|Could Kia find enough buyers in Canada to make the Picanto city car a success? (Photo: Kia)
Kia has just released photos of its third-generation Picanto, a stylish little runabout that boasts a 15-mm longer wheelbase than its predecessor at 2,400 mm, and wheels that have been pushed farther out towards each corner for “a more confident appearance,” says Kia. Along with more sculpted bodywork the new Picanto’s exterior colour palette will be even more
|The Picanto certainly looks good enough to attract small car fans. (Photo: Kia)
The Picanto’s redesigned interior will include high-tech comfort, convenience and safety features arrayed within “a modern and refined new cabin design,” adds Kia. Specifically, its instrument panel will house a new “floating” colour touchscreen infotainment display featuring “the latest in-car technology.” In concert with the aforementioned exterior colour options, the tiny Kia will offer buyers greater opportunity for personalization, with a greater range of upholstery, trim designs and colours.
The longer wheelbase allows for more passenger- and cargo-space than before, not to
|Attractively styled interior appears to punch way above its weight. (Photo: Kia)
To put it into perspective, the global A-segment is filled with smaller vehicles than our regular subcompact range, which makes Kia’s Rio one size larger than the Picanto. It’s similarly proportioned to the little Micra that does very well for Nissan Canada, a Japanese brand known for taking risks in our market due to slower sales than Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai.
Of note, the Rio was Canada’s second-most popular car in calendar year 2015, next to its platform-sharing Hyundai Accent cousin that came in first by a long shot
|Available top-tier infotainment with Bluetooth wireless streaming is critical in the entry class. (Photo: Kia)
To help you appreciate how well city cars like the Picanto can do in Canada, the Nissan Micra (which isn’t available in the U.S.) slowed in volume through 2016 yet still
|The Nissan Micra is the current leader of Canada’s sub-subcompact city car pack. (Photo: Nissan)|
|Mitsubishi’s Mirage offers good value and great fuel economy. (Photo: Mitsubishi)|
The smaller Picanto is plenty stylish and enjoys mostly positive reviews in the markets it sells into, so it stands a better than average chance of being accepted by Canadians. Kia might also want to consider the Picanto for expanding its U.S. sales, especially when factoring in that the Korean brand has been there for longer than Canada and therefore benefits from better brand recognition. Additionally the relevance of the tiny Chevy Spark should be considered, which sells much stronger per capita south of the 49th
|The Chevy Spark does fairly well in Canada, but has been growing stronger in the U.S. each year, showing there’s opportunity for small city cars south of the 49th too. (Photo: Chevrolet)|
As it stands Kia Canada has not shared any plans to import the new 2017 Picanto (it would be a 2018 if released here) when it arrives in global markets sometime in the third quarter of this year, but a prolonged expected recession, which could result in Canadian consumers with less disposable income, might make for a good business case.
Details about the new model are limited, but auto writers in England, where the current model sells for less than £8,500 (about $14,000 CAD), and all cars are priced much higher than equivalent models sold here, expect it to get heavily updated
|The Hyundai i10, refreshed for 2017, shares the Picantos underpinnings. (Photo: Hyundai)|
|Could Toyota follow suit by bringing its Aygo city car here? (Photo: Toyota)|
The current Picanto’s price in mind, if sold here it would need to target the Nissan Micra’s entry price of $9,988 with a stripped down base model featuring steel wheels with covers, no body-colour door handles or side mirror caps, rear drum brakes, a manual transmission, no remote powered locks, roll-up windows, no steering wheel controls, no cruise control, manual HVAC without air conditioning, no Bluetooth phone connectivity (although Kia may want to throw that in to differentiate it from the Micra and make it more attractive to younger buyers), a simple
|Honda’s Brio does very well in other markets. (Photo: Honda)|
For instance, the 2017 Micra SV sells for $13,998 and includes most of the features just noted, while the sportiest SR has an MSRP of $16,138 and upgrades the car to include 16-inch alloys, unique headlamps and taillights, fog lamps, extended side sills and a rear rooftop spoiler, chrome exterior trim, a USB port for interfacing smartphones, a four-speaker colour-display audio system with a rearview monitor, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, sport cloth upholstery, and more.
|Volkswagen should really bring its stylish Up! to North America. (Photo: VW)|
Most automakers sell small city cars in other markets, with Kia’s parent company Hyundai basing its i10 off the same underpinnings, building it in India (and other markets
|A highly connective infotainment system makes the Chevy Spark a winner with the youth market. (Photo: Chevrolet)|
Of course, others could beat Kia and its Picanto to fill the needs of North America’s growing A-segment market, with Toyota’s global five-door Agya/Wigo hatchback (based on the Daihatsu Ayla) a much better choice than its now departed Scion iQ, the Honda Brio a particularly eye-catching hatchback with an all-glass liftgate (not to mention, Honda’s stylish City subcompact four-door sedan would likely sell better than the Fit in the U.S.), while Ford’s funky Ka has long been popular in Europe and elsewhere. Volkswagen has also talked about bringing its Up! (exclamation mark intentional) to North America, a stylish little city car that would create a lot of buzz in the entire segment.
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