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Kia Picanto: more details (copyright image)

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17th March, 2011

  • Stand-out styling for 5-door and 3-door hatchbacks
  • Choice of three highly-efficient ‘Kappa’ engines with 51-63 kW
  • Greatly reduced CO2 emissions, from 90 g/km

The all-new Kia Picanto, which made its global premiere at Switzerland's Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, has been redesigned and re-engineered with stand-out styling that conveys a sense of solidity and maturity. 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’ category, known as the A-segment in Europe.

“Our new Picanto is now a small car, grown-up,” comments Soon-Nam Lee, Director of Overseas Marketing, Kia Motors Corporation. “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.”

“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 Mr Lee.

“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. I am sure that this new small Kia will become even more popular than the current vehicle.”

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 around the world later this year. An Australian release has not yet been confirmed.

More space, more style, more body types 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 brilliant 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 line-up. Kia has taken a courageous 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, neat proportions and dynamic design language.

Kia Picanto in its newest form exudes a bold self confidence and maturity which is unique in its segment.

Looking at the stance of the new Picanto, for instance, there is a greater sense of stability and strength which is emphasised by the 'muscular' wheel arches, low wide rocker panel and wide set alloy wheels.

Up front, the 'face' of the new Kia 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 optional LED daylight running lights suggest high levels of design and high tech sophistication. Combined with a dramatic lower grille opening, the lights provide a sporty and distinctive down road graphic.

This bold front end is supported by a strongly-sculpted and dynamic body which emphasises 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 emphasises modernity, with its large rear window framed by the unique rear lamp graphic and supported by a strong purposeful bumper section.

Picanto makes a strong, well balanced and cohesive design statement which avoids unnecessary superficial decoration and combines a contemporary fashionable feel with rational functionality.  This is a car which would be equally at home downtown or in the country.

The 3-door model, with its unique treatment to C-pillar, bumpers and grille, offers 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 emphasises the car’s width and strength. It’s all finely tuned to provide 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. These 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 per cent 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 rear lamps will be available, together with a choice of steel or alloy wheels with diameters up to 15 inches – bringing added sophistication to the exterior appearance.

Kia expects the new 3-door model to account for a third of Picanto sales. The sportier-looking 3-door will be key in driving ‘conquest’ sales to new, younger consumer groups.

Manufactured exclusively at Kia’s 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.

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 functionality as the exterior with major controls arranged in an attractive and easy-to-use lay out which emphasises 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.

Another innovation which the Kia Picanto brings to its segment is an attractive choice of interior trim options. Two interior environment colours – ebony black and alpine grey – are complemented by no fewer than four different cloth options, two additional ‘premium’ trim packages, as well as the special pack with its own unique seats in two colour combinations. By offering eight very different interior packages – each of which with matching decor details and combinable with an ideal exterior colour – Kia has managed to introduce a ‘premium’ level of individualisation to the segment. The interior can be contemporary, sporty or premium, depending on the customer’s preference and offers the choice between the two very different Picanto body styles.

Features being 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 and engine start/stop automatic ISG that further enhances fuel economy.

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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 improves 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 63 kW and 121 Nm of torque tops the line-up. Two three-cylinder, 998 cc units will present customers with a choice of petrol or Bi-fuel technologies (LPG plus petrol). The petrol engine produces 51 kW  and 95 Nm of torque. The Bi-fuel unit delivers 60 kW and 94 Nm of torque.

To minimise consumer anxiety about running out of LPG while driving in some European countries, the Bi-fuel model features a 35-litre LPG tank and a 10-litre petrol 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 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 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 1.25 litre 63 kW  engine.

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.

The MacPherson strut front suspension features an increased castor angle (now 4.1 degrees), for enhanced straight-line driving stability, 12 per cent softer springs and longer wheel travel with shorter (by 20 mm) bump-stops.

At the rear, the CTBA (coupled torsion beam axle), is 60 per cent stiffer (reducing under-steer), with 29 per cent softer springs, shorter (by 15 mm) bump-stops and larger trailing-arm bushes for improved stability and a more compliant ride.

The Picanto’s all-disc braking system, which is standard on all models fitted with ESC (electronic stability control), is backed up with standard ABS anti-lock, electronic brake force distribution and emergency ‘brake assist’ systems. Stopping distance from 100 kph is among the class-best at 41.0 metres and is significantly better than many A-segment cars. Models not fitted with ESC feature drum brakes at the rear.

Enhanced safety for occupants and pedestrians

The all-new body shell made for the new Kia Picanto uses a higher percentage of high-strength steel and incorporates ring-shaped reinforcing loops within the B- and C-pillars, 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 in Europe), electronic stability control, hill-start assist, 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, making a deformable cowling ahead of the windscreen and off-setting the bonnet striker by 50 mm from the car’s centre line.

As well as enhancing the ride/handling and impact resistance, the stiffer body shell 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.


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