Kia Picanto Tuning Guide

"Picking the right Picanto mods."

The Picanto is Kia's small 5 door hatch which has become quite popular. We'll take a look at the best tuning mods for your car.

Small light cars like the Picanto respond quite well to power hikes. It doesn't take much to really pep up your Picanto's performance. They are quite popular among young drivers and are cheap to insure and run.

We take a peek at Picanto tuning and highlight the optimum modifications. Kia Picantos are good project cars and with carefully picked performance upgrades you can dramatically improve your driving experience.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Improving the handling should be your first priority in your Picanto tuning project. We would go to a maximum drop of 45mm on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this.

Your aim in Picanto engine tuning should be to increase peak power and Torque at the top end.

With choice performance mods you can change your Picanto into a really fun car, beating bigger engined sportier cars on the track.

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power, so start with a bigger engine.

Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

Revvy engines suit the Picanto really well and we've seen some awesome supercharger upgrades done.

Power Mods.

These mods are usually performed by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Getting the right mods to match your planned use of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just won't work well on the road as it makes the car hard to control in slow traffic.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include:
    Sports exhaust, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Alloy wheels, Panel air filter, Lighter flywheel, Remap.

    Typical stage 2 mods often include:
    Power clutch, Fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades, Ported and polished head, Fast road cam.

    Typical stage 3 mods often include:
    Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Sports gearbox, Competition cam, Engine balancing.

    Your aims when modding your car should be a nice flat torque curve. You want to avoid sending all the torque to be at the top end of the rev range unless you are creating a motorsport car.

    In this article we shall give an overview and introduction to the best mods for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance mod.

    Fast road cams offer one of the biggest performance gains for your money as far as a bolt on part goes on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine.

    The intake and exhaust durations play a large part in your car's power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car hard to drive in traffic.

    You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a reflashed ECU for the best performance gains.

    You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to uprate the fuelling.

    If you find you experience flat spots and power surges after your mods you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well.

    To get sufficient fuel you may need to uprate the injectors on your engine. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Picanto's uprated injectors.

    Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

    The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Please note that WE DO NOT RECOMMEND INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car extensively and are finding that the standard air intake has become a restriction.

    Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned, large capacity engines.

    This can be sited within an air box but a panel filter should suffice for most applications.

    TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

    Sports exhausts balance the flow of air through the engine. But if your exhaust is too big, i.e. it's over 1 inch bore, you will lose a great deal of the flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

    Getting the cylinder head flowed (ported and polished) will further help more air into each cylinder. This is definitely a job for a professional with a flow bench.

    A good heavy duty fast road performance clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never make false economies or expect a standard OEM clutch to cope.

    Turbo engines are just crying out to be Reprogrammed. You will see large power gains on most modern turbo charged cars including diesels making a remap one of the most cost effective and large modifications for your money.

    The most phenomenal power gains for NA (naturally aspirated) engines usually involve the addition of forced induction.

    It is usually easier to add a supercharger than it is to get a turbo working. urbos provide boost in exponential proportion to rising engine speed and this can make mapping difficult.

    The nice proportional boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them easier to map. To cope with forced induction you will usually need to decrease the engines compression ratio .

    Alloy Wheel Upgrades.

    Because alloy wheels are lighter they improve performance and they help to cool the brake disks.

    Large Picanto alloy wheels can decrease performance. If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio. Although some people have gone larger, we would stick to a 17 inch rim size as the maximum.

    If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss Picanto options in more detail with our Picanto owners.

    It would also be worth reading our unbiased Kia tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

    Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below. We love hearing about our website visitors projects, especially the mods done and which work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these articles which are kept updated and constantly revised.

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    2 Responses to “Picanto Tuning”

    1. Minx says:

      Great stuff, i never knew that there is a picanto forum especially for mods. I bought my picanto cause it was cheap and had allot of extras. Now i have fallen head over feet, but in south africa you struggle to get performance parts for it. Glad to read your article and looking forward to more. Enjoy!

    2. yulius says:

      i need info about perfomrnace chip for kia picanto, can anyone tell me which brand produce performance chip for kia picanto ?

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