The little engine that could

The Kia Picanto has been in our hearts for 21 years! That’s right, this multi-generational go-getter took the world by storm in 2003. Although, I think the main storm hit in 2011 with Peter Schreyer’s handy work on the design. You’ll know him from his epic design of the third generation Sportage. Kia has given it 3rd gen Picanto a bit of an update, so let’s see what this fun city car has to offer.

Can you believe that 100 000 Picantos have been sold in South Africa? I can. I see them everywhere. And as Kia even points out, it has no age restriction. It is not a car soley for the first-time car buyers. In fact, the biggest customer base sits at between 26 and 32-years old. The next group the Picanto is popular with is the 50-plus age group.

Ok, but back to this update. The front end has been redesigned with its sporty new bumper, grille and headlights. The “Star Map” signature lighting design is all very much the rage at Kia. It has a redesigned tail gate and that awesome-looking horizontal bar connecting the lights. I do love this!

There has been a rather subtle change inside, why fix what ain’t broke I guess. The eight-inch infotainment screen has been revised, but the cabin as a whole, retains that amazing tactile quality that gives the Picanto that almost premium feel.


There has been no change to the engine line up, we still get the 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre pots, mated either to a five-speed manual or four-speed auto. But the model line up has changed, even the names have been changed. Gone are the cutesy Start, Street and Style names, and in their place, are the names we are now familiar with from the other Kia models, such as LX, EX and EX+. Gone is the X-Line model, which makes the EX+ the top of the range.

For context, the LX is not the same as what the Start was. In fact, it is an enhanced version of the Street model. And the EX is a higher spec than the Style. Basically, the Picanto now offers even more value for money. If that was even possible. To give you an idea of what I mean, so that I don’t get accused (again) of being sponsored by Kia, just take a look…

The LX, which is the “entry-level” model, is priced at R260 995. It comes standard with dual front airbags, Isofix, ABS, keyless entry, leather-clad steering wheel and gear shifter, all-round electric windows with auto up and down on driver’s window, electric heated side mirrors, remote central locking, alarm and immobiliser, air-conditioning, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reverse camera, bluetooth with voice recognition, multi-function steering wheel and USB ports. Do you see what I mean? It is full to the brim!

For more info you will need to wait for my video review πŸ™‚


The Kia Picanto comes standard with Kia’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and a two-year/30 000 km service plan.

  • Kia Picanto 1.0 LX 5MT – R260 995
  • Kia Picanto 1.0 LX 4AT – R278 995
  • Kia Picanto 1.2 EX 5MT – R284 995
  • Kia Picanto 1.2 EX 4AT – R302 995
  • Kia Picanto 1.2 EX+ 5MT – R307 995
  • Kia Picanto 1.2 EX+ 4AT – R325 995

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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