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Kia reveals next Picanto

Go Picanto: Kia has been so pleased with the performance of its recently introduced second-gen Picanto that the freshly revealed model will be making a beeline to Australia.

Third-generation Kia Picanto arriving Down Under mid-2017

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Kia logo23 Dec 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

KIA has released a first look at its third-generation Picanto micro car in a set of three renderings, but despite the reveal coming just eight months after the current-gen version landed in Australia, the new version will be heading here as soon as possible, says the car-maker.

Speaking to GoAuto, Kia Motors Australia media and corporate communications manager Kevin Hepworth said the launch of the current Picanto in April had partly been an exercise to test Australia’s response to a new model in the unpredictable compact segment.

“The idea was a toe in the water to see what the market was like and the acceptance of the vehicle,” he said. “It’s been exceptional.” To the end of November, Kia had registered 1526 Picantos in Australia ranking it third in the segment behind the Mitsubishi Mirage with 2791 to its name and the new Holden Spark, which has found 1603 homes despite only being in the market since March.

Mr Hepworth said part of the Picanto’s success was attributable to its sharp price, which starts at $14,990 driveaway in a segment that is heavily price-lead.

“We’re not charging $16,990 to get in it for a start,” he said. “That is the most price sensitive segment in the market. $500 or $600 makes a huge difference to that car.” Like every new Kia, the Picanto is sold with the company’s market-leading seven-year warranty and Mr Hepworth highlighted university students as one particular buyer who benefits from the deal.

“When they’ve finished their degree you’re either selling it with four years on the warranty, which is longer than any of the others (brands) offer as new, or you pass it on to the next generation in the family.

“It’s not just the cost out the door. People look at it as a value equation over the ownership.” Mr Hepworth confirmed that the company had been pleased by the current model’s reception in Australia and that the next version would be arriving late in the second quarter of 2017. “It’s always been the plan to get that Picanto in as soon as it launches,” he said.

The latest sketches reveal a stylish new version of the little Kia with an unmistakable Kia family resemblance but with some sporty flashes to appeal to a younger audience.

Some design flair may fall by the wayside on the way from two-dimensional rendering to the production line but, unlike some concepts, there is nothing about the Picanto’s sharp aesthetics which look unfeasible for a road-going version.

Its interior appears as tidy and well laid-out as any other of the company’s models on the market and is depicted with a large central screen, sporty steering wheel and door-trim flashes, and an automatic transmission.

An auto for Australia is almost a given if the car is to sell in the same numbers as the current version, but a manual is also likely and would offer a version to younger driving enthusiasts as well as potentially offering a saving on the bottom line.

Exact specification and pricing are too far off to be discussed at this stage but GoAuto understands a single-specification strategy is the most likely approach for the new Picanto, mirroring the current range.

While fans will have to wait for a locked-in list of goodies, Mr Hepworth said the new version would represent a significant advancement over the second-generation Picanto.

“It will be a much more technologically advanced vehicle with a lot more kit in it and a lot more design,” he said.

In a release accompanying the first official images, Kia says the car will offer greater potential for personalisation inside and out, while offering a “more assertive stance through bolder body lines and a vibrant colour palette”.

A full reveal of the showroom version will be rolled out early in the New Year, but Kia is not yet touting a venue or event, leaving the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas or an in-house Kia event in South Korea as possibilities.

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