The Kia Picanto – a car that travels firmly under the radar of other road users as it doesn’t have a badge to keep up with the Jones’ – a car that many will not even have heard of, despite being around for years – a car that is a firm contender in the city-car market.
Kia as a brand, alongside sister company Hyundai – have, in recent years, upped their game considerably with the style and quality of their cars, making them appeal to a much greater demographic yet retaining their huge reliability.
Yes ok – they may be a little more ‘hard wearing’ inside than some rivals but they are incredibly well screwed together and with a good design team, the lack of soft-touch materials is more than made up for with practically sculpted cabins.
Kia’s Picanto is a car that has transformed from being as bland as drinking lukewarm milk to being a car that is affordably suitable – to be fair to it, the Picanto does what it says on the tin and in certain trim levels, looks absolutely bloody fantastic!
Being slightly bigger than before, this new car is unmistakably from the Korean stable of Kia – sharing more signature features of the brand than ever before making the Picanto stand out for once – I guess the added substance is now like drinking a Steamer than just lukewarm milk.
Two engines are available in the Picanto – both small petrol units – starting with the 1.0L which comes only with a manual gearbox and offers a rather uninspiring 66bhp with 71lb/ft – taking almost 14 seconds from 0-60mph with a claimed return of 64pmg.
A 1.25L is available with either a manual or automatic ‘box and produces a healthier 83bhp with 90lb/ft – the manual getting to 60mph in 11.6 seconds with the auto taking 13.2 seconds and a sign the auto set-up strains a little is the economy which is claimed at 51mpg with the manual claiming 61mpg.
The Picanto comes in five trim levels – starting from a very reasonable £9,450 with the ‘Picanto 1’ – available in 1.0L only and featuring more than most city-car owner’s demand with front electric windows, remote locking, USB & AUX ports, auto headlight and hill-start assists along with other usual safety features.
A ‘picanto 2’ as tested – starts from £10,750 and is likely to be the most popular model – it can be ordered with either of the two engines and receives 14” alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric heated door mirrors, rear electric windows, Bluetooth streaming, body coloured features and a leather multi-function steering wheel.
Next up and you guessed it, the ‘Picanto 3’ sees a bit of a price jump as it starts from £12,650 but further adds autonomous emergency braking, 15” alloy wheels, automatic air con and a 7” touch-screen sat-nav with DAB Radio as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto alongside cruise control with speed limiter, reverse camera and front fog lamps – this model only comes with the 1.25L engine and choice of ‘box.
The final two models offer a sporting feel and look absolutely fantastic due to various details and trim added – both of which only come with the manual ‘box with the ‘Picanto GT-Line’ having the option of either engine whilst the ‘Picanto GT-Line S’ only comes with the larger 1.25L unit.
Main additions to the ‘GT-Line’which starts from £11,950 include 16” alloy wheels, sports bumpers with twin exhausts and extra colour coding outside along with black and red faux leather trim inside and privacy glass as well as LED lighting technology front and rear with bi-function projector headlights.
The ‘GT-Line S’ then adds the sat-nav with DAB Radio, auto air con, cruise control, parking sensors and wireless mobile phone charging along with headed front seats and steering wheel as well as a sunroof – this model starts from £13,950.
This model tested – a ‘Picanto 2’ 1.0L with manual gearbox – proved incredibly spacious for the class it sits within and priced at £10,850 well within reach of many cash buyers, especially if considering an ex-demo or pre-reg model which would be somewhat cheaper.
Around town the Picanto absolutely excels and in many ways looks much better than many rivals such as Hyundai’s i10 and Skoda’s CitiGo – it would even give VW’s ‘up!’ a run for its money when it comes to spec, value and space.
With one of the largest boots in the class – a week’s shopping won’t be an issue and for a young owner, heading out with mates isn’t too much of a squeeze compared to rivals with enough room for a few sports bags in the boot for weekend pursuits.
As said before the 1.0L is a little gutless on anything but city driving and I definitely wouldn’t say this engine makes the Picanto a commuter car – however I imagine the 1.25L power-train would make it bearable as a car that could cope with a commute especially being so easily parked at your destination.
During my week with the Picanto, I ended up having to park in a reasonably tight multi-story car park for an hour and there was a space, tight enough space it was too, with a wall on one side that few would attempt to park in – the little Picanto rose to the challenge of this space with plenty of room to spare.
Also during my week, I done a bit of a spring clean in the house, as such there was a few large bin bags needing delivered to my local amenity site – again the Picanto, not-so-little this time, rose to the challenge as the boot absorbed all that was thrown into it, with relative ease.
Driving the Picanto is painless, safe-feeling and composed, without the major body-roll and unresponsive steering of the previous model – a good thing that I am sure will keep this car as a frim favourite around the globe.
With an almost unheard of nowadays warranty – covering 7 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) the Korean maker is as confident as ever with its cars – offering peace of mind for all owners.
Words and Photos: Graham Curry
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