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2011 Kia Picanto Review

The all-new Kia Picanto, which made its global premiere earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show, has been redesigned and re-engineered with stand-out styling that conveys a sense of solidity and maturity.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
Longer than the previous model, and with an extended wheelbase, new Picanto promises more passenger comfort and increased cargo space. Offered for the first time with a choice of 5-door and 3-door body styles, it is set to completely redefine its position as one of the most competitive vehicles in the global ‘city car’ A-segment.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
“Our new Picanto is now a small car, grown-up,” comments Benny Oeyen, Vice President Marketing and Product Planning, Kia Motors Europe. “It is such a complete car, such a high quality package, offering numerous premium features and multiple trim choices, that it will raise the fundamental perception of A-segment models to a higher level.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
“New Picanto will also maintain Kia’s reputation for delivering great value. It will deliver premium features at affordable prices and generate increased showroom traffic at our dealerships. We anticipate that global demand for A-segment cars will be in the region of 2.4-million units annually over the next six years and we are confident that new Picanto will enable us to capture a larger share of this market,” adds Oeyen.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
“The first generation Picanto marked our debut in the A-segment in 2004 and went on to achieve more than 1.1 million sales globally over the following seven years. In Europe, Picanto sales have reached more than 300,000 – including 47,800 units last year. I am sure that this new small Kia will become even more popular than its predecessor,” concludes Oeyen.
Kia customers will benefit from the next generation Picanto’s greatly reduced CO2 emissions, improved fuel economy and reduced ownership costs when the company’s latest A-segment hatchback goes on sale across Europe a little later this year.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
Styling & Design
More space, more style, more choice and less drag
Over the last three years the Kia product family has undergone a complete design metamorphosis, moving from ‘rational mainstream’ to ‘trendsetter’.
This process started with the iconic Kia Soul, and was accelerated with the arrival of the distinctive Venga and the dramatic new Sportage. These exciting new vehicles all belong to a new design strategy that has redefined Kia as a manufacturer of trendsetting cars with global appeal.
The Picanto is the newest member to join this exciting and stylish Kia family. Kia has taken a courageous new step with the latest version of its smallest model. The character of the car has been transformed from ‘cute’ and ‘friendly’ into mature and handsome, designed to turn heads on the high street, thanks to its good looking, sexy proportions and dynamic design language. Picanto in its newest form exudes a bold self confidence and maturity which is unique in the A-segment.
Looking at the stance of the new Picanto, for instance, there is a greater sense of stability and strength which is emphasized by the muscular wheel arches, low wide rocker panel and wide set alloy wheels.
Up front, the face of the Picanto expresses the same assertive vigour and refinement as its bigger brothers, the Venga and the Sportage, and shares with them the same signature ‘tiger nose’ grille.
The ‘eyes’ of the tiger, formed by Picanto’s standard daylight running lights (with optional LED on EX models*) suggest high levels of design and high-tech sophistication. Combined with a dramatic lower grille opening, the lights create a sporty and distinctive down-road graphic.
This bold front end is supported by a strongly-sculpted and dynamic body which emphasizes the strength and maturity of the Picanto and gives the vehicle a real ‘premium presence’ on the road. The strong body feature line along the flank brings a dynamic tension to the car’s profile and beautifully integrates the exterior door handles. This is just another example of the attention to detail which sets the new Picanto apart from its competitors.
Looking from the rear, the Picanto’s new design theme emphasizes chic modernity, with its large rear window framed by the unique rear lamp graphic and supported by a strong purposeful bumper section.
New Picanto makes a strong, well balanced and cohesive design statement which avoids unnecessary decoration and combines a contemporary fashionable feel with rational functionality. This is a car which will be equally at home downtown or in the countryside.
The 3-door model, with its unique treatment to C-pillar, bumpers and grille, will go on sale during the third quarter of 2011. It will offer an even more exciting exterior theme which will broaden the Picanto’s appeal to an even wider audience.
The graphic composition of the 3-door Picanto’s front face has been subtly moulded to increase the sporty character of the vehicle. The expression is more aggressive, the message is livelier – this car is looking for action! Likewise from the rear, the contrasting bumper insert emphasizes the car’s width and strength. It’s all finely tuned to create a car with a distinctly different character to the 5-door model.
While becoming more stylish, the new 3.6-metre long Picanto will also remain an extremely practical car. On the outside, overall vehicle length has increased by 60 mm, and the wheelbase has grown by 15 mm. Although new Picanto is a larger car with more equipment, clever engineering and greater use of high-strength steel in the bodyshell has resulted in the new model weighing a little less than its predecessor – up to 10 kg less, depending on model.
These dimension increases, and some clever interior packaging, have enhanced the cabin space for people (front legroom is up by 36 mm), and for cargo, with trunk capacity increased by 27% to 200 litres.
Attention to small details of the exterior design have improved the new Picanto’s aerodynamics, reducing its drag figure to just Cd 0.31 – better than the vast majority of A-segment cars.
Projection-style headlamps and LED daytime running lights, rear combination lamps and high-level stop light will be available as options on EX models. On both LX and EX models*, customers can choose to have 14-inch or 15-inch alloy wheels instead of the standard steel wheels – bringing added sophistication to the new Picanto’s exterior appearance.
Kia expects the new 3-door model to account for 33% of Picanto sales. The sportier-looking 3-door will be key in driving ‘conquest’ sales to new, younger consumer groups.
Manufactured exclusively at the Seosan plant in Korea, new Picanto will be presented in a range of nine exterior colours (for Europe) – two solid and seven metallic – but individual markets may offer a selection of these colours to suit local preferences.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
Comfort & Convenience
Raising the benchmark with ‘big car’ comforts
Picanto’s new found maturity is also reflected in the interior design, which sets a new benchmark in its class for material quality and trim choices.
New Picanto’s sophisticated interior will offer buyers numerous ‘big car’ comfort and convenience features – many of them fitted for the first time on a car in this segment. It will set a new benchmark in its class for material quality and the range of trim choices that introduces a ‘premium’ level of individualisation to this segment.
The interior architecture shows the same chic functionality as the exterior with major controls arranged in an attractive and easy to use layout which emphasizes the width and space of the interior. The thick rimmed two-spoke steering wheel and the signature Kia ‘three cylinder’ instrument cluster with its clear and precise graphics, reflect the consistency with which the new design philosophy is being used throughout the Kia product line-up.
An unusual innovation which new Picanto brings to the A-segment is an attractive choice of interior trim options. Two interior environment colours – Ebony Black and Alpine Grey, in woven cloth for LX and woven/tricot cloth for EX – are complemented by three special trim packages for EX models.
The Deluxe Pack adds full man-made leather upholstery and trim, while the New Chic Pack features a mix of cloth and leather trim – both in Ebony Black. The range-topping Premium Sports Pack has woven tricot cloth/man-made leather in black or grey, plus a Supervision instrument cluster and alloy sports pedals.
By offering very different interior packages – each of which has matching decor details and can be combined with the customer’s ideal exterior colour – Kia has managed to introduce a premium level of individualisation to the segment. The interior can be chic, sporty or premium, depending on the customer’s preference and next year new Picanto will also offer a choice between the two very different body styles.
New features introduced with new Picanto will offer owners UV-reducing windscreen glass, automatically controlled air-conditioning, electric folding door mirrors, automatic light control with ‘escort’ and ‘welcome’ modes, passenger seat storage tray, under-floor storage box, retractable dual cup holders with mood lighting, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors and a ‘gear shift indicator’ to encourage an economical driving style.
Other new features available include smart-key entry system with engine start/stop button, AUX, iPod and USB connections for the RDS radio CD player with MP3 compatibility, Bluetooth® hands-free with voice recognition, ‘active’ head restraints, driver’s knee airbag, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, reversing parking sensors, HAC (Hill start Assist Control) and engine start/stop automatic ISG that further enhances fuel economy. See ‘Standard & Optional Equipment’ section for full details.
As well as enhancing the ride/handling and accident impact resistance, the stiffer bodyshell structure of new Picanto is the foundation for much improved refinement that will make this Kia the class-leader in the A-segment.
NVH counter-measures include larger hydraulic mountings for the engine and transmission, a triple-layer dashboard bulkhead sound-deadening panel, dual door sealing strips, and two measures to reduce wind noise – sound-blockers within the door mirror mounts and moving the radio antenna towards the rear of the roof.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
Engines & Transmissions
Highly efficient engines deliver great fuel economy
In Europe, every new Picanto will come with a highly efficient Kappa engine that helps lower this model’s CO2 base-line to just 90 g/km and lowers fuel consumption to as little as 4.1 litres/100 km.
Three versions of the Kappa will be offered. A four-cylinder, 1,248 cc engine that generates 85 ps and 121 Nm of torque tops the line-up. Two three-cylinder, 998 cc units will present customers with a choice of a pure gasoline engine or one that drives on LPG and gasoline. The gasoline engine produces 69 ps and 95 Nm of torque. The LPG unit delivers 82 ps and 94 Nm of torque.
To minimise consumer anxiety about running out of LPG while driving in some European countries, the LPG model features a 35-litre LPG tank and a 10-litre gasoline tank, allowing owners to drive up to 150 km after the LPG has been used.
Made in Korea, the Kappa family of engines share many common characteristics, including dual CVVT (continuously variable valve timing), a cast aluminium block, off-set crankshaft, maintenance-free long-life timing chain and low-friction ‘beehive’ valve springs.
This combination of advanced technologies means that exhaust emissions have been significantly reduced, so that regular (non-ISG) models in the new Picanto line-up will have a CO2 rating of 95 to 105 g/km. Fuel economy will range from 4.2 to 5.9 litres per 100 km, contributing to lower running costs.
In Europe, all models will also be available with Kia’s fuel-stretching Eco-Dynamics technologies (automatic stop-start – ISG, advanced alternator control, upgraded starter motor and low-rolling resistance tyres), cutting CO2 emissions even further – to between 90 and 100 g/km – so that every model qualifies for local emissions-based tax savings, where available, and improving fuel economy to a range of 4.1 to 5.6 litres per 100 km.
Standard transmission for all engines in new Picanto will be a 5-speed manual, while a 4-speed automatic gearbox will be available as an option on the 1.2-litre 85 ps engine. With automatic transmission, new Picanto records a competitive fuel economy figure of 5.3 l/100 km, and a CO2 rating of 125 g/km.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
Suspension & Running gear
Improved ride, stability and braking
New Picanto’s suspension and running gear has been developed from the previous model to retain that car’s responsive handling while improving ride quality and refinement.
Rack and pinion steering is fitted for its good balance between steering precision, feel and effort, with electric power-assistance as standard. City driving agility is assured by a turning circle of less than 10 meters.
The MacPherson strut front suspension features an increased castor angle (now 4.1 degrees), for enhanced straight-line driving stability, 12% softer springs and longer wheel travel with shorter (by 20 mm) bump-stops.
At the rear, the CTBA (coupled torsion beam axle) is 60% stiffer (reducing under-steer), with 29% softer springs, shorter (by 15 mm) bump-stops and larger trailing-arm bushes for improved stability and a more compliant ride.
The Picanto’s standard braking system, which features 241mm ventilated front discs and 180 mm drums at the rear, is backed up with ABS anti-lock, EBD electronic brake force distribution, BAS emergency ‘brake assist’ and ESS emergency stop signal systems – in the majority of European countries.
As an option, customer can specify ESC (electronic stability control) which also comes with 234 mm solid rear discs, HAC and the innovative VSM (vehicle stability management) which pro-actively counters understeer and oversteer with corrective steering inputs.
Minimum stopping distance for new Picanto with the all-disc braking system from 100 kph (62 mph) is among the class-best at 41.0 metres and is significantly better than many A-segment cars.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
Safety & Security
Enhanced safety for occupants and pedestrians
The all-new bodyshell created for new Picanto uses a greater percentage of high-strength steel and incorporates ring-shaped reinforcing loops within the B- and C-pillars, and across the floor pan and roof, plus additional bracing at the front between the cowl and suspension towers for improved rigidity.
For greater side-impact protection, the B-pillar and side sills are reinforced with high-tensile steel plates, the anti-intrusion door-beams are extended to overlap the B-pillar and polyurethane pads are fitted within the front door trims.
Available safety equipment will include up to seven airbags (with a new driver’s knee airbag as an option on EX models), ESC electronic stability control, HAC hill-start assist control, and ‘active’ front seat head restraints to protect against whiplash injury in a rear impact.
For additional safety, an ESS (Emergency Stop Signal) system is standard in Europe. Sensors detect when the driver is braking suddenly and hard, and then flash the brake lights three times to alert following drivers that the car is slowing rapidly.
Pedestrian safety has also been improved by fitting a new cross-member below the front bumper, creating a deformable cowling ahead of the windscreen and off-setting the hood striker (inside the engine bay) by 50 mm from the car’s centre line.
2011 Kia Picanto photo2011 Kia Picanto photo
After achieving a 5-Star (top score) safety rating in EuroNCAP crash tests with the (Europe only) Kia cee’d and Venga, plus the globally-available Soul, Sportage and Sorento, Kia engineers are confident that new Picanto will prove to be one of the safest A-segment cars in both EuroNCAP and other international crash tests.


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