Kia is seriously considering getting into the lowest cost segment of the Australian car market with a cute little five-door hatchback called Picanto.
A so-called micro car, Kia Picanto would come to us with a probable price tag of $11,990 to $12,990 plus on-road costs. It would compete with the likes of the Holden Barina Spark, Mitsubishi Mirage and Suzuki Alto (soon to be replaced by a new model called Suzuki Celerio).
Picanto has been around for four years on many other markets, but Kia's chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, likes the look of the recently face-lifted model and is seriously considering it for Australia. On the other hand, he tells us he may wait until the all-new Picanto is launched in the first half of 2016. So the plans are still fluid.
This is the sort of pretty little car that would sell on its shape alone
Kia styling has improved out of sight in the last few years and the latest Picanto carries the signature 'Schreyer' grille, named for the German stylist who penned it. This is the sort of pretty little car that would sell on its shape alone. A range of bright colours would suit it nicely, hopefully Kia would see it that way and put a bit of life back into the Australian street scene that's looking decidedly drab and grey (literally) at the moment.
Overseas Picantos are powered by either a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine or a 1.2-litre four-cylinder. If/when the Picanto comes downunder it's likely both powerplants would be on offer.
Transmission choices are five-speed manual and four-speed automatic, but there has to be a good chance these would be raised to six-speed units when the 2016 Picanto is launched.
Kia Picanto is also sold overseas as a three-door door hatch, at an even lower price than the five-door, but Australian buyers have shown a distinct lack of interest in passenger cars without back doors in recent years. So it's likely only the five-door will make it here.
When the big boys battle the buyers are the winners
It's known that Hyundai Australia has been considering its micro car, the i10 hatch, for some time. Hyundai controls Kia these days and the Picanto and i10 share quite a few out of sight components.
It would be interesting to see the two very ambitious Korean companies at it hammer and tongs. As is always the way when the big boys battle the buyers are the winners. Keep an eye out for a possible stoush between these micro models.