If there is any area other than its interior where the Picanto truly sets a new standard, it is here. It’s a more subtle shifting of the goalposts, but on its standard 14-inch rims, the Kia offers the best secondary ride quality of any car in its class.
Body control is no better than we’ve experienced in other city cars, with the Picanto being fairly keen to roll and pitch at higher speeds. However, bump absorption around town is truly exceptional.
In particular, the Kia has the ability to soak up the small imperfections that you get over worn asphalt with remarkably little thump or vibration entering the cabin. Experience of a higher-spec Sport model riding on 15-inch alloy wheels suggests that the smaller 14-inch wheels are a big factor in allowing the Picanto to ride so well – another reason, then, to sacrifice some equipment and go for the base car.
The ride at higher speeds is more unsettled by the loose body control, but grip levels are good. There’s also an overall precision and pliancy to the Picanto that speaks of the same well-judged chassis that we’ve praised previously in its i10 twin.
However, the steering is disappointing, given the Kia’s evident capabilities. A car’s steering system doesn’t need to be free of sensation to be appropriately light and user-friendly at town speeds, yet the Kia compromises too much on the weight and feedback it ought to offer, regardless of its basement market position.
There is virtually no sensation at all off the straight-ahead, and at 3.5 turns from lock to lock, you often find yourself needing more steering input than you would imagine, even of a city car. It’s a shame, because there are the makings here of a car that could entertain while also satisfying its crucial abilities as an everyday budget runabout.
But here it falls short and, as a result, it’s not as much fun to drive as the sweeter-handling i10.