Kia has confirmed its minor mid-life update version Picanto The hatchback will go on sale locally in the fourth quarter of 2023 with a lower range and higher price.
Kia Australia product planning general manager Roland Rivero told Car Expert The flagship Picanto GT with a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder and manual transmission is being discontinued worldwide.
This likely means that the entire facelifted Picanto range will be powered by a 1.25 liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine.
Mr Rivero added the Picanto GT currently “makes up around five per cent of the Picanto mix”, with the GT-Line “still the bulk of the volume seller in the Picanto range”.
“We are very committed to the Picanto for years to come. It is an important product in our range of passenger vehicles,” said Mr Rivero.
“We’re still going to sell as many Picantos as we can get.”
As previously seen in recent leaked images and some spy photos, the Picanto is set to get a new look with a mid-life update.
Most of the vertical lights are similar to those on the new EV9 electric SUV, with spy shots revealing the facelifted Carnival and Sorento are set to get a similar look as well.
The grille area continues to thin, but now forms a continuous horizontal line. Previously, the GT-Line and GT models had a cutout in the center of the grille area, with only the base S having a full-width unit without interruption.
At the rear, the taillights retain the same shape but feature new graphics, along with a light bar that crosses the tailgate.
Inside, the changes are much more subtle. There appears to be a new shifter for the manual transmission, while the analog instruments have been replaced with a new instrument set-up found in certain Seltos and Sportage variants without a full digital cluster.
When asked about local pricing for the Picanto’s mid-life update, Kia Australia chief executive officer Damien Meredith said it had not been discussed at the moment.
“You might be able to [expect] with new products and maybe some specification changes there will be a price increase,” said Mr Meredith.
The current Picanto starts at $16,290 before on-road costs for the manual S, and extends to $20,790 before on-road for the GT.
The base manual S is the cheapest car in Australia, with a nationwide drive-away price of $18,890 undercutting the cheapest MG 3 by $600.
The Picanto will play a more important role in the Kia range going forward, as the Rio will not be replaced when the current model is retired.
It dominates the (admittedly small) microcar segment in Australia because, with the Mitsubishi Mirage retired locally, it now has only one competitor: the aging Fiat 500.
Until the end of May, Kia sold 2598 Picantos compared to 347 examples of the Fiat 500 and the sportier spin-off Abarth.
That puts it ahead of the Kia Rio (2414 units), and behind only the MG 3 (7046 sales) if you combine the VFACTS light car and micro car segments together.
MORE: Everything Kia Picanto