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Kia Picanto – all new body but same drive train – very good for entry level vehicle

Kia has launched their latest Picanto compact car only a year after they introduced the first model onto the Australian market.

The first model was good but not of the most up to date design.  It had been on sale in other markets for about four years.

At the launch of the new car Damien Meredith the Chief operating officer for Kia Australia explains the business reasons for dipping their toe in the water 12 months ago with an older product.

They have redesigned the latest model both inside and out although the power train (not its strongest point) remains the same.

They have produced a more distinctive, more masculine style (their words not mine).  But to keep the price down there are no mag wheels.

Infotainment with connectivity are some of the buzz words of modern cars and the Picanto joins the fray with a 7 inch screen and Apple and Android smartphone integration.

This means you can use the cleverness of your phone with voice commands and maps for example, while driving.

They have worked hard on reducing noise levels in the cabin with things like sound proofing, a better engine cover and lowering the windscreen wipers when not in use to reduce wind noise.  It’s better but a course grained bitumen road is still quite noticeable but consistent for this class of vehicle.

It still has the 1.25 litre petrol engine with a scanty 62 Kw and the automatic is still the meagre four speed variety.  Sufficient for urban situations perhaps but not grand touring in the country.  It is doing well over 3000 revs at 100 km/hr.

This time they have provided an entry level manual gearbox – 5 speed.  The clutch and gear level movement are very light which makes it easy to drive but for the purists it is a bit like a computer game consul rather than the traditional feeling of working with a mechanical device.  They reckon 10-20% of sales will be manuals but I wonder why it will be this high because they have a funny pricing structure.  The manual has a recommended retail price of $14,190.  Add on road costs and it has to be at least $15,500.  Automatics usually cost about $2,000 more but the Picanto automatic is $15,690 drive away no more to pay.  Damien Meredith gave a very clear hint that if you do want a manual you should bargain with the dealer.  $13,990 drive away might be an offer worth making but that’s not official.

As far as the drive train goes they do have torque vectoring which is a first in this class.  This technology helps the wheels get grip on the road especially when starting out and it can help handling.

It doesn’t have Automatic Emergency Breaking which is not surprising for this category except that it will become a mandatory feature to get a five-star safety rating in 2018.  Kia have put in a passionate request for this to head office.

Originally aired on 6 May 2017. For past programs and individual segments visit www.drivenmedia.com.au

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