Three-door Kia Picanto on sale in September

The small car, a new rival to the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Renault Clio, has been completely overhauled for 2012 and goes on sale in UK Kia dealerships next month in time for the new registration plates.

After several rave reviews from established car magazines such as What Car? and Auto Car, the Kia Picanto is expected to be one of the most popular cars in the Korean car maker’s line-up.

Priced from £7,795 (five-door models start from £7,995), the three-door Kia Picanto features the same new styling as the five-door version.

This means a new front end, labelled a ‘tiger face’ by the design team, which itself is led by ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer.

This goes some way to explain the more upmarket feel of the Picanto, and this theme is continued inside with the 1 Air, Halo and Equinox specification levels offering more quality and higher levels of equipment than previous Picanto versions.

Kia says the inside will also be sportier than five-door cars including a choice of four trim colours and alloy wheels (with the exception of 1 Air specifications).

Under the bonnet, the small car is typically frugal, with a 1.0-litre engine delivering 67.3mpg of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions below 100g/km – the criteria for qualifying for zero road tax and exemption from the London congestion charge.

The other engine option in the range is a 1.25-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine which is available with manual or automatic transmission and in an EcoDynamics version, which pushes fuel economy up to 65.7mpg.

The Kia Picanto three-door model will join the five-door version, made popular in a recent advertising campaign highlighting its ‘small yet mighty’ character.

Both new models will be available with the new ’61’ plates from the 1 September 2011.