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Following silhouette presentations in some parts of the world, the all-new Kia Picanto, now in its third-generation, was formally shown to the Middle-East and African motoring media as part of an exciting test-drive in Tunis, Tunisia last week. 

The event was held ahead of the city car’s planned staggered launches into the various markets across the region, beginning from the second quarter of the year.
Kia Picanto.

And, though the Picanto has been vastly reengineered and restyled to flaunt an assertive new design and a high-quality, high-tech new cabin, it is retaining the strengths of its predecessor, with a new level of dynamism and performance, enhanced safety and greater value for money.


At the event, Kia Motors Corporation gave an indication of the high value placed on the all-new Picanto when the President, Regional Headquarters, Middle East & Africa, Mr. Soon-Nam Lee,, remarked that the car was strategic to the brand’s target of selling about 3.17 million vehicles globally this year.
Lee explained at a press conference on the eve of the test-drive which featured journalists from about nine countries in the region, including Nigeria, that part of this plan was to ensure that the car, captures a greater share of sales in the A-segment {compact cars} which is among the most popular in almost every part of the world.

Predictably, the all-new Picanto is wearing an eye-catching look that belies its compact nature. 
Watch out for the stylish contours, and the straight lines that run horizontally across the front of the car, emphasizing the tiger-nose grille and angular new wrap-around headlamps.  With the wheelbase extended to 2,400 mm (an increase of 15 mm), the wheels have been pushed further out to the corners for a 25 mm shorter front overhang.

In its most basic form, the Picanto is fitted with 13-inch steel, but customers can also select one of two aluminum alloy wheel designs, ranging from 14- to 15-inches in diameter. The exterior can also be specified with new projection headlamps with LED indicators and LED daytime running lights.

For the first time, Kia will also offer the Picanto in a new GT-Line though there were indications that Kia Motors Nigeria, {which produces and sells Kia vehicles in Nigeria} may not be in a hurry to provide the sporty version in the local market.


Interior:
Inside the new Picanto, Kia designers have created a more modern, refined cabin than the second-generation model, with new materials and layout adding a greater sense of quality for occupants. The predominantly horizontal, wide-looking design adds greater visual width to the interior, highlighting the increased cabin dimensions.
The dashboard layout is now more centrally aligned, with a large floating HMI (human-machine interface) sitting at the heart of the centre console and moving many of the cars controls further up into the drivers line of sight. A satin chrome-effect strip runs across the dashboard for a higher quality ambience.
Customization is key to the appeal of the new Picantos cabin. While black and grey cloth seats are available as standard, buyers can also personalize their new Picanto with one of five optional colour packs, featuring contrast artificial leather upholstery and stitching. 


Packaging:
Despite its on-road footprint remaining the same as that of the outgoing model, the all-new Picanto will offer buyers high levels of packaging efficiency, with maximum versatility resulting from its larger cabin and class-leading boot capacity.
The Picanto meets the increasing trend towards five-door models in the A-segment. Offering maximum practicality, the new model is no larger than the model it replaces, at 1,485 mm in height, 3,595 mm long and 1,595 mm wide. The new platform boasts a longer wheelbase and longer rear overhang, however, freeing up more space in the cabin and boot (the front overhang is reduced by 25 mm, to 675 mm).
Inside, the new Picanto provides occupants with more leg- and head-room than best-selling rivals in the A-segment, while the base of the dashboard has been moved upwards by 15 mm for greater knee and leg space for front passengers.
The new central armrest for front passengers can slide back and forth up to 55 mm  a first in the class  and covers a small storage compartment designed to accommodate a sunglasses case. At the base of the centre console is an open double-shelf tray to store mobile devices and other small items, with new retractable twin cupholders which can fold away to yield more storage space. 

The boot grows from 200 litres to a maximum 255 litres  the most of any car in the class  and is available with a two-step boot floor, which can be raised or lowered by 145 mm to create additional space as required, as well as create an under-floor storage area. The rear seat bench can be folded down with a one-touch lever for maximum ease of use, boosting cargo capacity to 1,010 liters. 60:40 split-folding seat backs are available.
Ride/Handling: All-new Picanto will be replacing an outgoing model that won plaudits for its combination of immediate handling responses and a comfortable ride. To improve on these characteristics in the new model, engineers made a series of modifications to the MacPherson independent suspension by  strut at the front; torsion beam at the rear  to realise greater ride stability and quicker, more enjoyable handling responses.
A new rack for the optional column-mounted motor-driven power steering means the steering ratio has been quickened by 13 percent over the outgoing Picanto,


Engines, transmissions:
The successful 1.0- and 1.25-litre multi-point injection (MPI) petrol engines are carried over from the outgoing Picanto, but with a range of enhancements to improve efficiency and driveability. Both engines are paired with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic transmission, delivering power to the front wheels.

The 1.0-litre MPI engine is the most fuel efficient engine available to Picanto buyers, and provides the entry point into the Picanto range.
The four-cylinder 1.25-litre MPI engine produces peak power of 84 ps, and 122 Nm of torque, and ensures high levels of fuel efficiency to keep running costs low. For its application in the new Picanto, Kia engineers have optimized the valve timing of the engines dual CVVT (continuously-variable valve timing) system, and have also adopted a similar new cooling system and shut-off valve to the 1.0-liter MPI engine. New low-friction coated piston rings also help to reduce cylinder friction for greater efficiency.
Refinement: Refinement has been dramatically improved in the new Picanto, with a range of modifications designed to further isolate the cabin from vibrations and noise from the road, wind and the engine. The result is a car that offers one of the quietest cabins of any A-segment model, both at idle and at a steady cruise.
New refinement measures adopted for the latest Picanto include a new soundproofing panel beneath the dashboard and in the floor of the cabin, while expandable sound-absorbent foam has been applied to lower sections of the A- and B-pillars. Beneath the bonnet reshaped air intake helps to isolate engine noise from the cabin. The structure of the engine mounts has also been revised to counteract engine vibrations. Furthermore, the windscreen wipers have been lowered by 6 mm to reduce the level of wind roar generated at the base of the windscreen.
As a result of these upgrades, the new Picanto produces a quietest-in-class 39 dB of noise at idle  3 dB less than the current A-segment leader  and 68 dB at a steady cruise.

Technology: Buyers of the new Kia Picanto will have access to some of the most advanced infotainment and convenience technologies available in the A-segment, while still enjoying the same high value for money expected of a Kia vehicle.
The large, floating HMI at the center of the dashboard houses a 3.8-inch monochrome TFT LCD audio system, with clear buttons to control the systems functions. Buyers can also specify an optional 7.0-inch full-color touchscreen infotainment offering a Bluetooth connection to smartphones to play music on the go. The 7.0-inch touchscreen HMI supports Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ for full smartphone integration. Auxiliary and USB ports are located at the base of the center console, ensuring drivers can play music directly from a smartphone or MP3 player, and keep mobile devices charged on the move.
Depending on specification, an optional rear-view parking assist system and a rear-view parking camera are also on offer to buyers who want an additional level of assurance when completing parking maneuvers.
Depending on market, other optional technologies to improve comfort and convenience include climate control air conditioning, cruise control, electrically-folding door mirrors, a sunroof and keyless entry and start.
Safety: The new Picanto was presented to the journalists as the safest A-segment car Kia has ever made, featuring double the proportion of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) compared to the outgoing model and a selection of active safety technologies. With a stronger body than ever before, 44 percent of the bodyshell is cast in AHSS (up from 22%), Enhancing this is supported by two front and four front side and curtain airbags. Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) ensures stability under braking and cornering, detecting a loss in traction and using ESC to help the driver keep the car on course. Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) are also available.
There were hints at Kia Motors Nigeria head office {Dana House} in Isolo, Lagos, over the weekend that it might take a few more months before the all-new Picanto will be launched into the local market.
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