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KIA has spiced up their A-Segment Picanto hatchback, giving the big-hearted little car more visual appeal and functionality to go with its proven economy and street-cred.

The Picanto has been one of KIA Motors South Africa’s success stories since the 2004 launch and the updated version looks set to continue in the wheel tracks of a car which has lived up to its name like no other:

Picanto is derived from the French word “piquant”, meaning “spicy” and “Canto” meaning “song”. The core strengths of the range; namely frugality, eager performance, excellent space utilization and confidence-inspiring handling, remain unchanged and will continue to draw a cross-section of buyer’s ranging from those coming into the car market for the first time to empty-nesters.

The 2008 version has a fresh new look, underpinned by a completely revised front end. Bigger, height-adjustable headlamps with single piece polycarbonate covers flank a grille with KIA’s trademark twin chrome bars supporting the company’s distinctive logo. The bonnet and front fenders have also changed, to fit seamlessly with the new light clusters and improve the wind-cheating ability

The rear of the Picanto has been refreshed, with restyled tail lights mimicking the same circular/semi-circular treatment at the front.

Impact-resistant bumpers are now colour-coded on all models and have integral mud flaps.

Irrespective of which one of the ten exciting new palette of colours is chosen, glance at the Picanto from a few meters away and it is obvious that the 2008 incarnation is neater and more modern, while retaining its trademark ‘cuteness’ that has made it both instantly-recognizable and extremely popular with its target market.

The range will offer something for everyone with a base model as well as LX and EX models. The latter identifiable thanks to its front fog lamps, alloy wheels and side indicator repeaters in the exterior mirrors. The Ex model also sports a body kit with a roof spoiler with integrated high-level brake light. Both LX and EX have a rear wiper.

All versions are powered by the proven 1.1 liter SOHC engine which thanks to its three valves per cylinder layout provides an excellent blend of sporty performance and outstanding fuel economy. With 48 kW at 5 500 rpm and 98 Nm of torque at just 2 800 rpm it has more than enough zest to live up to its name. The zero to 100 km/h sprint will take about 15 seconds, en route to a top speed of 152 km per hour. Once again, a four-speed automatic is also available.

It is the fuel consumption numbers that will matter most to the target market and the Picanto is one of the most efficient cars on the road. In a combination of city and long distance driving it’ll return an average of 6,2 liters per 100 km in five-speed manual guise and 7,3 for the two-pedal version, translating into a useful tank range of about 500 km. (Consumption figures attained in set conditions)

Light cars with a short wheelbase can be at a disadvantage in the ride and handling stakes if not carefully designed but KIA’s chassis engineers who have worked diligently to make the Picanto as pleasurable to drive as it is to look at. Working with proven MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle combined with the longest possible wheelbase and track widths front and rear, they’ve managed to provide a comfortable ride with assured road manners.

An anti-roll bar at either end gives the Picanto the ability to change direction briskly when called upon to do so. In the LX and EX models this is also particularly effortless thanks to speed sensitive hydraulic assistance for the rack and pinion steering.

A man’s home used to be his castle but in the modern world, a man’s (or woman’s) home is his car and the Picanto continues to provide the right balance of comfort and practicality to make long stints at the wheel pass effortlessly.

It is all about, creating an atmosphere which is like an extension of the home or office, providing both the space to manoeuvre while putting everything within easy reach. To this end the Picanto has been configured with an array of storage solutions, consumer research helping the interior designers to hone in on the type of actions which modern car-users need most.

The centre console provides a pair of molded cup holders and a tray which is equally useful for small change as it is for a cell phone. Then there’s a large, “double-decker” glove box, and map pockets in the front doors.

In the back, is a third cup holder, a multifunction storage bin and back seat pockets for magazines and the like. All of this has been achieved without impacting on the amount of space and the rear of the Picanto is designed with three children or two larger bodies in mind, safety and comfort enhanced for adults by the standard headrests.

On the EX model a 40:60 split rear seat allows the luggage compartment to be increased from 157 to 882 with the rear seats ‘double’ folded. A standard luggage cover, courtesy lamp and luggage hooks are just some of the features which contibute to the Picanto’s user-friendly persona.

The Picanto’s seats have being designed to provide greater comfort and support for people of all shapes and sizes. For example, the driver’s seat travels through a 190 mm range, allowing a large amount of adjustment.

While the fundamentals are the same, cabin fitments have been substantially updated and there is new upholstery, a new instrument cluster, new gear knob, revised secondary controls to make the Picanto ever-easier to drive. The instrumentation now includes dual trip meters and a ‘door-ajar’ warning light. The Picanto also comes standard with remote central locking and an immobilizer with an encoded transponder key which makes it impossible to start the car without the key.

Both the LX and EX models come with a powerful air-conditioning system for added comfort as well as electrically adjusted mirrors (only EX) and electric front windows (front and rear for the flagship EX). An MP3 compatible sound system with Auxiliary socket available as dealer-fitted option.

Radio and Ipod sockets are available on the LX and EX as an option.

Its small size belies the Picanto’s safety equipment, and depending on the model, Kia’s new baby includes a driver airbag on the LX model while the EX boasts dual airbags , pre-tensioning seatbelts and anti-lock brakes with EBD (Only EX)

All models are equipped with ventilated front discs and boast excellent crash protection thanks to features such as front and rear crumple zones which deform in a controlled manner. In addition, the engine and gearbox are designed to drop below the passenger compartment in a major frontal impact.

The new KIA Picanto remains a solid offering and the overall flavour is still one of value, with a soupcon of character, a large dash of practicality and more than a hint of safety and luxury thrown in.

Price and Warranty

So it should come as no surprise, that the all new Picanto’s will be launched into South Africa at an incredible starting point of

  • Picanto Base Manual  R 77995
  • CL Alarm T/Key
  • Picanto Base Auto R 86995
  • CL Alarm T/Key
  • Picanto LX Manual R 89995
  • AC EW PS CL Alarm T/Key Driver Airbag
  • Picanto LX Auto R99995
  • AC EW PS CL Alarm T/Key Driver Airbag
  • Picanto EX Manual R105995
  • AC Dual Airbags ABS EW PS Keyless Entry CL Alarm T/Key AW
  • Picanto EX Auto R115995
  • AC Dual Airbags ABS EW PS Keyless Entry CL Alarm T/Key AW

Adding tremendous value, the pricing includes Kia’s industry leading 5 year/100 000km warranty incorporating 3 year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance. An additional service plan of 2years/ 45000km can be purchased for R 3089.40 for peace of mind motoring. Servicing is required at 15000km intervals or every 12 months whichever occurs first on all models.

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