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2021 Kia Picanto detailed: 8-inch touchscreen, updated styling

John Law

Kia’s smallest car is due for some upgrades in late 2020 when the Picanto GT and GT-Line variants get exterior nip-and-tucks and upgraded interior technology that Kia claims is a first in this segment.

It’s not a wholesale re-design, but the updated Picanto looks notably fresher, in upper-trim models especially.

Conditions in Australia mean that the Picanto is rather free of competition, with no more Volkswagen Up! here to offer a premium competitor, nor Suzuki Celerio to offer a similarly priced rival. The Kia now has to deal with upmarket, upsized cars like the Mazda 2 and Volkswagen Polo.

2021 Kia Picanto - 5
Biggest in-class with an 8-inch touchscreen.

That means infotainment needs to be on par. Thankfully there’s an all-new 8-inch tablet-style touchscreen, wireless smartphone connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto bolstering the connectivity levels in the Picanto.

Since we last drove one in 2017, the Picanto’s interior looks to have come upmarket, too, borrowing the corporate steering wheel which we rather like, as well as interior design that complements the slightly-odd exterior.

Two engines remain in the Picanto line-up for 2021, both the S and GT-line pack in a diminutive naturally-aspirated 1.25-litre four-cylinder engine with modest outputs of 63kW and 120Nm.

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16-inch wheels and a different bodykit giveaway the GT and GT-Line.

The S, X-line and GT-Line are available with the choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed auto and are accompanied by an impressive claim of 5.8l/100km.

More modern tech is found in the Picanto GT; a one-litre turbocharged three-cylinder ‘kappa’ engine thrums out 73kW of power and a healthy 172Nm of torque through a five-speed manual gearbox.

As for fuel consumption, Kia claims an identical figure of 5.8l/100km for the sportier GT variant. Not bad, we reckon.

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Red seat highlights. Nice.

Exterior wise the changes are minimal, best call the tweaks, but from photos we’ve seen, Kia has done well. Softening out some of the sharper angles surrounding the signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille makes the Picanto more friendly.

Gracing the upper-trim GT-line and sporty GT variants is a set of halogen projector headlights which bulge out slightly from the grille.

To further distinguish the more spendy trims, the GT and GT-Line get a more aggressive body kit, dual exhaust outlets and a set of 16-inch alloy wheels.

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Looks alright to our eyes.

Pricing has not been confirmed for the updated Picanto. The current GT offers excellent value at $18,190 (Often found for $19,190 driveaway), it’s an attractive proposition for those looking for a warm hatchback with proven reliability and a modicum of fun.

Naturally, the Kia ownership experience is well-backed, the Korean manufacturer offering a seven-year unlimited-kilometre warranty, the same period of road-side assist and seven years of capped-price servicing to boot.

Presumably, the upgraded interior and sharper touchscreen should make the Picanto an even sweeter compact car deal when it arrives in the third quarter of 2020.