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Geneva show: Kia has designs on new Picanto

Small wonder: The evolutionary design of the Picanto was a direct result of the outgoing version’s sales success globally, according to Kia Motors Europe’s design chief.

New-generation Kia Picanto set to continue top sales form when it lobs in April


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9 Mar 2017


KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) is confident its new-generation Picanto micro car will continue the strong sales form of the outgoing model when it arrives with both a manual and automatic transmission option – the manual being a new addition – in April.

The latest version of the city hatch will initially be offered with a 1.25-litre four-cylinder engine carried over from the outgoing model, but a new 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder powertrain is also being considered.

Since the Picanto launched last year, well into the second-generation model’s lifecycle, Kia sold 1934 examples in nine months to be the second-best seller in the segment behind the Mitsubishi Mirage.

So far this year, it is leading the segment, with 572 units shifted, outpacing the Mirage (523) and Holden Spark (213).

KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith said the company was pleased with the initial response to the Picanto in its first year on sale.

“We are happy with Picanto, but like always we are looking forward to the new model,” he told Australian journalists ahead of the Geneva motor show reveal of the new-generation hatch. “It was a bit of a gamble launching the Picanto in the fifth year of its model cycle but it has paid off for us.”

The outgoing model is sold in one specification level only for $14,990 driveaway, but the addition of new technology including a new central touchscreen with satellite navigation, a more upmarket interior and additional infotainment and safety technology could push pricing up slightly for the new model.

Mr Meredith said pricing would be confirmed in the few weeks, adding that he hoped it could stay at a similar price point.

“We haven’t finalised the price at this point in time. We would like to be around about the same mark, because I think that is the value proposition of where we are, but it is yet to be decided,” he said.

KMAu general manager of media and corporate communications Kevin Hepworth added: “The price discussion is going to be slightly different this time as it will include the manual. So there is going to be a price-leader car in there where there hasn’t been a manual previously.”

While the Picanto has adopted a familiar design in its third generation, it now gets LED headlights and all-new panels as well as a redesigned interior.

Speaking with Australian journalists on the Kia stand at Geneva, Kia Motors Europe chief designer Gregory Guillaume said the success of the outgoing model helped determine the evolutionary design of the new Picanto.

“It’s always ‘case by case’ when you do a redesign of an existing model, you are always analysing how successful was the car before and if it was, what does it mean to the customer, what do they want to keep to recognise whether it is the successor or do you start from scratch,” he said.

“With Picanto, it is a very successful car in Europe, it has a pretty strong fan base, so you don’t want to just throw everything out and start from scratch. Plus, we are quite limited with Picanto with the format of the car, because it has got to fit into a tax bracket in Korea that is very specific.

The car hasn’t changed in dimension at all compared to the previous car.”

Mr Guillaume said he believed Picanto punched above its weight design-wise, adding that it was important for buyers to feel proud of the car they are driving.

“I think it looks quite a bit more mature than the one before. With Picanto it is quite funny, I always think, it is a very small car that doesn’t know it is.

Somebody forgot to tell Picanto, you are actually a tiny car. It thinks it is bigger than it is. I think that is good,” he said.

“Even if it is a very small car that might not cost much, you should always feel that you are giving your customers as much as you can and you should be really proud to drive that.

“There is always a danger when you design a very small car that it ends up looking a bit like a toy, or unserious and you want to be very careful with that.”

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