The Kia Picanto facelift for the European market has been revealed. This comes after the debut of the Korean market Morning facelift last month. The current third-generation JA has been around since 2017, so the facelift is right on schedule.

While the domestic market Morning sees consolidation of the pre-facelift car’s standard, GT-Line and X-Line variants into a single Urban model, the Picanto will continue to be available in base, sporty GT-Line and the SUV-inspired X-Line in Europe, where it will go on sale from Q3 2020.

The GT-Line car is similar to the domestic market Urban line in appearance, except for the accent lines on the tiger nose grille, side skirts and rear diffuser rendered in red. The grille surround is now textured, and the chrome lower bar extends into the redesigned headlamps; Kia says that this gives the A-segment hatchback a wider, more stable appearance.

More apparent are the new headlamps, where the projectors are surrounded by four-bulb LED daytime running lights, which is rather Porsche-like. At the back, the Picanto sports new design LED tail lamps and much smaller fog lights on the bumper. Those chrome fake exhaust tips are trying a bit too hard, though.

As for the X-Line, the grille inserts and lower bumper design are different, and the latter features a prominent silver element inspired by the skid plates on 4x4s, with an X-Line logo. The rest of the lower body including the wheel arches have black plastic trim, while the rear bumper gets some expected silver bits for the desired SUV look.

The standard “no line” Picanto (the red car in the gallery below) wears front and rear bumpers that appear similar to the base pre-facelift car, but it does get the new design front and rear lights. Kia touts customisation, with a choice of 10 vibrant paint finishes and two new wheel designs (multi-spoke 14-inch, two-tone 16-inch).

Inside, the Picanto features an 8.0-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen head unit (an inch wider) and a 4.2-inch digital display in the instrument cluster. Depending on trim level and market, the little car’s cabin is offered with black cloth or synthetic leather seats, with a range of new upholstery textures for a “more contemporary, higher quality look and feel”.

There are some funky colour packs such as the Lime Pack, which contrasts a black interior with lime stitching and white seat bolsters, silver metal painted transmission and air vent surrounds, and silver-and-lime accents in the doors. There are also orange, red and green colour packs, with the latter including denim-effect seat upholstery.

The sat-nav infotainment system features Bluetooth multi-connection, enabling users to pair up to two mobile devices at the same time – one for hands-free phone and media use, the other for media use only. The system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Offering Kia Europe’s UVO system, the Picanto gives drivers access to live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, fuel prices, and details of potential on- and off-street parking – including price, location and availability.

The UVO app enables owners to activate a range of functions and features remotely. The Picanto will be one of the first Kia models to offer the brand’s latest “Phase II” UVO Connect telematics features, of which more will be revealed later.

The Picanto facelift is available in Europe with two new Smartstream petrol engines that are more efficient and less polluting than their predecessors – a 100 PS 1.0 litre T-GDi and a 67 PS naturally-aspirated 1.0L. The turbo motor features a more efficient 350 bar high-pressure fuel injection system, while the NA unit replaces multi-point injection with dual-port fuel injection.

Both engines feature improved exhaust gas recirculation lines and optimised intake valve timing for better fuel efficiency. They are also equipped with a new Integrated Thermal Management System (ITMS), which provides more effective combustion chamber cooling. ITMS varies engine cooling characteristics based on the engine’s operating point.

In Korea, the base engine (which is now their sole engine option) is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission, but Europe will get Kia’s new Automated Manual Transmission (AMT).

Something that Europe is no stranger to, the AMT is essentially a five-speed manual gearbox with actuators to automate clutch operation and gear shifts. Using a single dry clutch, the AMT is a cost-effective option for customers who favour the convenience of an auto, without sacrificing the fuel efficiency of a manual, Kia says.

Lastly but not least, safety. Kia’s entry model features several of its latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) features such as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with vehicle and pedestrian detection, Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW) and Lane Following Assist (LFA).

The ADAS systems are in addition to Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), seven airbags and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC). The latter might be a good ally to the AMT on slopes.

In Malaysia, the Picanto has always been a bit of a “premium option” in our budget hatchback market, offering less space than national brand hatchbacks, but with more sophistication and quality. Here’s a throwback Driven episode where we put the JA Picanto up against the then fresh Perodua Myvi and the Proton Iriz.


GALLERY: Korean-market Kia Morning facelift