New Kia Picanto facelift arrives with distinctive EV9 looks
The updated Kia Picanto city car gets an eye-catching lighting design and a squarer shape
The city car segment has been declining in recent years, with many manufacturers withdrawing their smallest models in favour of more profitable SUVs and crossovers. But Kia sees the void left as an opportunity for its Picanto, and the Korean brand has given its compact city car a second facelift to attract new buyers looking for an affordable petrol hatchback.
Auto Express was invited for an exclusive preview of the 2024 Picanto and its striking new exterior inspired by Kia’s flagship EV9 SUV. This includes the front and rear-light signature plus a squarer look overall.
The new Picanto gets a full-width light bar at the front and the rear, but it’s unique to GT-Line trim; lesser models have black trim. Sporty design cues on the old car, such as the eye-catching pops of red, are replaced with more upmarket black trim pieces.
Kia’s 2024 Picanto shares its dimensions with the outgoing model, given that this is little more than a cosmetic upgrade, although its new look gives the illusion of a larger vehicle with greater road presence. When asked, Kia’s product expert Andrea De Arcangelis said this was a concerted effort by the brand to attract buyers who would have considered the larger, soon-to-be-discontinued Kia Rio supermini. It’s also a technique that’s already been used elsewhere in the city car segment, including on cars such as Toyota’s Aygo X.
Inside, the latest Picanto is largely the same as the outgoing model, although new interior colour options, such as Adventurous Green – which mirrors a new exterior paint – and Rich Brown will be offered.
The generous list of safety kit includes a driver-attention monitoring system, while the Forward Collision System gets an update to help avoid turning into traffic at junctions.
Trim levels for the UK line-up are yet to be confirmed, but it’s likely the ‘1’ grade and X-Line models will be discontinued. Kia is keen to keep things as simple as possible, so we can expect ‘2’, ‘3’, and GT-Line trims.
The outgoing model’s 66bhp 1.0-litre non-turbo petrol engine is carried over, while a 1.2 is also available. However, Kia’s 99bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi turbo petrol will not be offered. Both engines will be available with five-speed manual (60mpg estimated) and automatic transmissions (55mpg est.).
Given that many rival brands are leaving the city car class, and affordable superminis such as the Ford Fiesta are going out of production, Kia is hoping for an increase in interest in the Picanto. There has been no official word on prices yet, but we’d expect a slight jump over the outgoing 66bhp Picanto 2’s £14,165 price tag.
When asked if this would be the last petrol-powered Picanto, we were told that the future of the company’s city car hinges greatly on this facelift. Whether the Picanto could make an appearance as a hybrid or an EV in the future also remains to be seen.
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