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First look: Kia’s first Picanto three-door

Another Picanto hatched: Kia’s newest hatchback is unlikely to be sold in Australia – at least in three-door guise.

Kia’s first three-door Picanto emerges on eve of five-door Rio’s Australian launch

Kia logo16 Aug 2011

KIA has revealed its first ever Picanto three-door on the eve of the larger new Rio hatchback’s Australian launch.

Full pricing and specification have been revealed in Europe ahead of the car’s official release there on September 1 – the same day the all-new Rio five-door goes on sale here.

Kia’s inaugural Picanto three-door is based on the redesigned five-door hatchback that is under consideration for release here, and will be available in the UK with the same 1.0 and 1.25-litre petrol engines and four trim levels.

The booming Korean car-maker predicts that the global market for Picanto-sized city-cars will grow from 2.4 million in 2014 to 3.3 million by 2015, and that three-door models will comprise 30 per cent of that volume, or about one million cars.

Despite that, the Picanto three-door remains off Kia’s agenda in Australia, where the new Picanto five-door now appears certain to slot beneath next month’s new Rio five-door, which will be joined in January by four-door sedan and yet-to-appear three-door hatch versions.

Kia Motors Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth ruled out the Picanto three-door for local showrooms, but confirmed the Picanto five-door remained a strong chance to rival the likes of Holden’s Barina Spark and the Suzuki Alto in Australia’s fledgling sub-light A-segment.

“Australia is still a five-door market and we’re continuing to request the Picanto five-door,” he said. “All of the Picanto’s competitors in Australia are five-door and the five-door is the model for which we continue to develop a business case.”

17 center imageArguably, the three-door Picanto is even cuter than the family-oriented five-door, featuring the same rising beltline but adding longer doors, new rear panels and different glass rear of the A-pillars to suggest even more of a wedge shape.

Kia says the more exclusive three-door derivative – which still accommodates five seats and measures the same 3.6 metres long as the five-door - offers a sportier character while delivering the same safety, efficiency and equipment upgrades as the redesigned Picanto five-door.

“If the five-door Picanto is ‘the small car, grown up’, then the three-door is the same but with a twinkle in its eye,” it said.

Unique alloy wheel designs on the two most expensive variants also set it apart, but the three-door also features revised front and rear styling, including a reprofiled front bumper with larger grille opening – complete with silver or red ‘lipstick’ surround - to make the car look wider and lower, while a full-width lower grille houses a pair of black-bezelled foglights on premium variants.

At the rear, the three-door swaps the five-door’s concealed single exhaust outlet for a pair exposed chromed tailpipes, while a rectangular black central section in place of body colour on the rear bumper also injects more sport.

In Europe, the first three-door version since the original Picanto appeared in 2004 will emit at little as 99g/km of CO2, despite the fact only the larger 1.25-litre ‘Kappa’ engine is available with Kia’s fuel-saving EcoDynamics idle-stop system.

Available in two specifications in the UK, the 1.0-litre three-cylinder Picanto manual produces 51kW/95Nm and returns fuel consumption of 4.2L/100km, while all three 1.25-litre four-cylinder variants deliver 63kW/121Nm and return between 4.3L/100km (EcoDynamics manual) and 5.3L/100km (with a four-speed automatic transmission).

Inside, the three-door gains tilting/sliding front seats to provide rear-seat access, plus a range of interior trim options including all-black, black/grey and premium ‘Chilli’ red.

Standard equipment for all models will include a trip computer, height-adjustable driver’s seat, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, a four-speaker CD/MP3 player and electric power steering, with mid-range variants adding alloy wheels, two speakers, USB and AUX ports, an iPod cable and steering wheel controls.

Top-shelf Picanto models will be offered in the UK with Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, automatic headlights, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rear parking sensors, alloy pedals, climate-control air-conditioning, keyless entry/starting, 15-inch alloys, LED front daytime running lights, LED rear lights, body-coloured side skirts and a red front grille surround.

All Picantos come standard with electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (BAS), plus twin front, side and curtain airbags, and front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters.

Just four exterior paint colours will be available in the UK for the Picanto three-door, which rides on the same new running gear as the five-door, including MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension.

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