What is it?

KIA’S Picanto, also known as New Morning in some countries, has certainly dawned as a very bright light in the city car segment.

The sturdily-built and cute-as-a-button hatchlet is a big improvement on the earlier model and comes pretty much fully loaded with features, a rarity in its price category.

Also, it has a 7-year warranty, with unlimited distance, and no other car on the market, let alone in the sub-$20K class, comes within cooee of that.

 

What’s it cost?

Refreshingly, there’s just one choice of Picanto: five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, with respective drive-away prices of $14,190 and $15,690.

For 2018 the car has a wider, more aggressive-looking grille, restyled head and taillights and a smoother body.

But the main changes are inside.

The wheelbase is now 15mm longer and clever packaging has resulted in more head, shoulder and legroom for front seat occupants and a considerable increase in boot capacity.

The cargo area has been boosted by 55 litres to 255 litres, and if you fold down the 60/40 split rear seat, it opens to 1010 litres – up a massive 140 litres on the earlier car.

The longer wheelbase has also improved ride and comfort, and the dash has been vastly improved with a ‘floating’ 7.0 inch (17.78 cm) (17.78 cm) (17.78 cm) (17.78 cm) (17.78 cm) (17.78 cm) (17.78 cm) touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full smartphone integration.

It includes a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, backed up by rear parking sensors.

Other standard bits include cruise control, auto-on headlights, halogen daylight running lights and keyless entry, USB and aux sockets and heated mirrors.

 

What’s it go like?

The front wheel drive cutie is powered by a 62kW/122Nm 1.25-litre petrol unit that produces a modest 62kW, and a slightly improved 122Nm.

The test car had the four-speed auto, which would be the pick for the nation’s increasingly congested roads.

But the manual would certainly be sportier and quicker.

However, it’s a car designed for city use, and as such it’s a beauty.

It’s lively enough around town and the suburbs, uses very little petrol (5.8L/100km) and has a composed feel on the road.

It’s also easy as pie to park and visibility in all directions is very good.

In the safety department there are six airbags and Vehicle Stability Management with Electronic Stability Control to ensure you stay upright through the corners.

Also, the car is much stronger than before with double the proportion of Advanced High Strength Steel used in its construction.

The Picanto also gets capped price servicing and roadside help throughout its 7-year warranty period.

What we like?

  • Good looks
  • Good ride
  • Impressive fuel efficiency
  • Decent size boot
  • Up-to-date infotainment package
  • Huge warranty

 

What we don’t?

  • Could do with more pep
  • Dated four-speed auto
  • Nothing else to lose sleep over

 

The bottom line?

More than a New Morning, it’s a new era in its class. Love it.

KIa Picanto, priced from $14.190
  • 9/10
    Looks - 9.0/10
  • 7/10
    Performance - 7.0/10
  • 8/10
    Safety - 8.0/10
  • 9/10
    Thirst - 9.0/10
  • 8/10
    Practicality - 8.0/10
  • 7/10
    Comfort - 7.0/10
  • 7/10
    Tech - 7.0/10
  • 9/10
    Value - 9.0/10
8/10

Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.