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Kia Picanto GT and Rio Turbo confirmed for Australia

Kia has confirmed that a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder Picanto GT and Rio GT-Line will both likely make it to Australia before the end of the year.

THE ARRIVAL OF a more potent petrol engine gives both micro- and small-hatch a much-needed performance boost, with the Picanto currently available only in 1.25L non-turbo four-cylinder, while Rio is a sole 1.4L non-turbo four offering.

Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) product planning general manager Roland Rivero confirmed that the Rio will be the first of the duo to add turbocharging to its range, arriving as part of MY19 upgrades from next month.

The MY19 Rio will still open in S guise with a 1.4L and six-speed manual or four-speed automatic, but a new Sport model grade will marry the 1.4L with a new six-speed auto for the first time. The top Rio, meanwhile, will become the GT-Line with 88kW/171Nm 1.0L turbo and seven-speed dual clutch auto.

“There’s nothing wrong with the [Rio] S base model at the moment because it’s predominantly a fleet vehicle,” Rivero told Practical Motoring.

“So 1.4-litre S variants will retain the four-speed automatic, but then you’ll have a Sport with a 1.4-litre and six-speed auto. Then above it will be a 1.0-litre turbo DCT – or dual-clutch [transmission] – which will be the GT-Line and that will also have AEB [Autonomous Emergency Braking] included as well.”

Meanwhile the Picanto will skip the GT-Line tag and be called GT in our market, like the Stinger GT, owing to its lighter weight teamed with a 74kW/172Nm version of the 1.0L turbo.

Kia Picanto GT confirmed for Australia

Every other market around the world calls it GT-Line, but Kia Aus has created a local suspension tune for that Picanto and insists it’s worthy of GT.

“The [Picanto] GT will only be a five-speed manual,” he said, while adding that this Kia will not suffer the same fate as the Proceed GT, which was manual only but was dropped from the range also because it was built in Slovakia (where the Picanto can be bundled onto a boat with others from South Korea).

“I think it will do well for us, if anything it will be another incremental volume opportunity for us towards the tail end of the year. We may have something in our budget for [Picanto GT] in quarter four [2018] and it could be a 1.0-litre turbo manual Picanto. It’s looking very good.”

It’s all about harmonising the new Kia lineup into 2019. By the new year there will be Picanto S, Sport and GT; Rio S, Sport and GT-Line; plus similar versions of the all-new Cerato launching locally this week. Stay tuned…

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Dan DeGasperi

Dan DeGasperi