Performance upgrade for new Kia Picanto

The entry-level 1.0-litre engine for the five-door version of the small car has been improved over the current unit and as a result is more efficient with higher performance, says the Korean manufacturer.

The new 68bhp engine takes nearly two seconds less to reach 60mph from standing with a time of 15.8 seconds and the top speed has been increased from 93mph to 95mph.

However, advances in engine technology have also lowered CO2 emissions from 114g/km to 99g/km – a significant improvement because the car now qualifies for zero road tax and exemption from the London congestion charge.

There are also benefits in terms of fuel economy, which has risen from 58.8mpg to 67.3mpg on the combined cycle.

As a result, Kia has labelled the entry level engine, which is matched to a five-speed manual gearbox, as an EcoDynamic model. The ‘eco signature’ pinpoints the best performing models in the Kia range in terms of environmental performance.

Prices for the 1.0-litre engine in five-door configuration start from £7,995. Standard models include a radio/CD player and electric windows. However, air conditioning can be added for an additional £600.

The second ‘2’ specification is the only other option available for the 1.0-litre engine and adds Bluetooth, voice recognition, USB and iPod connectivity, steering wheel controls, heated door mirrors, air con, and rear electric windows.

Cosmetic touches include 14" alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and more premium black upholstery for the interior.

Prices for the ‘2’ model start from £9,595. A second engine, a 1.25-litre unit, is available with an automatic gearbox and a higher specification ‘3’ trim level.

Prices for 1.25-litre Kia Picanto start from £10,195 for the five-door model. Three-door models using both engine options will go on sale for the first time in the UK in October.