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Future models - Kia - Picanto - GT-Line

Kia Picanto turbo waits in the wings

Tasty triple: The European-spec GT-Line could form the basis of a slightly sporty Picanto variant down the track.

Picanto warm hatch not confirmed but Kia hopes it can make a case for the GT-Line

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Kia logo5 May 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) is considering introducing a sporty version of the just-released Picanto city car, with more performance and racier styling to lure in younger buyers to the fold.

Expected to be based on the European-market Picanto GT-Line with a three-cylinder turbo manual powertrain, the pint-sized micro car could arrive in Australia later this year or early in 2018, but only if it receives the green light from head office in South Korea.

According to KMAu media and corporate communications manager, Kevin Hepworth, no Picanto other than the new S base variant will be offered for the time being, although all options are assessed for Australia if the business case is strong enough.

“We’d love to see a sporty version of the Picanto in Australia,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the new model in Noosa, QLD this week. “But right now it’s only on our wishlist and there would still be a lot of work needed to be done to get something like that over the line.”

We understand that KMAu has already tested and tuned a second steering and suspension component set for the latest, third-generation Picanto in Australia, with the help of Gambold Engineering Services in Melbourne, suggesting that the spicier version would be ready to go should head office in South Korea give it the go ahead.

Based on the GT-Line that has just gone on sale in Europe, the Australian-bound version would ditch the existing S model’s 62kW/122Nm 1.2-litre ‘Kappa’ naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine for a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo unit.

Measuring in at 998cc and featuring four valves per cylinder, this Euro 6-emissions rated T-GDI direct-injection engine delivers 74kW of power at 4500rpm and 172Nm of torque between 1500-4000rpm.

With a kerb weight of just 988kg (European spec), the quickest Picanto is capable of hitting 100km/h from standstill in 10.1 seconds (compared to 12 and 13.7 seconds for the 1.2 manual and auto respectively), on the way to a 180km/h top speed (versus 173km/h for the 1.2 manual and 161km/h for the 1.2 auto).

One potential hurdle is the lack of automatic transmission availability with this particular engine, with the GT-Line only offered with a five-speed manual gearbox. However, a dual-clutch transmission might be offered at a later time.

Pricing could also be a make-or-break issue, with the perkier Picanto needing to be well under $18,000 if it were to have a sales impact in Australia.

The just-released Picanto S kicks off from $14,190 before on-road costs in manual guise, or $15,690 driveaway for the four-speed automatic that is expected to snare between 80 and 90 per cent of all volume.

Along with the spicier powertrain, the GT-Line also includes racier interior trim and a wheel and tyre package upgrade, from the 175/65R14 items on the S to 185/55R15 and even available 195/45R16 rubber.

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