DRIVEN | Kia Picanto X-Line arrives in SA as a new entry-level crossover

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• Kia launched its new Picanto X-Line in South Africa.

• The X-Line model sits at the top of Kia's revised Picanto range.

• The Picanto X-Line offers an improved ride quality over its predecessor.

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Kia South Africa is on a product offensive like few, with no less than five new vehicles earmarked for local launch in 2021's first half. The automaker kicked proceedings off with the Picanto X-Line's arrival - the new top model for Kia's popular city car. In the overall Picanto lineup, the X-Line replaces the SMART model as Kia opts to endow its city car with a crossover model.

As such, the Picanto X-Line is slightly wider and higher than the rest of the range, but has the same ground clearance (151mm) and weight (962kg) as its siblings. The car is differentiated by its bespoke exterior that includes a new grille, aggressive front bumper, and broader stance thanks to those 15-inch wheels.

Inside, there is ample space for the front passengers. And while the rear offers a decent amount of room, bigger and taller passengers might find the space troublesome on longer trips. The Picanto X-Line further ups its game with an eight-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system. This system is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible, giving clear readings of the Google Maps and other services on your phone that can be mirrored on the screen.

Additional features that make the X-Line a must-consider include all-round electric windows, media controls on the steering wheel, two-tone artificial leather on the seats, and easy-to-operate dials and controls. Kia has always prided itself on producing and selling good quality vehicles, and the Picanto X-Line continues that tradition. At R237 995, the X-Line offers exceptional value for money and is a justifiable headliner for the revised Picanto range.

READ: Kia introduces Picanto X-Line as the new headliner for its A-segment contender

Kia Picanto X-Line
2021 Kia Picanto X-Line

Engine and drive

Kia's 1.25-litre petrol engine powers the Picanto X-Line. This familiar four-cylinder mill offers 61kW and 122Nm, and is mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. At launch, Kia SA availed the manual model to traverse around the Cape Peninsula.

For the X-Line, as well as the rest of the Picanto lineup, Kia improved the city car's torsional stiffness by 32%. This technical update enhances the car's handling, giving it a sturdier ride quality and more steering confidence. As expected, the small capacity engine needs to be revved to get adequate performance out of it, but in and around the city, it offers an almost perfect balance between efficiency and quick bursts between points.

The 15-inch wheels not only look aesthetically pleasing, but also contribute to the car's sturdy on-road dynamics.

Kia Picanto X-Line
2021 Kia Picanto X-Line
Kia Picanto X-Line
2021 Kia Picanto X-Line
Kia Picanto X-Line
2021 Kia Picanto X-Line
Kia Picanto X-Line
2021 Kia Picanto X-Line
Kia Picanto X-Line
2021 Kia Picanto X-Line

What's next for Picanto?

The revisions brought to the current Picanto range, including the X-Line model's addition, could be one of the final updates to the Picanto as we know it. With rumours going around and official confirmation still amiss, the next Picanto could - COULD - be an all-electric model. Kia is actively pursuing and adapting to the next generation of automotive mobility, with electric vehicles (EVs) the focal point around which the future resolves.

As such, Kia is looking at how it can make electric mobility accessible to the broader public, and the Picanto, with its value-for-money package, could be the ideal platform for that. The technologies for EVs are still on the expensive side, but with prices decreasing with each passing year, Kia could be poised for success when the new Picanto comes around - provided the automaker goes the EV route.

It remains to be seen whether this will be the Picanto's future, but if Kia should explore that option, the city car could be more important than we ever could have imagined.

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