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In-depth reviews

Kia Picanto review - Interior, design and technology

Quality is very good, while higher-spec cars come with a seven-inch touchscreen display

Kia says only 10 percent of buyers opt for three-door cars in this sector, so the company has sensibly taken the decision to stop producing the less practical version. As the Picanto’s new-found focus is on refinement and maturity, sticking to the more practical five-door bodystyle is a good move.

Underneath, the Kia uses MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a torsion beam at the rear, while the platform has grown in size with a 15mm-longer wheelbase helping create more room inside. The more spacious cabin tallies with modifications made elsewhere to improve refinement, so there’s a new soundproofing panel beneath the dash and under the cabin, plus sound-absorbing foam at the base of the A and B-pillars. These are said to reduce wind and road noise, while a new engine cover, revised intake design and tweaked engine mounts help reduce noise and vibration from the motor.

Improvements in driving refinement are matched by higher-quality materials inside over its predecessor, but the plastics throughout the cabin still don’t quite feel a match for those in the Up!, although it is a step forward on the old car. You get an acceptable level of kit in 2 trim, with Bluetooth, 14-inch alloys, air-con and all-round electric windows as standard – but beyond this there isn’t much. You’ll have to upgrade to the 3 model if you want more connectivity and better infotainment; the supplement is about £1,400, but this trim is available only with the larger 1.25-litre engine.

Quality is good, and much improved over the outgoing Picanto, which was showing its age in places. Black and grey cloth comes as standard, but buyers can opt for one of several interior colour packs to brighten up the cabin. There are loads of new exterior hues, too, which should appeal to younger buyers. GT Line cars get red details on the grille and bumpers, as well as similar flashes inside.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

There’s not much in the way of infotainment on 1 trim. A small dot-matrix screen comes as standard, while USB and aux-in ports are also included. If you want Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you have to upgrade to the stand-alone Titanium Edition or above, where you’ll also find a larger seven-inch touchscreen and a DAB radio. The trouble is, these models aren’t available with the 1.0-litre engine.

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Meanwhile, 2 trim receives a four-speaker stereo against the standard two-speaker set-up in the entry-level model. Sound quality is OK. The USB socket means you can charge your smartphone on the move, but that this is a highlight alone shows how limited the Kia’s multimedia offering is. Compared with the colour screen in the VW Up!, it feels well behind the curve.

The seven-inch touchscreen on Titanium Edition cars and above brings Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 3D sat-nav maps. It’s as simple and easy to use as it is in the flagship Sorento SUV, with all the same software and identical menus. Everything is logically laid out and easy to use, meaning changing the radio or making a call is simple and straightforward on the move.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 1 5dr [4 seats]
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £9,395

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 1 5dr [4 seats]
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £9,395

Fastest

  • Name
    1.0T GDi GT-line 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £13,045
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