Kia Picanto GT Review

The Kia Picanto GT gains attitude and athleticism.

Kia Motors Australia (KMA) has endowed its top-selling Micro car, the Picanto, with a pinch of attitude and a punch of athleticism.

The frisky little GT sports a 1.0-litre, turbo GDi three-cylinder engine; five-speed manual gearbox; body kit; twin exhaust; and contrasting body accents. Pricing is $17,990 drive away.

A combination of single scroll turbocharging and direct injection produces 74kW of power @ 4500rpm and 171Nm of torque between 1500 and 4000rpm, some 12kW and 49Nm up on the Picanto S and GT-Line models. Claimed fuel economy (ADR combined cycle) is a superior 4.8 litres/100km.

The T-GDi unit sprays a fine mist of fuel directly into the cylinders through a high-pressure (up to 200 bar) injection system, resulting in highly efficient combustion, Kia says. The result is minimal throttle lag (delay between pressing the accelerator and the turbocharger delivering boost).

Upon driving the car at its national launch in the Yarra Valley, we would agree, but feel this might have something to do with the nicely-matched manual gearshift. Our conclusion is based on having recently driven the Kia Rio GT-Line (same engine, but driving through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission) where lag was evident.

Kia Picanto GT rear interior

To add to the sporty drive experience, the Picanto GT’s Macpherson front strut and U-shaped rear torsion beam architecture have come in for attention. KMA’s in-house ride and handling team formulated a more aggressive tune for the shock absorbers and a stiffer spring rate, aimed at greater body control with better road feedback and improved ride comfort.

The steering mapping has also been tweaked in the search for quicker response and enhanced stability when under load. Addition of lower profile 195/45 rubber to the 16-inch alloys assists all-important grip levels.

Kia says the chassis has carefully designed longitudinal and lateral load paths, in addition to greater torsional and bending rigidity, than the previous model. Stronger steel has been used to strengthen the floor pan, roof rails and engine bay, as well as the A- and B-pillars, creating a rigid core structure, the maker points out.

Safety features includes Autonomous Emergency Braking, Hill Assist Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Torque Vectoring Brake Based, Forward Collision Warning and Straight Line Stability.

Comfort and convenience features are also extensive for a Micro segment vehicle. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth connectivity, four-speaker audio system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, air-conditioning, driver seat height adjustment, and power windows front and rear with auto-up on the driver’s window.

Kia Picanto GT rear