It’s a tiny car, and a huge one. Because while Kia has been making strides in other segments with vehicles like the Cee’d and Sportage, the baby of its range, the Picanto, remains a crucial model for the firm. The Korean manufacturer shifted more than a million examples of the outgoing Picanto over its seven-year lifespan and believes this new, more mature incarnation has the potential to build on that success.
The question isn’t whether Kia can make a good city car – that has already been answered. What we need to find out is whether the Korean giant can bring anything new to a class that gets ever more mature with each new arrival, while meeting the challenge of carving out a profit margin in an £8000 car.
The biggest problem that the new Picanto faces, other than the Volkswagen Up or Fiat Panda, is the Hyundai i10, with which the Kia shares all its key components, from the chassis through to the two engines it offers: a 1.0-litre triple and a 1.2-litre four.
The cheapest Picanto is the sub-£8000 three-door 1.0 1 model. Oddly, in the Hyundai, this engine sits above the 1.2 in the £9000-odd i10 Blue, whereas the 1.2-litre i10 Classic is almost £2000 less than the cheapest 1.2-litre Picanto.
So there are marked differences in the ranges and the way they’re marketed, and just looking at the squatter, sharper-looking Picanto shows that these cars will probably appeal to different people. But can Kia bring anything fresh to the class, and how easy is it to live with the entry-level Picanto as everyday transport?