The Kia Picanto doesn’t just get by on its looks – it’s got brains as well as beauty. It combines compact dimensions with good driving manners and low running costs, so you can see why new drivers and those on a tight budget value it so highly.
Does KIA’s family face work on the Picanto? That’s up to you to decide. We’re fans of its slightly brusque features. It seems that Nissan concurs with KIA’s efforts because it also opted for a more aggressive look for its once meek and mild Micra.
Every Picanto has 5 doors, swept-back headlights, daytime running lights and alloy wheels on ‘2’ trim and above. Boomerang-shaped rear lights and a small roof spoiler with integrated brake light help to set off the rear end.
Higher trim levels add body-coloured door handles and mirrors, larger wheels, front fog lights and chrome highlights to the grille and window surrounds. GT-Line S goes further, with hot hatch-like styling, and X-Line trim gives the Picanto quasi-SUV styling and a higher ride height.
Boomerang-shaped rear lights and a small roof spoiler with integrated brake light help to set off the rear end.
What’s it like to drive?
You get a choice of petrol engines with the KIA Picanto – a couple of 1.0-litre units and a 1.25-litre motor. The more powerful turbo 1.0 is available only with GT-Line trim and it’s a peppy little thing – said to be capable of getting you from rest to 62mph in less than 10 seconds (handy if you find yourself joining a motorway). The non-turbo 1.0 is willing enough for town life, while the 1.25 is a happy medium.
The Picanto might look like it belongs on city streets, but it’s remarkably good fun on twisty roads, which is all the excuse you need to head out into the country at the weekend.
Its decent body control has a slight downside: a firm-ish ride, and more bumps make themselves felt than they would in the Volkswagen up! for example. It’s still a comfortable car, especially when it’s fitted with the smaller wheels you get with the lower trims.
The Picanto might look like it belongs on city streets, but it’s remarkably good fun on twisty roads.
While the Volkswagen up! leads the class on interior quality, the KIA Picanto isn’t that far behind, with a well laid-out dashboard punctuated with chrome-effect trim on ‘2’ trim and above – plus an entertainment system that’s mounted nice and high, so you can see what’s going on as you’re driving.
On older cars and lower trims it’s a small monochrome affair linked to an audio system with 2 or 4 speakers. On the ‘3’ and above you get a larger colour touchscreen with sat-nav and 6 speakers. You also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with the more advanced system.
There’s air-conditioning and Bluetooth on ‘2’ trim, while ‘3’ adds climate control, cruise control and even a reversing camera with the view displayed on the touchscreen. GT-Line adds some colourful highlights to the fake leather seats, while GT-Line S heats the front seats and steering wheel – toasty.
It’s easy to get comfortable behind the steering wheel, and while the wheel itself only adjusts for height and the front seats only slide forwards and back, we can’t imagine anyone complaining about the set-up. The Picanto is surprisingly spacious for such a small car, with plenty of room up front, and only the tallest adults will complain about rear legroom – some versions are able to carry 3 back there. Shoulder room is tight, so make sure the trip is a short one.
The KIA Picanto is surprisingly practical when you’re in the front seats, with a pair of cup holders and a storage tray for your phone in front of the gear lever, large door bins and a decent glovebox. You get another cup holder in the rear seats and pockets in the back of the front seats.
Even better, the Picanto has one of the most spacious boots in the class – who knew? With the rear seats raised, there’s room for a few supermarket bags, and with them folded you could even use the baby Kia for a tip run – just bear in mind that there’s a bit of a step in the boot floor when the seat backs are folded.
Running costs and reliability
The KIA Picanto’s non-turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine is said to be its most economical, with an average figure of 55.4mpg. The other petrol engines aren’t far behind, with the turbo and the 1.25 having been rated at 50.4mpg. Those figures are for cars with manual gearboxes – opt for the automatic and economy dropsto 43.5mpg.
What cinch loves
We love the KIA Picanto’s styling. Sure, you have to opt for the higher trims to get the bigger wheels and flashes of colour inside and out, but the baby KIA is a good-looking car for new and older drivers. We also love its practical interior, with lots of storage options, and its surprisingly roomy boot.
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Compact dimensions, a funky exterior and a practical interior give the KIA Picanto plenty of appeal for city dwellers. It feels at home on city streets, where a tight turning circle means it’s easy to park, but it’s happy heading out of town from time to time if you choose one of the perkier engines.
This review was