Kia Australia has confirmed the facelifted 2024 Picanto city hatchback will receive added safety equipment when it arrives later this year.

    Speaking with CarExpert at the Australian media launch for the new all-electric EV9 SUV, general manager for product planning at Kia Australia, Roland Rivero, said there won’t be any new variants or options coming to Australia, but we will see a bump in safety equipment.

    “No plans for a wider range. Supply levels are limited, therefore no point in the added complexity. Picanto [update] will see more added features, particularly added safety assist,” Mr Rivero said.

    While Mr Rivero wouldn’t confirm exactly what’s in store, the Korean market offers strong clues.

    In its home region, the new Picanto offers a range of driver assistance systems that haven’t made it Down Under. These include adaptive cruise, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic assists, lane keeping and centring, as well as an enhanced autonomous emergency braking system that detects pedestrians, cyclists, and oncoming vehicles.

    With the death of the larger Rio locally, it’s likely Kia will introduce some, if not all of these features to bridge the gap between the Picanto and the Stonic crossover, and to bolster the hatch’s safety and assistance suite compared to the likes of the top-selling MG 3 – which lacks any active safety tech.

    Currently, the Picanto offers AEB and forward collision warning. Passive cruise control is also standard across the range. Six airbags are standard – but given the car’s age a front-centre airbag isn’t fitted.

    The Kia Picanto wears a four-star ANCAP safety rating based on 2017 Euro NCAP testing. It’s unlikely the added safety tech will affect the rating, as the fifth star wasn’t awarded due to marginal rear passenger head and chest protection in the full-width frontal test, marginal chest protection for the driver in the frontal offset test, and marginal whiplash protection for both front- and rear-seat occupants.

    It’s also unclear whether the new Picanto will offer a version with embedded satellite navigation and Kia Connect services. Further details will be announced in the lead-up to the local launch before the end of 2023.

    Asked recently about local pricing for the Picanto mid-life update in July, Kia Australia chief executive officer Damien Meredith wouldn’t be drawn to indicate any major changes or adjustments – though we expect minor increases.

    “You could probably [expect] with a new product and probably some specification changes there will be a price rise,” said Mr Meredith.

    The current Picanto starts at $16,290 before on-road costs for the S manual, and extends to $20,790 before on-roads for the GT. The base S manual is the cheapest car in Australia, with nationwide drive-away pricing of $18,890 undercutting the cheapest MG 3 by $600.

    Kia Australia has already confirmed the 2024 Picanto range will not include the turbocharged GT, as the 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder and manual drivetrain is being discontinued globally.

    This means the entire facelifted Picanto range will be powered by the 1.25-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, which in its current guise makes 62kW and 122Nm. Both five-speed manual and four-speed auto options are offered locally, but we could see the manuals killed off.

    Mr Rivero told CarExpert in June the Picanto GT currently “makes up about 5.0 per cent of the Picanto mix”, with the GT-Line “still substantially the volume seller in the range”.

    Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest Kia Picanto news.

    MORE: Everything Kia Picanto

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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