Kia Picanto

The outgoing model was good enough to win the award for Australia’s Best Cars’ Micro category, but Kia has upped the ante and just released its next generation Picanto.

Carried over is the 1.25-litre four-cylinder engine coupled to a four-speed automatic.

Despite its on-road footprint remaining the same as that of the outgoing model, Kia claims best-in-class packaging efficiency.

Though no larger overall than the model it replaces (1485mm in height, 3595mm long and 1595mm wide), a new platform boasts a longer wheelbase and longer rear overhang, freeing up more space in the cabin and boot.

There is better leg- and head-room than rivals in the A-segment, while a lower step height makes for easier ingress and egress, Kia says.

The boot grows from 200 litres (VDA) to a maximum 255 litres – the most of any car in the class. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats can be folded completely flat with a one-touch lever, for maximum ease of use, boosting cargo capacity to 1010 litres.

The suspension — independent by MacPherson strut at the front; torsion beam at the rear — has been tweaked to realise greater ride stability and quicker, more enjoyable handling response. Kia’s Australian ride and handling team was further tasked with giving the newcomer a thorough make-over for a more refined ride, sportier characteristics and steering absent of the “nervous” feel sometimes associated with smaller cars.

Refinement measures 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 have been incorporated to 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 6mm 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 and 68 dB at a steady cruise, Kia says.

For the Australian market, the new Picanto is available in a single, highly-specified model with Apple i-Play, Android Auto, cruise control, dusk sensing headlamps, driver’s safety window and dynamic parking guidelines.

There’s a choice of eight colours with five new pearlescent finishes: ‘Lime Green’, ‘Signal Red’, ‘Aurora Black’ ‘Pop Orange’ and ‘Sparkling Silver’.

A ‘floating’ 7.0-inch HMI touchscreen at the centre of the dashboard is available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full smartphone integration. A reversing camera with dynamic guidelines is also standard.

The new Picanto is the sturdiest A-segment car Kia says it has made, featuring double the proportion of Advanced High Strength Steel compared to the outgoing model and a selection of active safety technologies.

The stronger, lighter body is supported by six standard airbags 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. Riding on 14-inch steel wheels, Picanto is the first car in its class to offer buyers torque vectoring by braking.

Kia’s seven-year Warranty, seven-year Capped Price Service and seven-year Roadside Assist applies.