The little Kia Picanto is getting a rather piquant styling update, inspired by the upcoming EV9.
The updated micro car has been confirmed for a local launch in the second half of 2023.
Photos published on Korean website Autospy reveal a Picanto wearing camouflage but clearly featuring new, vertically-oriented headlights. The refresh suggests a new generation of Kia’s smallest model is still some way away.
The spied example also appears to feature revised tail lights, while funky new wheels give the Picanto more flair.
At the other end of the size scale, Kia’s Carnival and Sorento are also set to adopt similar front-end styling. The Telluride, not sold here, preceded these models in featuring vertical headlights, with the upcoming EV9 electric flagship also adopting these.
The local-spec Picanto hasn’t received additional active safety features like blind-spot assist, lane-keep assist and rear cross-traffic assist that were added to the Korean-market model, called the Morning.
It remains to be seen whether these will come here with this update. The Morning can also be had with luxury features like heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel, unheard of at this end of the market in Australia.
It’s also unconfirmed whether the Picanto will receive any powertrain updates.
It’s currently offered in S and GT-Line guise with a 1.25-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine producing 62kW of power and 122Nm of torque, while the GT uses a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder producing 74kW and 172Nm.
The current Picanto was launched in Australia in 2017, and was Kia’s first entrant in the micro car segment – at least locally.
In 2021, it received a mid-life update. The crossover-inspired X-Line was axed, a new 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone mirroring was added, and the GT-Line and GT received a series of design tweaks.
A new generation of the GT’s 1.0-litre turbo three-pot was also installed, though it didn’t produce any more power or torque.
For 2022, the Picanto then received Kia’s new logo.
The first-generation Picanto entered production in 2003, and was replaced in 2011. We received the second-generation model at the very end of its lifecycle, and it was sold from 2016 to 2017.
The third-generation model may therefore stick around for a few more years yet, now that it’s in line for a second facelift.
It has essentially no direct rivals in Australia, with Mitsubishi discontinuing its Mirage and Hyundai not offering its related i10.
Its closest competition comes in the shape of the similarly small but more expensive Fiat 500, and the larger but similarly priced MG 3. The Picanto opens at $18,890 drive-away, just $100 below the base MG 3.
Kia sold 5196 Picantos in Australia last year, giving it a whopping 81 per cent share of the micro car segment.
But MG sold more than twice as many MG 3s (16,168 sales), giving it a still impressive 38.6 per cent share of the light car segment – more than the second, third and fourth best-selling light cars’ figures combined.
MORE: Everything Kia Picanto