Kia Picanto gets another facelift this year

Kia Picanto gets another facelift this year

Australia’s cheapest new car is sure to be in showrooms for now, with a second facelift due later this year – and a starting price set to stay under $20,000.

the Kia Picanto city hatch – Australia’s cheapest new car – is set to receive another facelift within the next 12 months, giving it a lifeline until mid-decade.

The current Kia Picanto was launched in 2017 and received its planned mid-life facelift in 2020 – meaning it’s due for an all-new generation in 2023, based on the six-year lifecycles for Kia passenger cars.

Instead, it’s set to get another facelift, set to hit Australian showrooms in the second half of 2023 – subject to further delays.

As competing city cars increase in price with new technology or stiffer safety structures, Kia has committed to keeping the Picanto’s base prices below $20,000 “for as long as possible.”

Kia’s decision not to invest in a new model for now comes as city car sales are declining worldwide and strict emissions regulations in its main market of Europe, due in 2025, threaten the future of affordable, hatchback, petrol-powered compact hatchbacks.

The South Korean plant, which makes the Kia Picanto for Australia, built about 120,000 examples in the first 10 months of 2022 – up from 165,000 and 177,000 in the same periods in 2019 and 2017, respectively.

It’s unclear if a new Kia Picanto is in development after this year’s second facelift – and if it will be petrol or electric powered.

However, this year’s facelift means a new model isn’t due until 2026 – by which time it could switch to electric power as new 2025 emissions regulations in Europe are set to make affordable petrol city cars impossible, according to automakers.

Kia Australia has made a commitment to keeping passenger cars in its showrooms, despite the booming popularity of its SUVs.

“We are pleased that the Picanto, Rio and Cerato are still running as well as they are,” said Damien Meredith, Kia Australia Chief Operating Officer drive.

“While we’re all talking about it and rejoicing about it [electric vehicles]there’s still a segment of people who buy small petrol passenger cars and that’s a fact in Australia so we think it’s going to stay that way for a while.

“From a long-term plan perspective, some of these cars are in this long-term plan, so there’s still a pulse with small passenger cars,” said Mr Meredith.

Moves The question to Mr Meredith related to the Picanto, Rio and Cerato – so his comments suggest that one of those three cars could be discontinued.

A new Kia Cerato – a Toyota Corolla-sized hatchback – is believed to be in development, but the future of the Kia Rio extends beyond the current model as it won’t be sold in as many global markets.

Meanwhile, Mr Meredith said Kia Australia intends to keep budget cars under $20,000 “as long as possible”.

However, the board of directors timely acknowledged that it will no longer be possible to sell a $20,000 new car – given rising inflation and manufacturing costs, stricter safety standards and the cost of new technologies.

“With variables beyond our control (such as) global inflation, manufacturing costs, supply and so on, it’s becoming increasingly difficult not only for us but for any manufacturer to have vehicles below that $20,000 mark ‘ said Mr Meredith drive.

“We built our strength on that. We chose a strategy a few years ago where we didn’t phase out cars and it has paid off tremendously for us and I think it will continue to do so for a while.

“Of course we look at the market very closely, and small passengers [cars] falling faster than we thought. What we thought was an 8 percent year-over-year decline, [has] went into double-digit declines over the past two years.

“That has … a lot to do with supply, but there’s still an appetite for these cars. So we’ll be juggling the brand to hopefully deliver both new excitements [electric vehicle] Models and the old but required passenger cars in Australia.”

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017 when he launched his own website Redline. He worked for Drive in 2018 before joining CarAdvice in 2019 and becoming a regular contributor to the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from leafing through car magazines at a young age to growing up with performance vehicles in a car loving family.

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