By the looks of things, South Korea's auto industry has bounced back well after months of lockdown. There's been a raft of new and updated cars being launched over there, most recently, the Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy and VIP. Now, it's Kia's turn to unveil a new car in the form of the updated Picanto.
Yes, it says Morning on the plate, but that's the Picanto's name in its home market. So what has Kia changed in their small hatchback? It seems like it's mostly cosmetic, but the company also added tech and safety features one would usually find in larger, more expensive cars too.
For 2020, there's a new grill which adds a slat in the middle, as well as a brushed chrome effect surrounding it. Also new is the headlight arrangement, incorporating a different LED daytime running light (DRL) design. The bumper, on the other hand, takes a bit of inspiration from the Seltos with its foglight housing 'connected' to the sizable center air intake.
New wheel options are also part of the 2020 update and, depending on the model, redesigned garnishes and side skirts. Over at the back, the bumper has been redesigned with more creases and lines for a bit of flair. There's also a new LED signature on the tail lights to complement the changes to the front. Kia even added a pair of faux exhaust pipes at the back to make it look like it has dual mufflers.
But where the 2020 Picanto makes strides is in the aspect of safety. Kia claims that they are the first to incorporate more active safety technologies in its class (A-segment). For instance, it's available with rear cross-traffic alert with rear collision prevention. It can also be specified with lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, and forward-collision warning. These features, once reserved for luxury vehicles, have made their way to the humble Picanto.
Other upgrades include a color multi-information display in the instrument cluster, replacing the old 8-bit screen. The touchscreen audio system is now bigger thanks to an 8-inch display. South Korean models get features such as automatic wireless updates for navigation, Bluetooth, and Kakao voice recognition. High-spec models even get leatherette trimmings, seat ventilation, and a sunroof.
Powering the Morning/Picanto is a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder mill. While it sounds like a carryover from the pre-facelift model, Kia says it now packs Smartstream technology. That means it should make it run more efficiently while making more power. The new engine now makes 76 PS, nine more than the current 1.0-liter, and they're claiming it can do 15.7 kilometers per liter under mixed city and highway conditions. That upgraded engine is then paired to a four-speed automatic transmission.
Kia has sold the Picanto here in the country since the first generation in 2004. With that, we can expect this facelifted model to arrive eventually. The launch date isn't certain yet, given the current situation, but there could be a possibility of it arriving in 2021. If it does land here, it will go up against small hatches such as the Toyota Wigo, Honda Brio, and the Suzuki S-Presso.