This time around, however, the Picanto offering is a little meatier. While its predecessor was only sold in a single configuration and purely as an automatic, the new Picanto features an entry-level manual option to give buyers two transmissions. The range structure is still composed of a single model grade, but specification levels have been boosted to a level well above that of the outgoing Picanto.
The 1.2-litre engine and four-speed automatic carry over unchanged, with four speeds and 62kW/122Nm at the driver’s disposal. The manual, new for 2017, is a basic five-speed. Fuel economy worsens slightly, with the automatic now consuming an average of 5.8L/100km compared to the 5.3L/100km of the lighter 2016 model.
The platform, however, is entirely new. Thanks to the more flexible platform and revised placement of bulky components like the engine and suspension – and coupled with a modest 15mm wheelbase stretch – the 2017 Picanto boasts a roomier cabin without growing its external ‘footprint’.
Front seat passengers benefit the most, with more headroom and legroom available. Backseaters aren’t forgotten however, with a less-upright backrest improving comfort. Second row headroom drops by 2mm, but all other key interior dimensions are either the same or have grown.
The rear seats are split 60/40, and fold down to expand the 255 litre boot capacity (55 litres bigger than the outgoing model) to a useful 1010 litres.
Cabin design has been dramatically updated with a tombstone-style 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display being the centrepiece. There’s no integrated sat-nav, but like the Holden Spark the Picanto allows drivers to bring-their-own navigation via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
Passenger comfort is also improved through sound deadening and insulation material. Foam-injected chassis rails, a thicker firewall insulator, revised door seals, an optimised engine air intake and careful engineering to the car’s structure all help the new Picanto’s cabin feel more refined and less noisy out on the road.
The Picanto’s new bodyshell features more use of high-strength steel to improve crash performance, while brake torque vectoring and a reversing camera are added to the Picanto’s already-standard stability control, traction control, ABS and rear parking sensors.
Kia Picanto manual - $14190 RRP
Kia Picanto automatic - $15,690 drive-away