2023 Kia Picanto: Bold New Look, Turbo Engine Dropped

Kia Picanto receives a stylish refresh with updated features

by Nouman Rasool
2023 Kia Picanto: Bold New Look, Turbo Engine Dropped

Kia is determined to keep its Picanto city car updated with a comprehensive refresh in an automotive landscape increasingly dominated by electric vehicles. As the smallest member of the Kia lineup, the Picanto receives aggressive styling updates and enhanced technological features inside the cabin.

However, one notable change is that the turbocharged engine option is no longer available, with the Picanto exclusively offering naturally aspirated engines. Initially introduced in 2017 and receiving a minor update in 2020, the third-generation Picanto now gets a more significant styling overhaul.

Kia takes a severe approach to refresh Picanto's appearance, incorporating its unique interpretation of the "Opposites United" design language. The highlight of the latest facelift is the new front end, featuring Y-shaped headlights that exude a sportier and more aggressive aura, especially when equipped with optional LED technology.

The bumper has also been redesigned, showcasing a revised chrome-infused tiger-nose grille and a more intricate central intake with gloss black accents and body-colored elements. The profile largely remains unchanged, but at the rear, the Picanto sports new LED taillights that connect below the rear glass.

Additionally, the rear bumper receives sharper styling cues, including smaller reflectors on the faux vents, a more aggressive diffuser, and the absence of visible tailpipes.

Trim Options and Wheel Sizes

As is customary for Kia, the showcased model is the range-topping GT-Line trim, while the base model's design is expected to be more straightforward.

It remains uncertain if the crossover-style X-Line trim will continue to be offered, as the update does not mention it. The base model will come standard with 14-inch wheels, while the GT-Line boasts 16-inch diamond-cut alloys.

The color palette comprises nine options, including four new shades: Signal Red, Smoke Blue, Sporty Blue, and Adventurous Green. Despite its resemblance to a small h*t hatch, the facelifted Picanto's performance is slower than its predecessor because of the discontinuation of the turbocharged 1.0 T-GDi engine, which delivered 99 horsepower (74 kW / 100 PS).

This decision seems peculiar, considering the recently updated Hyundai i10, which shares mechanical underpinnings with the Picanto, retains this engine option. In Europe and Australia, the Picanto is now offered a choice between two naturally aspirated petrol engines: the 1.0 MPi three-cylinder and the 1.2 MPi four-cylinder.

Both machines have undergone enhancements in exhaust gas recirculation, combustion chamber cooling, and optimized intake valve timing, resulting in improved efficiency and lower emissions. Although Kia has not provided specific output figures, the Hyundai i10, a sibling of the Picanto, produces 67 PS (66 HP) with the 1.0-liter engine and 83 horsepower (62 kW / 84 PS) with the 1.2-liter engine.

Power is transmitted to the front wheels via either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 5-speed automated manual transmission. Notably, the Korean-spec Kia Morning model exclusively features a 1.0-liter engine with a different four-speed automatic transmission.

Regarding driving dynamics, the Picanto retains its sporty suspension setup, torque vectoring by braking, and quick steering response, contributing to its reputation as one of the most enjoyable options in the A-segment.

While changes to the interior are less substantial, Kia has made improvements in technology and updated materials. The dashboard layout remains unchanged, but the 8-inch Kia Connect infotainment system now supports over-the-air updates and features dual Bluetooth connections, Online Voice Recognition, Apple Car.

Play, and Android Auto compatibility. The central display retains physical knobs and is complemented by a standard 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster. The base Picanto offers black cloth upholstery, while the GT Line trim upgrades to artificial leather, aligning with Kia's commitment to leather-free interiors.

For further personalization, the Glossy Black, Adventurous Green, and Rich Brown packages are available, with the GT-Line model including the Glossy Black package as standard. Kia also emphasizes the practicality of the Picanto, which can accommodate up to 1,010 liters (35.7 cubic feet) of luggage when the seats are folded.

Safety features have also been improved, with new and updated Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) available, depending on the trim level, along with up to six airbags. Kia expects that the facelifted Picanto will continue the sales success of its predecessor, which has become the brand's best-selling model in several regions.

While it remains uncertain if this will be the last internal combustion engine-powered Picanto, Kia's strategy includes introducing 15 new fully electric models by 2027. In the European A-segment, the Picanto faces competition from rivals such as the Toyota Aygo X, Hyundai i10, Fiat Panda, and Suzuki Ignis. Pricing details will be announced at a later date.