Kia has finally decided to bring its little Picanto to Australia, something it has been considering for the last four years or so. The fact that the so-called micro-car segment is pretty small probably weighed on the decision, but it seems as though the sales success of the Mitsubishi Mirage may have prodded Kia into the decision.

Mirage sells almost half of all cars in this class, competing against the Holden Barina Spark, the recently facelifted Nissan Micra and the all-new Suzuki Celerio (nee Suzuki Alto).

Adding further interest to Kia’s decision is the statement that it will bring in only the topline Picanto. Normally the price leaders come in with rather basic equipment levels, only two passenger doors and a manual transmission. Typically with a starting tag of $12,990 or $13,990.

Kia Australia isn’t releasing full details of the Picanto but does say the list will start at $14,990, whether this is on-road or dealer and government charges have to be added is still an unknown.

Picanto is sold with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission in other markets, but Kia has hinted it may come to Australia only with the automatic.

If all the boxes are ticked and the Picanto does come here with a high level of equipment, four passenger doors and automatic – all for $14,990 driveway it will certainly create a stir amongst buyers in that segment. Particularly those who otherwise may be looking at a used car.


Kia Picanto’s tall styling works particularly well after a recent facelift. The boxy shape looks to offer plenty of interior space, indeed European reviews say it can carry four adults in comfort. Euro and Aussie opinions often differ when it comes to back seat room, though.

Kia Picanto is powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine in some markets, but only the 1.2-litre will be coming to Australia.


With only 64 kilowatts of power and 123 Newton metres of torque don’t expect the car to be a ball of fire. On the plus side the 3.6-metre long hatchback weighs in at a lightweight 960 kilograms so even with an old style four-speed auto it may be livelier than expected.

Kia Australia is being coy on its timing as well, saying it probably won’t be here till the first quarter of next year. That makes sense as cars introduced late in any year immediately suffer a drop in resale value when the new year ticks over.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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