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Kia Picanto 2023: Australia’s cheapest new car is safe to stay on sale long-term


The smallest car in Kia’s Australian lineup still sells relatively strongly, and the brand has confirmed the Picanto is present in long-term product plans

Australia’s cheapest new car, the Kia Picanto, will remain on sale despite its manufacturer’s push into increasingly premium territory in this country.

The Picanto is a small hatchback that, priced from $15,990 before on-road costs, holds the title of the most affordable new car on sale in Australia. It’s also a vehicle that has consistently rated highly in Chasing Cars testing.

Kia Picanto GT 2022 top down by the beach
The Kia Picanto is famously cheap and cheerful to drive

Speaking with Chasing Cars about the South Korean brand’s recent upmarket moves, Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith said the Picanto would be retained long-term.

“We’ve got the Picanto for quite a long time,” Meredith confirmed. “It’s in our long-range plan. It’s not going to say goodbye.”

The shoring up of support for the Picanto’s role in the Kia Australia range comes as the brand prepares to confirm its first $100,000 car in the fully-electric EV6 GT performance car.

Kia EV6 GT 2023 front driving
The Kia EV6 GT is expected to cost around five times what the Picanto does

Kia’s move to confirm that it will retain the Picanto in Australian showrooms for at least the next few years goes against a general trend in the market that has seen car manufacturers eliminate cheaper models.

The Picanto still sells strongly in Australia. Until the end of November, Kia had sold 4708 examples of the hatchback locally, compared to 6110 units in the same period last year.

Kia’s seventh-best selling car locally, the Picanto has this year outsold the larger Rio (4303 sales), Stinger sports sedan (2161), the EV/hybrid Niro (1369), and the supply-constrained EV6 (533).

The past few years has seen a number of rivals leave the small car segment or become considerably more expensive

In recent years, well-known entry-level cars like the Hyundai Accent and Ford Fiesta have disappeared from Australia with their manufacturers citing increased safety compliance costs and a shift in buyer preferences towards SUVs.

However, the SUVs that have tended to replace affordable starter-pack new cars are, as a rule, considerably more expensive than the hatchback they supersede. 

In future, the role of the Picanto and Rio hatchbacks in the Kia Australia range could come under threat from the greater sales success of the brand’s Stonic light SUV, of which 8119 units have been sold so far in 2022.

Kia Picanto GT rear 3/4 wide mt panorama
Chasing Cars is running a Picanto GT hatch as a long term test car

Other light hatchbacks such as the Toyota Yaris, Mazda 2 and Volkswagen Polo have been retained for Australia, but have copped significant price increases in recent years.

Measuring just 3595mm in length, the pint-sized ‘micro hatch’ Picanto is more comparable to the tiny Volkswagen Up that was sold in Australia until 2014.

Chasing Cars is currently running the feisty, turbocharged Picanto GT model ($20,490, $22,490 driveaway) as a long-term test car, and you can read reporter Zak Adkins’ commentary on that car here.

Kia Picanto 2023: Australian pricing

All prices displayed are national driveaway prices correct at the time of writing (December 2022).

  • S manual: $18,490
  • S automatic: $19,490
  • GT-Line manual: $19,990
  • GT-Line automatic: $20,990
  • GT manual: $22,490