From £7,495
Kia Picanto builds on proven mechanicals to deliver a good-value package with real appeal

Our Verdict

Kia Picanto
Can Korea’s new supermini shine in a class packed with stars?

The Kia Picanto is a mature and likeable city car capable of challenging the class’s best

  • First Drive

    Kia Picanto 1.25 Halo

    As good as any other Picanto to use and drive, but pricing is optimistic despite a full kit list
  • First Drive

    Kia Picanto 1.2 Ecodynamics

    The sweet spot in the range with fewer compromises for its price and size than any rival
23 March 2011

What is it?

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 life span and believes this new, more mature incarnation has the potential to build on that success.

Kia is said to have smarted over the glowing reaction to the Hyundai i10’s chassis set-up, so it has given the new Picanto’s settings a few revisions. Apart from the slight increase in wheelbase, there’s now more castor angle in the MacPherson strut front suspension, along with 12 per cent softer springs and 20mm shorter bump stops.

The rear torsion beam set-up gets a more thorough rethink. The beam axle is 60 per cent stiffer, with 29 per cent softer springs and 15mm shorter bump stops. Kia claims the settings reduce understeer but improve stability and compliance.

See pics of the Kia Picanto in action

What’s it like?

The Picanto certainly looks like it’s grown up. Gone are the cute but unmistakably Far Eastern curves of the original, replaced by Peter Schreyer-influenced sharp lines everywhere. The main cues are the Kia ‘family face’, widened bumpers that give the car an unusually chunky head-on appearance and particularly neat, angular tail-lights.

Based on the Hyundai i10, the new Picanto is a longer car than before (by 60mm, with a 15mm hike in wheelbase), delivering a modest increase in legroom over the old car and a decent gain in boot space (up by more than a quarter, at 200 litres).

There will also be a three-door version for the first time; it’ll turn up before the end of this year, with more sporty styling helped by redesigned bumpers. But in the meantime, the five-door will launch this summer equipped with two engines: a 1.2-litre, four-cylinder unit producing 84bhp, and the 1.0-litre triple tested here.

This 68bhp motor can deliver CO2 emissions as low as 95g/km when fitted with stop-start, although in this price bracket we’d quite understand if Kia elects to offer the three-pot only in regular, 99g/km form.

Inside, the Picanto feels modern, airy and considerably more high end than the i10. The plastics are still hard, but the texture patterns employed on the dashboard – and a strip of brightening chrome that runs across the centre of the fascia – give it a more classy air than you’ll find in its stablemate. The driving position is comfortable, despite the fact that you sit a little high and the seats are short on lateral support.

On the road, the Picanto isn’t rapid. But the three-pot produces its peak torque at 3500rpm and provided you don’t push it too far beyond that point, it’ll pull quite sweetly. The engine note is more of a mechanical grumble than a metallic rasp, and once you reach a motorway cruise of 70mph it fades to a surprisingly low level anyway. Wind and road noise are quite well suppressed too, the latter helped by tall 14in tyres on more lowly models.

The handling is also geared towards comfort – which is to say that the Picanto does a decent job of soaking up bumps, at the expense of some of the direct purity of the i10. That car’s amusingly pointy front end has gone; push on here and you’ll be greeted by steering that’s a bit vague around the straight ahead and a chassis that’s keener to roll than to turn. Behave yourself, though, and the Picanto feels composed.

Should I buy one?

Yes. Kia’s latest can’t quite offer the i10’s level of on-the-edge entertainment. But it does feel more grown-up, more refined and much better finished, offering road tax-free, economical motoring if it’s not rushed. With that in mind, the probable starting price of around £8000 has a distinct whiff of a bargain about it.

John McIlroy

Kia Picanto 1.0

Price: £8000 (est); Top speed: 95mph; 0-62mph: 14.4sec; Economy: 67.2mpg (combined); CO2 emissions: 99g/km; Kerb weight: 845kg; Engine 3 cyls, 998cc, petrol; Installation: Front, transverse, FWD; Power: 68bhp at 6200rpm; Torque: 70lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual</p

Join the debate

Comments
19

8 April 2011

I wonder if Kia will be brave enough to do a warm version of the 3 door? It could be just the image builder they need, and with a bit of work to the suspension they could have a surprise hit.

However with its low price, grown up looks inside, and very low running costs i am sure its this 5 door that will flood out of the showrooms

8 April 2011

Looks good. If it can be had for under the £7000 mark after discounts/ haggling would probably make a nice buy.

8 April 2011

Looks like a cracking little car to me .

BTW what is the relationship between Hyundai and Kia ? Are they a group like VW Audi or do they just share bits like Ford Peugeot Citroen .

8 April 2011

Never mind the on-the-edge handling and pointy front end (or lack of), what is the likely fuel consumption and do the rear seats fold flat? I mean this is a shopping car, not a BTCC racer...

I'd also be interested to know how Kia manage to squeeze this car below the 100gm/km threshold when the likes of Toyota and Suzuki with similar small cars fail. Are the Koreans more clever, or are they simply better at cheating the EU test cycle?

It will be interesting to see how this compares with the new VW Lupo and its derivatives when they appear.

jer

8 April 2011

For 8k why would'nt you but a 1 year old French hatch - C4/308/Megane?

8 April 2011

What a little cracker! perfect 2nd car or urban commuter. I believe its capable of 85g/km with stop/start not 95 as per the review, although there is no financial gain in it doing so at the moment.

Kia got in a mess years ago, heads rolled at the top and Kia were taken over by the larger Hyundai, sensible influence from the state rather than just trying to wash their hands of the industry like in the UK.

Oh yes and Autocar forgot to mention when talking value - 7 year warranty on it!

8 April 2011

[quote jer]

For 8k why would'nt you but a 1 year old French hatch - C4/308/Megane?

[/quote]

umm.. cos the Kia is..
Brand new for you, no ones Kebab stains on the seats.
More economical.
Will be more reliable.
Looks great.
7 years warranty instead of 2.
French marque dealerships are not brilliant on service.
etc etc

8 April 2011

Once again I fail to see why everyone is getting so excited by a new Kia.

Yes its class competitive, but so it should be. What new ground does it break? None.

8 April 2011

Autocar: "Inside, the Picanto feels modern, airy and considerably more high end than the i10. The plastics are still hard, but the texture patterns employed on the dashboard – and a strip of brightening chrome that runs across the centre of the fascia – give it a more classy air than you’ll find in its stablemate."

I am sure this isn't what Hyundai want to hear, considering Kia are supposed to be the more low rent marque.

I like this car lots. Unpretentious, smart and wholly likable.

I must admit, if I were in the market for this sort of car, I would be torn between both this and the i10. The Kia is certainly the better looking car, if not quite as entertaining.

What ever way both cars put most of their more expensive competitors to shame.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

8 April 2011

[quote LP in Brighton]I'd also be interested to know how Kia manage to squeeze this car below the 100gm/km threshold when the likes of Toyota and Suzuki with similar small cars fail.[/quote] iQ is under the magic 100 barrier [quote TegTypeR]I would be torn between both this and the i10[/quote] I wouldn't. I know the i10 is a cracking little car, but its image is very blue rinse chic. This I would def consider over an Aygo/C1/107/alto/picanto

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