Perky Picanto Earns It’s GT Badge
Turbo power brings miles of smiles
– Baby Kia gets a dose of attitude
– Bespoke performance tune proves you can have fun for less
Kia Picanto _ the car that has defied an army of naysayers in a market most said didn’t want it and would not accept it.
In almost three years in the Australian market Picanto has not only survived, it has thrived _ and in the process has rescued a segment of the market that was destined for extinction.
“We were warned that trying to launch a micro car into Australia was a fruitless exercise and doomed to failure,” Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer Damien Meredith said. “The segment was shrinking fast with only a handful of cars being sold.
“Three years on and we are very happy with the way the Picanto has found a comfortable niche at the entry-level of the market.“With that in mind it seemed like the right time to give an opportunity to a sporty version of the car, a version for which there has been a constant undercurrent of demand.”
That car is the three-cylinder 1.0-litre Turbo GDi, featuring all the great bits of the standard Picanto but with an attitude and athletic ability destined to make friends and lots of smiles.
With 74kW and 172Nm channeling through the front wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox, Kia’s smallest car promises an engaging drive for the young and young-at-heart.
To add to that drive experience, the Picanto GT has been suspension tuned for Australia by Kia Motors Australia’s in-house ride and handling team.
The ride and handling team were able to build off the basic Picanto’s Macpherson front strut and u-shaped rear torsion beam architecture to improve already impressive dynamics.
Through a more aggressive tune for the shock absorbers and a stiffer spring rate the team was able to provide greater body control with better road feedback and improved ride comfort.
Changes to the steering mapping give a quicker response and enhanced stability when under load.
The addition of a lower profile 195/45 R 16 tyre to the 16-inch alloys improve both grip and predictability when pushing towards the limit.
At the heart of the Picanto GT’s character is the Kia in-house 1.0-litre T-GDi engine. The combination of turbocharging and direct injection give the little engine exceptional power (74kW) and torque (171Nm) from only three cylinders and a cubic capacity of just 998cc. The T-GDi unit sprays a fine mist of fuel directly into the cylinders through a high-pressure (up to 200 bar) injection system, resulting in highly efficient combustion. Direct injection with turbocharging also helps to boost low-speed response and drivability.
The key targets were instantaneous response, high combustion efficiency and exemplary torque across a wide portion of the rev band. The 1.0-litre 12-valve T-GDi engine develops its 74Kw at 4500rpm and 171Nm of torque continuously from 1500rpm to 4000rpm, and features a number of innovative technical solutions.
There are laser-drilled injectors with six holes laid out in a pyramid shape so that the fine mist of fuel is spread evenly throughout the cylinders. A straight air intake port ends in a sharp air intake throat, reducing air resistance at all stages of the process. This improves cylinder tumble flow for faster, more efficient combustion while suppressing engine knocking.
There is a single-scroll turbocharger paired with an electric wastegate motor. This improves turbocharger performance while scavenging clean air for the engine to re-use for combustion. At the same time, it allows the wastegate to open to improve the flow of spent exhaust gases.
It is an innovative system which allows higher low-end torque, more immediate response at any throttle opening and improved fuel economy at high engine loads.
The engine is fitted with an integrated exhaust manifold in a one-piece casting, improving sealing, reducing weight and lowering exhaust gas temperatures. Lower temperatures result in cleaner emissions by allowing the catalytic converter to operate more effectively.
Engine temperatures are closely regulated by a dual-thermostat split cooling system, which allows the block and cylinder heads to be cooled independently. The main thermostat controls the flow of coolant to the cylinder heads above 88º C to reduce knocking, while the engine block thermostat shuts off coolant flow above 105º C to reduce friction and improve efficiency.
There is continuously variable valve timing on both the inlet and exhaust sides, electronic throttle control and light, low-friction moving parts. The crankshaft is offset from the centre-line to aid smoothness.
As a result of these detailed engineering measures the T-GDi engine exhibits minimal throttle lag – the delay between the driver pressing the accelerator and the turbocharger delivering boost. The turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold.
For added durability, the cylinder block has been heat-treated and the crankshaft, pistons and connecting rods have been strengthened.
The efficiency of the engine is highlighted by the combined cycle fuel efficiency of 4.8 litres per 100km with an urban cycle return of 6.2l/100km and an extra-urban number of 4.0l/100km.
The GT shares all the considerable benefits of the current generation Picanto, including the ultra-stiff body shell, composed of 44 per cent advanced high-strength steels, providing beneficial effects beyond handling and comfort. It provides a greater barrier against injury in the event of an accident.
The chassis has carefully designed longitudinal and lateral load paths and greater torsional and bending rigidity than the previous model. The new, stronger steel has been used to strengthen the floor pan, roof rails and engine bay, as well as the A- and B-pillars, creating a rigid core structure.
The extensive safety kit includes AEB, six SRS airbags, ABS, ESC, Hill Assist Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Torque Vectoring Brake Based, Forward Collision Warning and Straight Line Stability.
Comfort and convenience features in the Picanto GT are also extensive with Bluetooth connectivity, four-speaker audio system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, air-conditioning, driver seat height adjustment, power windows front and rear with auto-up on driver’s window.
The Picanto GT will be distinguishable by contrast body accents, twin exhaust, a body kit and GT badge. It will be available in Clear White and premium colours Titanium Silver, Aurora Black and Signal Red.
Picanto GT 5-speed manual $17,990 drive away