|Picanto Click to enlarge.|
Responding to growing customer demand in Europe for small cars with low running costs and low emissions, Kia is introducing a bi-fuel gasoline-LPG model to its Picanto small car range. The new variant, introduced at the Frankfurt show, will record fuel economy in LPG mode of 5.8 l/100 km (40.6 mpgUS) and CO2 emissions of 100 g/km; automatic stop-start (ISG) equipped models will achieve 5.6 l/100 km (42 mpgUS) and 97 g/km.
Picanto LPG is powered by a special version of Kia’s three-cylinder 1.0-liter Kappa engine which produces 67 ps (66 hp, 49 kW) and 90 N·m (66 lb-ft) of torque. To process LPG the engine is fitted with an additional fuel system featuring a solenoid valve, vaporiser (which turns the liquid LPG into a gas by reducing its pressure by 0.7 Bar), a gas filter and an injector module.
Made in Korea, the Kappa family of engines share many common characteristics, including dual CVVT (continuously variable valve timing), a cast aluminium block, off-set crankshaft, maintenance-free long-life timing chain and low-friction ‘beehive’ valve springs.
The new Picanto LPG is fitted with two fuel tanks—the regular 35-liter (9.2 gallon) gasoline tank in the regular position ahead of the rear axle and a 27-liter (7.1-gallon) pressurized LPG tank located beneath the trunk floor in the space previously occupied by the spare wheel. Trunk capacity is 152 liters 5.4 ft3) with rear seats upright and a tire-mobility kit is provided in case of a puncture.
Drivers can switch from gasoline to LPG (and vice-versa) by pressing a button on the dashboard. Apart from the addition of the fuel selector button, the only other change inside the Picanto LPG is the fitting of a new instrument cluster with two fuel gauges (gasoline and LPG) and two ‘low-fuel’ warning lamps.
The LPG tank and the system’s equipment adds 51 kg to the Picanto’s weight, so in order to maintain brisk acceleration (0-100 km/h in 14.5 seconds) the final drive ratio is lowered by 8.6% (from 4.235:1 to 4.600:1). The Picanto’s top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph) is unchanged from the standard 1.0-liter gasoline model.
Available safety equipment will include up to seven airbags (with a new driver’s knee airbag as an option on EX models), ESC electronic stability control, HAC hill-start assist control, and ‘active’ front seat head restraints to protect against whiplash injury in a rear impact. The Kia Picanto achieved a 4-Star safety rating in EuroNCAP crash tests.
For additional safety, an ESS (Emergency Stop Signal) system is standard in Europe. Sensors detect when the driver is braking suddenly and hard, and then flash the brake lights three times to alert following drivers that the car is slowing rapidly.
The new Picanto model will be available with a choice of LX or EX equipment levels and five-door or three-door bodystyles – just like other models in the Picanto line-up.
Initially, the bi-fuel model will be available in Germany, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Portugal and the Netherlands, where it expected to account for up to 7% of Picanto sales. When it goes on sale later this year, the left-hand drive Picanto LPG will be the first, and only, LPG-powered car in the marketplace with a 7-Year, 150,000 km warranty.