Kia Picanto likely for Oz

KIA is working hard on plans to release the pint-sized Picanto hatchback in Australia next year as a rival to the Mitsubishi Mirage.

To slot underneath the lightly revised Rio seen for the first time at the 2014 Paris Motor show, the Korean-built supermini is charged with attracting new and younger buyers to the badge.

“We are seriously looking at the Picanto again,” Kia Motors Australia PR boss Kevin Hepworth told us in Paris.

“We have an innovative marketing plan ready, because sales in the micro-car segment are so restricted. We think we can create a market for it.”

While Hepworth refused to confirm variants or specification details, he promised that, if given the green light for Australia, it would arrive with a five-star ENCAP safety rating.

It most probably would be a facelifted version, since the existing model is now two years old.

The Picanto news comes just days after Kia announced a ground-breaking seven-year unlimited-kilometre transferable warranty on all new vehicles sold in Australia from October 1 this year.

It kicks off a busy next 12 months for the company, with the facelifted Rio (basically bumpers and trim updates) here from November, followed by the third-generation Sorento SUV (another Paris debutante) and Carnival people-mover landing in January.

The next-gen Optima is expected to debut at the Chicago motor show in February of the New York motor show in April, ahead of an Australian release later in 2015.

Look out for a frugal diesel-hybrid version, previewed in the current Optima at Paris as the T-Hybrid.

It features a 1.7-litre turbo-diesel mated to a 48V lead-carbon battery, electric motor and an electric supercharger for significant power and emissions benefits.

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