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Korean car company Kia rides high with style and substance

Your Life

Korean car company Kia rides high with style and substance

These days as the world moves toward all-electric vehicles BRUCE MCMAHON reports on one manufacturer that’s keeping up with the engine pace.

There are already order queues for the newest electric Kia on the market, the handsome and very fast EV6. There’s already talk of an all-electric, full-sized SUV set to debut in the next couple of years and challenge the likes of Nissan’s Patrol and the Toyota LandCruiser.

Then there’s the Kia Niro, a compact SUV available as an all-electric or hybrid vehicle (where a small petrol engine helps out). Today’s Niros aren’t far off being updated but the current model showcases the Koreans’ ability to produce handsome and credible electric transport, running around at 14-15 kWh per 100 kilometres.

It’s an easy, comfortable machine to drive, albeit expensive personal transport from around $63,000 (before on-road costs) for the electric Sport model. And it’d take more than 20 hours for a re-charge from a standard 240-volt power point. (A fair bit less obviously with a fast charger thingymejig.)

In the meantime, Kia still has a decent range of vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines, starting off with the pint-sized Pictanto.

This most compact five-door machine looks good, even better and sharper with the GT-Line version. This model doesn’t have quite the zing of the fully-fledged Picanto GT but has real road presence that stands out from the usual offerings of city runabouts. There are some extra red highlights on the 3.5m long body work, some fancy 16-inch wheels and red touches for the upholstery.

It’s a welcoming, smart cabin with 8-inch touch screen in the centre of the dash that’s easy to work for entertainment and information. The system connects to Android Auto and Apple Play plus Bluetooth for phones. Analogue instrumentation for engine and road speeds, supplemented by a digital speed read-out, is clear and legible while all ergonomics are pretty good, even for tall drivers; back seat room is limited to smaller folk.

The upside to all this comfort, convenience and compact body is that the front-wheel drive Picanto is very much a driver-friendly machine for day-to-day urban wandering, whether down to the supermarket, Uncle Dan Murphys or Bunnings. It keeps up with the traffic, steers with confidence and slots into parking spaces with ease.

And the baby Kia is fine for a run for two from Brisbane city to north or south coasts. Luggage space is a bit limited for more than two folk but it’ll happily sit on the 110km/h limit though the four-speed automatic and the 1.2 litre engine’s 62kW of power may need to be worked a tad when overtaking slower traffic.

For all this running around town, to the coast and back for a weekend away, expect around six litres per 100km; that’s handy enough with current fuel prices.

Speaking of prices, the Kia Picanto starts at $15,990. But why not go the extra yards, and impress the grandkids, with the sporty-styled Picanto GT-Line at $17,440? Or head on up to the GT.

These are good small cars, made by a crowd that’s happy to offer a seven-year warranty on a stylish machine.

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