I am positive our male colleagues felt a wee bit left out at the launch of the 2008 Kia Picanto. The presentation was all about a young girl sending an email to her boyfriend about the new Kia Picanto she is driving whilst on holiday in Cape Town… and the background music …….Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls just wanna have fun’.

A great little car for the girls

Price: From R77 995 To R115 995

If nothing else, Kia Motors South Africa got it right in the eyes of us nine female motoring journalists ……. it is a great little car for us girls! ….. How can it be anything else? ….. especially with a name like Picanto ….. derived from the French word ‘piquant’, meaning ‘spicy’ and ‘Canto’, meaning ‘song’!

Latest Kia Picanto facelift ensures popularity

The Picanto has been one of Kia Motors South Africa’s success stories. Launched in 2004 they sell in the region of 600 of these little cuties a month. The latest face-lift re-affirms this trademark ‘cuteness’ and the new Picanto is sure to maintain its popularity.

Refreshing exterior changes to the new Kia Picanto

The revised front end includes bigger, height-adjustable headlamps with single piece polycarbonate covers that flank the twin chrome bars grille and the company’s distinctive logo. The bonnet and front fenders fit seamlessly to the new light clusters.

The rear of the Picanto has been ‘refreshed’ with restyled tail-lights, mimicking the same circular/semi-circular treatment at the front. The impact-resistant bumpers are now colour-coded on all models and have integral mud flaps.

Kia Picanto range offers a model for everyone

The range offers something for everyone with a base model, LX and EX models as well as ten exciting colours to choose from. The EX models are identifiable by way of front fog lamps, alloy wheels, side indicator repeaters in the exterior mirrors and a body kit including a roof spoiler with integrated high-level brake light.

I know it is very difficult for a man, whether he is a motoring journalist or not, to get excited about a 1-litre car, but believe me, they will change their tune when the petrol price reaches R10 a litre!

All the Picanto derivatives are powered by the proven 1.1-litre SOHC engine that, thanks to its three valves per cylinder layout, provides an excellent blend of sporty performance and outstanding fuel economy. The 48kW at 5500rpm and 98Nm of torque at just 2800rpm ensures that the Picanto has more than enough zest to live up to its name. – So what that its top speed is 152km/h …… our speed limit on the open road is only 120km/h any way!

Fuel efficiency is the advantage of a 1.1-litre engine

It is the fuel consumption numbers that will matter most ….. According to Kia the little car’s consumption figures in a combination of city and long distance driving is 6,2-litres per 100km in the five-speed manual guise. The automatic version does 7,3-litres per 100km, both translating into a useful tank range of about 500km.

Clever design makes for a pleasurable drive

Light cars with a short wheelbase can be at a disadvantage in the ride and handling stakes if not carefully designed, but Kia’s chassis engineers have made the Kia Picanto as pleasurable to drive as it is to look at.

Working with proven MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle combined with the longest possible wheelbase and track widths front and rear, they’ve managed to provide a comfortable ride with assured road manners.

Anti-roll bars and steering assistance

An anti-roll bar, at either end, gives the Picanto the ability to change direction briskly when called upon to do so. In the LX and EX models this is particularly effortless, thanks to speed sensitive hydraulic assistance for the rack and pinion steering.

Storage compartments where you need them most

So many of our cars become an extension of our offices and the Picanto provides the space to manoeuvre in whilst you can put everything within easy reach. The Picanto has been configured with an array of storage solutions. Consumer research helped the interior designers to hone in on what modern car-users need most.

The centre console provides a pair of moulded cup holders and a tray which is equally useful for small change as it is for a cell phone. Then there’s a large ‘double-decker’ glove box and the front doors have a nice size map pockets. In the back is a third cup holder, a multi-function storage bin and back seat pockets for magazines and the like.

Kia Picanto EX has a split rear seat for more space

A 40:60 split rear seat on the EX model allows the luggage compartment to be increased from 157- to 882-litres with the rear seats folded flat.

Comfortable back seats for two adults or three kids

The Picanto’s seats are quite comfortable for such a baby car and the rear has been designed to accommodate three children or two adults with ease. Let’s not fool ourselves – if you buy a baby car like this you cannot expect to have the legroom of a huge 4×4 or luxury sedan – the legroom in the rear is not great, but ample for a baby car.

Updated interior features in the new Kia Picanto

Cabin fitments have been updated and there is new upholstery, a new instrument cluster, new gear knob and revised secondary controls. The instrumentation now includes dual trip meters and a ‘door-ajar’ warning light. The Picanto also comes standard with remote central locking and an immobilizer with an encoded transponder key which makes it impossible to start the car without the key.

Great standard features from the LX model upwards

Both the LX and EX models sport an air-conditioning system and electric front windows. The LX model has a driver airbag whilst the EX boasts dual airbags, pre-tensioning seatbelts and ABS with EBD. The EX models come standard with electrically adjusted mirrors as well as electric rear windows.

When it comes to sound systems Kia offers a MP3 compatible sound system with Auxiliary socket as a dealer-fitted option. – Radio and Ipod sockets are available on the LX and EX as an option.

Remarkable safety features for a baby car

When it comes to safety features, all Picanto models are equipped with ventilated front brake discs and boast excellent crash protection thanks to features such as front and rear crumple zones which deform in a controlled manner. In addition, the engine and gearbox are designed to drop below the passenger compartment in a major frontal impact.

Kia Picanto offers great after-sales value too

The new Picanto’s recommended retail prices are R77 995 for the manual base model and R86 995 should you prefer an automatic transmission. The LX models are R89 995 (manual) and R99 995 (auto) whilst the flagship models, the EX retail at R105 995 (manual) and R115 995 (auto).

Adding tremendous value, the pricing includes Kia’s 5-year/100 000km warranty, incorporating 3-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance. An additional service plan of 2-years/45 000km can be purchased for R3089,40. Servicing is required at 15 000km intervals or every 12 months, whichever occurs first on all models.