The range culminates in the ‘GT Line’ trim you see here, and the slightly better equipped ‘GT Line S’ specification. The latter gains a 7in infotainment system, wireless charger for your smartphone, heated front seats, rear parking sensors and an electronic sunroof over the GT Line styling kit, which adds extended front and rear valances and side sills to the standard Picanto’s already-relatively-pumped-up form, as well as exterior trim finishers for the grilles and sills that can be had in red, satin chrome or black. Chromed twin exhaust tips also feature.
As with the cheaper 1.0-litre version, this new Picanto is based on a widely overhauled body-in-white that’s longer in the wheelbase and shorter in the front overhang than the last version was – as well as 40 percent torsionally stiffer and 21kg lighter. Stiffer anti-roll bars, re-tuned springs and dampers, an all-new torsion beam rear suspension system and a quicker steering rack are key parts of the chassis overhaul.
Going for the 1.2-litre engine instead of the entry-level 1.0-litre means paying a £500 premium on the list price, though it’ll make little difference to what your Picanto will cost to own otherwise. Peak power jumps from 66- to 83bhp and torque from 71- to 90lb ft. The latter benefits from a significantly more linear torque curve than the cheaper three-cylinder motor, and also allows Kia to fit gear ratios for the 1.2 that are around seven per cent taller than those of the 1.0.
Is there more to the Kia Picanto than its looks?
The Picanto GT Line’s sports styling may be a bit over-the-top for more mature buyers but the added presence flowing from that cutesy-aggressive front bumper and those high-intensity foglamps will more likely be approved of by the twenty-something clientele that Kia is directly courting here.
The car’s oversized C-shaped tail lamps make it just as recognisable from the back as it is from the front, while its 16in alloy wheels fill those newly flared arches very nicely. If there is a problem here, it’s only that the car’s looks may promise greater driving dynamism than the car ultimately provides – but that’s hardly likely to deter anyone buying their first car.
On the inside, the Picanto GT Line has leather-effect upholstery and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. At this trim level, you get Kia’s 7in touchscreen infotainment system thrown in, which works quite well and offers smartphone mirroring for both Apple and Android smartphones. Glossy sports pedals are another sporty touch in a cabin that accommodates taller drivers fairly well, though doesn’t allow them to sit quite as low or as straight-legged as in a VW Up.
The absence of reach adjustment on the steering column may be a similar disappointment to taller drivers, although the wheel could still be positioned agreeably for this 6ft 3in tester, allowing for a fairly upright seat backrest.
A bigger ergonomic bugbear was Kia’s occasionally troubling relative close positioning of clutch pedal and footrest. Although, the latter sitting slightly deeper in the footwell than the former and making it a bit too easy to snag the underside of the clutch with your left foot in the process of changing gear. However, credit to Kia for fitting proper seats with separate adjustable headrests up front, rather than chairs with integrated head restraints which are seldom as comfortable.
With the engine running, you can appreciate the refinement boost the Picanto has had with this 1.2-litre motor just as easily as you can with the 1.0-litre. The engine starts quietly, those twin pipes evidently there for visual effect, rather than sporting tonality. Around town, the motor remains well-mannered and smooth, only getting slightly tremulous and coarse above 4000rpm.