Business Maverick


Kia Picanto X-Line — more jam for your rand

Kia Picanto X-Line — more jam for your rand
The new Kia Picanto X-Line. (Photo: Kia Motors)

With its larger stance and crossover appeal, the new Kia Picanto X-Line is a nimble drive packed with impressive standard offerings.

While celebrations across the planet were subdued as we moved from pandemic-stricken 2020 into pandemic-stricken 2021, South Korean motoring giant Kia rivalled any international New Year’s event by unmasking its new logo and brand slogan in a world record-breaking fireworks extravaganza in Seoul on 6 January. 

As I watched the extraordinary pyrotechnics on YouTube, my first response was, “poor dogs and cats”. If you missed it here it is:

The event was a resounding statement of confidence from the brand, considering that the global motoring industry had very little to celebrate after a year of disastrous sales due to Covid-19. 

The award-winning motoring giant, often referred to as “the most improved volume car maker on the planet”, had different ideas. Not only did it show its power through a breathtaking fireworks display, but it used the opportunity to reveal that its “Power to Surprise” tagline would now become “Movement that inspires” — in line with Kia’s plans to roll out a range of electric cars over the next few years. 

More controversial was the unveiling of its new logo, which had some of us muttering, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Changing taglines and logos are nothing new in the motoring world, especially when a brand is trying to move on from a global scandal. Think Volkswagen. After the diesel emission disaster of 2015 tarnished the German brand’s reputation, a new logo (described by VW as “one of the largest rebranding campaigns in the world”), was revealed in September 2019, to tie in with the unveiling of the company’s ID.3 electric car. 

VW’s updated logo. (Image: Supplied)

I doubt a new logo, where the V no longer touches the W and the W no longer touches the circle, is enough to make us forget the carbon emissions debacle that rocked its credibility, but soon cranes across 154 countries where VW has a footprint were hauling the old tainted logo off dealerships in an attempt to start afresh. 

One can only imagine how much dosh was splashed as creatives and marketers spent thousands of hours knocking out the new look. 

BMW’s new logo. (Image: BMW Group)

The other German powerhouse, BMW, also recently changed its logo. Its blue-and-white roundel now has a clear background instead of a black one. 

Not to be left behind in the rebranding stakes, America’s General Motors recently revealed its new logo that heralds the approaching era of electric vehicles — the first substantial emblem change in more than five decades. 

The once all-caps acronym is now in lower case and its navy blue hue is now much brighter. According to GM, this is to evoke “the clear skies of a zero-emissions future”. 

Whether people actually notice these changes — or make purchases based on any of these deeply dissected ideas — is a matter of opinion. Sometimes new logos work and sometimes they don’t. 

Which gets me back to Kia.

Kia’s new logo. (Image: Supplied)

In all honesty, I really liked the old logo with its easy to read blocky font housed in an oval. Blame it on my ageing eyes, but on glancing at the new more cursive-looking one, it takes me a few seconds to actually figure out what it’s saying. To me the cursive I in KIA looks more like a V, so I instinctively read KVA.

A lot has been said by Kia to explain its new logo. In a statement released in January, the brand used words like “symmetry”, “rhythm” and “rising”, expanding on how it wanted to go for a more informal and personal approach resembling a handwritten signature — a “rhythmical, unbroken line”, and that the new lettering “demonstrates confidence” while the “rising gestures” of the logo “embody Kia’s rising ambitions for the brand”. 

Kia’s president and CEO Ho Sung Song further explained how “Kia’s new logo represents the company’s commitment to becoming an icon for change and innovation… 

“The automotive industry is experiencing a period of rapid transformation, and Kia is proactively shaping and adapting to these changes. Our new logo represents our desire to inspire customers as their mobility needs evolve, and for our employees to rise to the challenges we face in a fast-changing industry.”

Okay, thanks, Ho Sung. To me it seems like a hell of a lot of effort for a three-letter word that looked perfectly fine to me. 

The new Kia Picanto X-Line. (Photo: Kia Motors)

I recently attended the national launch of the all new Kia Picanto X-Line in and around Cape Town. The first thing I noticed was that the new hatch still had its old familiar easy-to-read oval logo.

The X-Line still has Kia’s old logo. (Photo: Kia Motors)

I felt weirdly relieved — like when you see an old pair of familiar slippers. Despite my whingeing about new logos, I am a big fan of the Picanto, regularly recommending it to buyers who are looking for high-quality rides in the entry-level A segment. 

The third generation Picanto was released in 2017 and in 2020 underwent a few design, infotainment and safety refreshments. However, Kia has nailed it with its all new 2021 X-Line — a larger version of its siblings, showing off a more outdoorsy, crossover design. 

To toughen its stance, it’s kitted out with protective skid plates and black plastic armour. The rear bumper has been styled to resemble a twin tailpipe arrangement. 

15-inch alloys. (Photo: Kia Motors)

Adding to its adventurous appeal, there’s a new-look radiator grille, an aggressive bumper, 15-inch alloys and, as far as lights go, which Kia has a special knack for, there are LED headlights, rear LED tail lights and daytime running lights. Ground clearance of 156mm is about 5mm higher than most of its competitors in the segment.

Impressive standard gear

Inside the X-Line is well equipped and spacious. (Image: Kia Motors)

Inside there’s a whole lot of bang for your buck (or, as some locals may say, more jam for the rand), by way of a comprehensive offering of standard gear including an easy-to-operate eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system housed on a premium-looking dashboard, two-tone faux leather upholstery, power steering, an adjustable steering column, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear stick as well as a reverse camera and sunroof.

The Picanto X-Line’s two-tone faux leather seats. (Photo: Kia Motors)

The colour palette is funky and upbeat with new choices like Honey Bee, an orange/yellow hue and the standout Lime Light and more subdued Alice Blue — my favourite. Safety-wise, the X-Line has ABS, driver and passenger airbags and ISOFIX child seat mountings, while boot space is class-leading and can be expanded to more than 1,000 litres with rear seats flat. 

Driving the X-Line

What really impressed me was how the new X-Line 1.2-litre engine handled the drive along the twisty Atlantic seaboard route via Cape Point to Scarborough. I got to test the 5-speed manual (there’s also a 4-speed auto) and found the crossover hatch to be sure-footed and nimble with enough power in its 61kW /122Nm engine to confidently overtake (with a bit of extra revving) and handle inclines. 

Gear changes were smooth and on open roads she behaved impeccably on acceleration, with very little road or wind noise despite a few Cape crosswinds on the day. 

The suspension was solid over speed bumps and uneven road surfaces. The torsional stiffness in the X-Line has been improved by 35% which explains why she feels more sturdy.

With Kia’s global strategy being all about aggressively developing future mobility, with its new tagline “Movement that inspires”, the concept of an all-electric Picanto for the local market seems like an excellent one to me. 

And although this may feel like a faraway idea considering the prohibitive high tax on EVs in South Africa, Kia has always been ahead of the game when it comes to having the power to surprise. 


Picanto 1.2 Manual X-Line: R237,995.

Picanto 1.2 Automatic X-Line: R251,995.

All Picanto models feature an unlimited kilometre, five-year warranty as well as a prepaid two-year/30,000km service plan. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.