Kia has confirmed the mid-life updated version of its tiny Picanto hatchback will go on sale locally in the fourth quarter of 2023 with a slimmed-down range and higher prices.

    Kia Australia product planning general manager Roland Rivero told CarExpert the flagship Picanto GT with the 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder and manual transmission is being discontinued globally.

    This likely means the entire facelifted Picanto range will be powered by the 1.25-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine.

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

    “We’re very much committed to Picanto for many more years to come. It’s an important product in our passenger vehicle range,” said Mr Rivero.

    “We’ll still sell as many Picantos we can get our hands on.”

    As previously seen in a recent leaked image and a number of spy photos, the Picanto is set to gain a new face with the mid-life update.

    The largely vertical headlights are similar to those on the new EV9 electric SUV, with spy photos revealing the facelifted Carnival and Sorento are set to get a similar look too.

    The grille area continues to be slim, but now forms a continuous horizontal line. Previously, GT-Line and GT models had a trim piece in the centre of the grille area, with only the base S having an uninterrupted, full-width unit.

    Down back, the tail lights retain a similar shape but feature new graphics, along with a light bar running across the tailgate.

    Inside, the changes are much more subtle. There appears to be a new shifter for the manual transmission, while the analogue instruments have been replaced with a new instrument set-up found in certain Seltos and Sportage variants without the full digital cluster.

    When asked about local pricing for the Picanto mid-life update, Kia Australia chief executive officer Damien Meredith said it hasn’t been discussed at this point in time.

    “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.

    The Picanto will play an even more important role in the Kia range going foward, given the Rio won’t be replaced when the current model is retired.

    It dominates the (admittedly small) micro car segment in Australia as, with the Mitsubishi Mirage retired locally, it now has only one rival: the ageing Fiat 500.

    To the end of May, Kia sold 2598 Picantos against 347 examples of the Fiat 500 and its sportier Abarth spin-offs.

    That put it ahead of the Kia Rio (2414 units), and behind only the MG 3 (7046 sales) if you lump VFACTS’ light and micro car segments together.

    MORE: Everything Kia Picanto

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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