New Kia Picanto 2023 facelift unveiled

The new Kia Picanto has been revealed, featuring bold new exterior in keeping with flagship Kia EV9 electric SUV

  • Design mirrors Kia EV9 electric SUV
  • More safety tech
  • Smaller range of petrol engines

The Kia Picanto has some life left in it still, with the South Korean brand giving it another makeover to keep it fresh in the dwindling city car segment. 

While many manufacturers have withdrawn their smallest cars in favour of SUVs and crossovers, the Kia Picanto facelift has been given a look inspired by the brand’s flagship Kia EV9 electric SUV. The city car will not get any electrification, however, instead featuring a streamlined petrol engine range.

Kia Picanto facelift exterior design

We got an exclusive opportunity to see the facelifted Kia Picanto in the metal in GT-Line guise ahead of its full reveal, and one of the first things that struck us was the car’s new exterior, which had been more heavily updated than a usual facelift, taking distinct cues from the brand’s latest ‘Opposites United’ design language as seen on the flagship EV9, such as the front and rear light signature and an overall squarer shape.

Exterior colours will also mirror those offered on the EV9, with earthy colours such as the Adventurous Green hero colour, which the brand says contrast with the car’s futuristic shapes as part of the ‘Opposites United’ ethos.

The new Picanto gets on-trend touches, such as full width front and rear light bars. These are unique to the GT-Line trim; non GT-Line cars will get black trim pieces instead. With the new Picanto, the brand is leaning towards styling cues reminiscent of modern EVs, despite the fact that the Picanto will not be available with an electric powertrain.

The exhaust tips are hidden, for example, contrasting with the current GT-Line’s exposed dual tips. The eye-catching pops of red on the sportier flagship version of the outgoing Picanto have been replaced with subtler black trim pieces, too. 

As well as changes to the body, the new Picanto gets a few wheel options, the GT-Line car we saw gets alloys with squared-off, angular elements that are new to the lineup.

We were surprised to learn that the new Picanto has the same overall dimensions as the outgoing Picanto, as its new look gives the illusion of a larger car with greater road-presence. When we mentioned this to product expert Andrea De Arcangelis, he said this was a concerted effort by the brand to attract buyers who would have considered the larger, soon-to-be-discontinued Kia Rio

It’s also a technique other manufacturers have used to adapt their city cars to a market with SUV-inclined tastes, such as the Toyota Aygo X crossover. The difference here is that the Picanto doesn’t get the higher ride height and slightly ballooned dimensions as seen on the Aygo X.

Kia Picanto facelift interior

On the inside, the Picanto’s redesign is less drastic, although new interior colour options, such as Adventurous Green – which mirrors the new hero exterior colour – and Rich Brown, will be offered. 

All Picantos will now also get a 4.2-inch digital gauge cluster and there’s also an eight-inch touch-operated infotainment screen compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. The system will be capable of over-the-air updates to keep it fresh.

USB charging ports including newer USB-C outlets, will also feature in the front and rear, and wireless smartphone charging will be offered.

A generous list of safety features are included, including a speed limiter (now a requirement for all cars in the UK) and a driving attention monitoring system. The Forward Collision System gets an update that means it now gets a junction collision function, which stops drivers turning into the path of oncoming traffic.

UK trim levels are yet to be confirmed, but it’s rumoured the outgoing ‘1’ and X-Line models will be discontinued. Kia is keen to keep things as simple as possible, so we can expect 2, 3, and GT-Line trims as well as a possible GT-Line S trim that will be exclusive to the UK market.

Kia Picanto powertrains

When asked, Product Expert Andrea De Arcangelis mentioned that Kia did explore the possibility of electrification, but the brand concluded this would reduce boot space – plus the higher costs associated with incorporating it into the current platform’s design would go against the Picanto’s budget-friendly ethos.

Instead, the 66bhp 1.0-litre engine will be carried over from the outgoing car, while the 99bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged model will be discontinued due to slow sales. A 1.2-litre model looks to be on the cards instead. 

The Picanto will be offered with manual or automatic gearboxes – the latter a so-called automated-manual, which operates a traditional manual gearbox electronically, saving weight and improving efficiency over conventional automatic transmissions.

Official fuel economy figures are yet to be released, but the outgoing model gets an official figure of 58.9mpg with the 1.0-litre engine in manual guise, with the automatic getting up to 54.3mpg – Kia says to expect an improvement on this for the facelifted car. 

Kia has been tight-lipped about when the new Picanto will go on sale, stating that it depends on a number of factors including how long it takes to run out of the outgoing version and what production capacity looks like.

We’d expect the starting cost to increase over the outgoing Picanto 2’s £14,165 price tag, given the likely discontinuation of 1 Grade trim and the extra kit as standard.

When asked whether this would be the last Picanto, Kia’s representative said the future of the small city car hinges greatly on this latest facelift. Whether the nameplate could also make an appearance on an EV or hybrid version in the future also remains to be seen.

If you want to know about the outgoing model, check out our in-depth review of the Kia Picanto...
 

Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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