambience, and large, vertical air vents at either end ‘bookend’ the front passenger compartment.
Customisation is key to the appeal of the new Picanto’s cabin. While black and grey cloth seats are available as standard, buyers can also personalise their new Picanto with one of five optional colour packs, featuring contrast artificial leather upholstery and stitching. Available at launch, these colour packs are:
High Gloss Black – a combination of black, grey and white upholstery with white stitching (and available with a black or grey base colour)
Brown – brown seats with light blue flashes down the side and light blue stitching
Blue – navy and true blue artificial leather and cloth upholstery with white and orange stitching
Red – black and grey seats with red flashes and red stitching
Lime – grey and light grey upholstery with lime green stitching
The contrast colours of the seats can be paired with optional new colour pads on the door armrests, echoing the contrast scheme selected for the seats. Finally, the Picanto’s new GT-Line derivative will be equipped with a D-cut steering wheel. The interior of the GT-Line model will be available with the full range of colour packs.
Practicality and packaging
Despite its on-road footprint remaining the same as that of the outgoing model, the all-new Picanto will offer buyers best-in-class packaging efficiency, with maximum versatility resulting from its larger cabin and class-leading boot capacity.
The Picanto meets the increasing trend towards five-door models in the A-segment, with Kia discontinuing the three-door model for the third generation car. Offering maximum practicality, the new model is no larger than the model it replaces, at 1,485 mm in height, 3,595 mm long and 1,595 mm wide. The new platform boasts a longer wheelbase and longer rear overhang, however, freeing up more space in the cabin and boot (the front overhang is reduced by 25 mm, to 675 mm).
Inside, the new Picanto provides occupants with more leg- and head-room than best-selling rivals in the A-segment, while a lower step height makes for easier ingress and egress. The base of the dashboard has been moved upwards by 15 mm for greater knee and leg space for front passengers. The new Picanto is available with either four or five seats, with the rear bench split into either two or three seats depending on buyer preference (1.2-litre models are five-seat only).
The new central armrest for front passengers can slide back and forth up to 55 mm – a first in the class – and covers a small storage compartment designed to accommodate a one-litre water bottle or a sunglasses case. At the base of the centre console is an open double-shelf tray to store mobile devices and other small items, with retractable twin cupholders which can fold away to yield more storage space.
Beneath the sun visors in the front of the cabin, the vanity mirror also features bright new LED lights and a strip of mood lighting. By providing the surrounding glow of a make-up room mirror, the Picanto’s new vanity mirror makes it easier for occupants to apply make-up, check their hair-style, or adjust their hat, scarf or tie.
The boot grows from 200 litres (VDA) to a maximum 255 litres – the most of any car in the class – and also features a two-step boot floor, which can be raised or lowered by 145 mm to create additional space as required, as well as create an under-floor storage area. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats can be folded down completely flat with a one-touch lever, for maximum ease of use. This also boosts cargo capacity to 1,010 litres.
Comfort levels are also improved. Where the seats in many A-segment rivals provide one-piece back rests with integrated headrests, the new Picanto gives buyers fully-adjustable headrests, which move up and down and tilt forwards and backwards. The Picanto’s new seats are also more comfortable for longer journeys, featuring the same seat-base materials and construction found in larger Kia models (such as the new Optima). In the rear, the angle of the back rest is more reclined – from 25 to 27 degrees – for a more relaxed posture, and slightly more prominent side bolsters on the rear bench further improve comfort and support during faster cornering.
Ride and handling
The outgoing Kia Picanto won plaudits for its combination of immediate handling responses and a comfortable ride. Engineers have emulated these characteristics in the new model, while making a series of modifications to the suspension – independent by MacPherson strut at the front; torsion beam at the rear – to realise greater ride stability and quicker, more enjoyable handling responses.
Designed to reduce the body roll angle under cornering by up to 1° and enable more immediate reactions to steering inputs, the Picanto’s anti-roll bars are two per cent stiffer and mounted slightly lower at the front, and five per cent stiffer and slightly higher at the rear. The Picanto’s revised dimensions – with a longer wheelbase and slightly shorter front overhang – also enable the pitch centre of the car to be placed further towards the rear of the car, helping to naturally reduce ‘nose dive’ under braking without firming up the suspension and potentially compromising ride comfort.
In addition, the longer wheelbase contributes to a natural improvement in ride quality and stability on all roads. The torsion beam rear axle has been reshaped and features newly-designed trailing arms, helping to reduce weight by 1.8 kg over the rear axle with no loss in component rigidity.
A new steering rack means the steering ratio has been quickened by 13 per cent over the outgoing Picanto, from 16.5:1 to 14.3:1. Not only does this enable more immediate responses to driver inputs, but reducing the turns of the wheel lock-to-lock (from 3.4 to 2.8 turns) makes the Picanto even easier to drive at low speeds and in the city. With the front wheel pushed closer to the front of the vehicle, resulting in a shorter overhang, the reduced weight ahead of the front axle reduces inertia for more agile handling.
The new Picanto is the first car in its class to offer buyers torque vectoring by braking – an additional function of the Electronic Stability Control system (ESC; see ‘Safety’). The adoption of this new technology for an A-segment car means the Picanto retains a higher degree of handling stability and security under cornering, while helping to reduce understeer during harder cornering.
Engines and transmissions
Underpinning the all-new Picanto’s quicker, more responsive steering is a range of highly efficient small-capacity petrol engines. Serving to minimise the weight over the front axle, the downsized engine line-up also delivers the sprightly acceleration and immediate powertrain responses that customers expect of an urban car.
Three petrol engines will be available to buyers. The 1.0-litre and 1.25-litre naturally-aspirated multi-point injection (MPI) engines have been carried over from the outgoing Picanto, with a range of enhancements to improve efficiency and driveability. From Q4 2017, Kia’s new 1.0-litre T-GDI (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) power unit will also be available, offering turbocharged petrol performance in the Picanto for the first time ever. All engines are paired with a five-speed manual transmission, delivering power to the front wheels. Idle Stop & Go is available on certain manual models, while the 1.25-litre MPI engine is also available with a four-speed automatic transmission.
The 1.0-litre MPI engine provides the entry point into the Picanto range, producing 67 ps at 5,500 rpm and 96 Nm torque. The most fuel efficient engine available to Picanto buyers, the 1.0-litre unit is capable of producing just 89 g/km of carbon dioxide (four-seat model; New European Drive Cycle, combined), down from 95 g/km on the outgoing model (a 6.3 per cent reduction). Upgrades to the engine include a new exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head, and a new cooling system with shut-off valve, reducing the time it takes the engine to warm-up from a cold start. A new two-stage oil pump also reduces mechanical friction.
The mid-range 1.25-litre MPI produces peak power of 84 ps, and 122 Nm of torque. Picanto models with this engine will emit 104 g/km of CO2on the combined cycle, compared with 106 g/km for the existing Picanto. For its application in the new Picanto, Kia engineers have optimized the valve timing of the engine’s dual CVVT (continuously-variable valve timing) system, and have also adopted a similar new cooling system and shut-off valve to the 1.0-litre MPI engine. New low-friction coated piston rings also help to reduce cylinder friction for greater efficiency.
The 1.0-litre T-GDI engine, available in the Picanto for the first time, produces 100 ps and 172 Nm torque, the highest power and torque outputs ever offered in Kia’s A-segment model. The engine features a single-scroll turbocharger for instant acceleration, as well as an integrated exhaust manifold and a high-pressure (200 bar) fuel supply. Laser-drilled injectors deliver precise quantities of fuel into the cylinders to accurately control combustion, delivering instantaneous accelerative responses and contributing to the engine’s high efficiency and low fuel consumption.
Refinement has been dramatically improved in the new Picanto, with a range of modifications designed to further isolate the cabin from vibrations and noise from the road, wind and the engine. The result is a car that offers the quietest cabin of any A-segment model, both at idle and at a steady cruise.
New refinement measures adopted for the latest Picanto include a new soundproofing panel beneath the dashboard and in the floor of the cabin, while expandable sound-absorbent foam has been applied to lower sections of the A- and B-pillars. Beneath the bonnet, a new sound-absorbent engine cover and reshaped air intake help to isolate engine noise from the cabin. The structure of the engine mounts has also been revised to counteract engine vibrations. Furthermore, the windscreen wipers have been lowered by 6 mm to reduce the level of wind ‘roar’ generated at the base of the windscreen
As a result of these upgrades, the new Picanto produces a quietest-in-class 39 dB of noise at idle – 3 dB less than the current A-segment leader – and 68 dB at a steady cruise.
Buyers of the new Kia Picanto will have access to some of the most advanced infotainment and convenience technologies available in the A-segment, while still enjoying the same high value for money expected of a Kia vehicle.
The large, ‘floating’ 7.0-inch HMI touchscreen at the centre of the dashboard houses a navigation system with 3D map, and is available with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ for full smartphone integration. A rear-view parking camera with dynamic guidelines is also on offer to buyers who want an additional level of assurance when completing parking manoeuvres. An optional wireless smartphone charger and USB port, located at the base of the centre console, ensure drivers can keep mobile devices charged on the move.
Safety and body
The new Picanto is the safest A-segment car Kia has ever made, featuring double the proportion of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) compared to the outgoing model and a selection of active safety technologies.
With a stronger body than ever before, 44 per cent of the new Picanto’s bodyshell is cast in AHSS (up from 22 per cent), reducing body-in-white weight by 23 kg while improving tensile strength by 12 per cent. The new, stronger steel has been used to reinforce the floor pan, roof rails and engine bay, as well as the A- and B-pillars, strengthening the core structure of the car. The new bodyshell also uses more than eight times the quantity of structural adhesive found in the outgoing model (67 metres of joins throughout the structure are now reinforced with the adhesive). Overall, static torsional stiffness has been improved by 32 per cent.
The stronger, lighter body is supported by six standard airbags (front, front side and curtain airbags), and an optional knee airbag, as well as a range of active safety features. These include standard Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) to ensure stability under braking and cornering, detecting a loss in traction and using ESC to help the driver keep the car on course.
In addition, the new Picanto will be available with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)* – a key technology adopted to enhance safety in the predominantly city and urban environments in which the majority of customers drive their Picanto. An indirect Tyre Pressure Monitoring System is also available.