From £7,495
Kia's super supermini

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

Air conditioning, CD/MP3 player, dual airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, alloy wheels, front fog lights, electric windows front and rear (the driver’s side is automatic), electric mirrors, rear spoiler, side skirts, remote central locking, alarm, leather steering wheel, sunglasses holder. Reads more like the spec sheet of an executive saloon than a budget supermini, yet it all comes as standard on Kia’s Picanto if you opt for the £6995 SE.

And it’s not just a nasty cabin disguised with lots of kit. Apart from a mismatch between the plastics on the doors and dashboard, the Kia’s bright, cheery, Euro-look interior is great, with simple, clear switchgear and comfortable, supportive seats. Big-car details such as adjustable headlights, variable wiper speed and child locks for the rear windows give a grown-up feel – and there’s bags of room, too. The rear seat-backs are shallow and legroom is tight behind taller drivers, but there’s more room than in a Fiat Panda and enough space to offer genuine accommodation for four adults.

With just 72lb ft of torque at 2800rpm, the 1.1-litre motor is likely to struggle up hills four-up, but around town it shifts the little Kia along well, revving vigorously to the 6000rpm red line with an eager zing. The gearchange has a long throw and a wide gate, but swaps ratios sweetly, without any snatching or notchiness, and the all-round disc brakes are excellent.

It’s not the sharpest tool around, but the Picanto steers as alertly as a small car should and offers a sharper turn-in than our other favourite budget supermini, the Daihatsu Charade. There’s much less roll than in the Charade, too, though this does have an adverse effect on the ride. While it’s impressive over major intrusions such as speed humps, there is some rumble and thump from the suspension on rutted surfaces.

Still not convinced? How does group three insurance, 57.6mpg, a three-year unlimited mileage warranty and three years’ European roadside assistance sound? If there’s any justice, the friendly and practical Picanto should spice things up in the budget-supermini segment.

Alastair Clements

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka