Kia Picanto review
The Kia Picanto city car has plenty of kit and offers a grown-up drive to go with its sporty looks
As with many Kias, the transformation of the Picanto from the drab and sparse first generation car to this Mk3 is a big one. The latest model builds on the stylish design of the Picanto Mk2, but with a higher quality and better equipped interior, more space, a grown-up driving experience and extra personalisation. Kia even offers an SUV-style X-Line model for those after the crossover look.
Kia has improved the current Picanto even further since then, too, thanks to the updated engines and improved standard equipment levels that were introduced in the mid-life facelift. However, it still faces tough competition from the likes of the VW up! and Hyundai i10, which rival it punch-for-punch in terms of affordability. The standard petrol engines need to be worked hard, although the turbo petrol model is better in that regard. All of the key ingredients for a winning city car are present and correct here, making the Picanto an enticing, likeable and easy-to-drive offering that should be on any city car buyer's shortlist.
The Kia Picanto is the smallest car for sale in UK Kia dealers. It's a strong contender in the city car class, thanks to impressive interior dimensions for its size, a competitive price list and low insurance and everyday running costs.
The current Picanto was launched in 2017. It's the third generation, and marks a significant move upmarket for Kia's entry-level model. It needs to have this selling point, because it has plenty of tough rivals to take on in the sector. Chief among these is the Hyundai i10, which shares running gear with the Picanto.
Also lining up against the Picanto are the Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo which use a similar parts-sharing formula. Another model worth considering is the Fiat Panda, while the Dacia Sandero offers the space of a supermini for the budget of a city car.
Kia no longer offers a Picanto three-door, so your sole body option is a five-door hatchback. The Picanto comes in the logically numbered 1, 2, 3 trims, while at the top of the range there are GT-Line and X-Line models, plus S versions of each of these. As the name suggests, GT-Line and GT-Line S cars have a sporty look, while the X-Line/X-Line S add a raised ride height, chunky off-road bumpers and wheel arch extensions for a diddy SUV look. Prices start from just under £11,000, while the most expensive Picanto will set you back around £16,000.
There are two petrol engines offered in the Picanto - a 1.0-litre three-cylinder and a 1.0 T-GDi turbo version. These have 66bhp and 99bhp respectively, although not all engines are sold in every trim: if you want the turbo triple, it only comes in GT-Line and GT-Line S versions. All cars come with a five-speed manual, while a five-speed auto is available with the non-turbo petrol.
The entry-level Picanto 1 is priced at just over £11k, and it's pretty basic as a result, with electric front windows only, a 2-speaker stereo and manual door mirrors. On the plus side, you get aux and USB sockets, as well as a host of safety equipment such as hill-start assist control and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
If you want more kit, the only option is to move up a trim grade, which is a common occurrence with Kias. The Picanto 2 is around £2,500 extra, but gets alloy wheels, air conditioning and electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors. Move up to the Picanto 3, and you get luxuries such as sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a reversing camera system and more.
Beyond that, the GT-Line, X-Line, GT-Line S and X-Line S offer either sporty or off-roader looks. GT models are marked out by a bodykit, big bumpers and red detailing. The X-Line has a ride height raised by 15mm and chunky bumpers, although like the rest of the range it's front-wheel drive. GT and X-Line provide 16-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights and rear privacy glass, while the S variants add cruise control, heated front seats and an electric sunroof among other luxuries.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Kia Picanto city car has plenty of kit and offers a grown-up drive to go with its sporty looks
- 2Engines, performance and driveLethargic engines aside, the Kia Picanto is good to drive and refined. The three-cylinder turbo spices things up, though
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Kia Picanto will be cheap to run, though various options can affect the car’s fuel economy and emissions
- 4Interior, design and technologyQuality is very good, while higher-spec cars come with an eight-inch touchscreen display
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceCity cars will always be tight on space, but the Picanto maximises its dimensions with a roomy interior and decent boot
- 6Reliability and SafetyKia still offers an industry-leading seven-year warranty, and customers seem a happy bunch