From £7,495
The sweet spot in the range with fewer compromises for its price and size than any rival

Our Verdict

Kia Picanto

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

What is it?

It’s not enough for a city car to simply be cheap and small, these days. To be a real success it must be a liveable everyday car even for those who do substantial mileage, and the all-new Kia Picanto does this better than anything else currently in its class.

We’re testing the 1.2 Ecodynamic model, complete with new engine (already used in the popular Hyundai i10), a five-speed manual ‘box and standard stop-start.

What’s it like?

More than its energetic and composed driving style, it’s actually the Picanto’s interior that sets it apart from the rest of the class. The Ecodynamic model is only available in mid-spec ‘2’ trim, complete with air-con, Bluetooth, wheel-mounted audio controls, USB/aux-in and various other useful luxuries, and it’s noticeable from the moment you sit in the driver’s seat that the Picanto feels like a big car. Not only because of its decent spec, but mainly because of the wide, comparably spacious cabin and solid-looking, effective architecture of the dash and controls.

The experience on the move is equally grown-up. This 83bhp motor is the more powerful of two engines (the other being a 1.0-litre) available in Kia’s new city car, and it does prove to be a less demanding engine for most situations. You still need to work it hard if you want to make good progress, but it has enough urge to feel comfortable at motorway speeds or to sit at low revs around town without straining.

The Picanto is also impressively refined by class standards. In normal driving conditions noise and vibration is well suppressed and it’s a surprisingly relaxing car to cover miles in. Our test car rode on optional 15-inch alloys (14s are standard) and soaked up the creases and cracks in French roads very effectively, offering plenty of grip and enough body control to also make it quite entertaining should you want it to be.

The biggest flaw in the package is the steering, which is good for urban use but feels a little too nervous off the dead-ahead at higher speeds and for motorway use. A reach-adjustable steering wheel would also help improve an adequate but not all that flexible driving position.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely. At just over £10k some might question the price, but we’d say this model is the sweet spot in the range; worth the £2k over the base 1.0-litre thanks to its generous standard spec, more flexible motor and the tempting running costs. The Picanto suffers fewer compromises for its price and size than any rival. It’s nothing so restrictive as a city car, it’s just a short hatchback.

Kia Picanto 1.2 Ecodynamics

Price: £10,195; Top speed: 106mph; 0-60mph: 11.0sec; Economy: 65.7mpg; Co2: 100g/km; Kerb weight: 930kg; Engine type: 4cyls, 1248cc, petrol; Power: 83bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 89lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox: 5spd manual

Join the debate


16 May 2011

Save yourself £3,000 (will buy a couple of years' petrol) and get a Hyundai i10 Classic with a/c as standard

16 May 2011

I've got to say, it's growing on me. I'd have to sit in and test-drive one though...

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

16 May 2011

Is... Is that steering wheel smiling at me?



16 May 2011

[quote tuga]Is... Is that steering wheel smiling at me?[/quote]

My thoughts exactly. Looks like an evil grinning clown. I'll take an i10.

16 May 2011

[quote Johnny English]Is... Is that steering wheel smiling at me?[/[/quote]

[quote Johnny English] Looks like an evil grinning clown[/quote]

I wondered what the Hell are these guys talking about then looked at the interior pictures............................ Hold my hand someone. I'm frightened.

[quote Johnny English]I'll take an i10.[/quote]

I'd have the i10 too. My Mum has one and they're every bit as brilliant as the motoring press say.

16 May 2011

This looks a lot better without the side skirts all the photos of the pre-launch models showed.

Agree totally about the steering wheel, and are those some sort of loose covers on the backs of the rear seat and its base?

16 May 2011

I'd rather have the Hyundai i10 Active. That would save about £2k. OK, I'd have to shell out £20 for my tax disc, but I'd take the hit. I'd also be happier to live with the interior. The steering wheel on the Picanto reminds me of Papa Lazaru's mouth, from The League of Gentlemen.

I will, however, reserve judgement until after I've road tested one at my local dealer. It may look better in the flesh.

17 May 2011

Looks like a good litle car .

I recently Hired an i10 for a week and was very impressed by it . So this sister car will dobtless be as good . For all the Korean doubters out there I say dont knock it till you have tried it and keep in context .

ie a cheap runabout car that is refined and unlikely to go wrong .

17 May 2011

I believe the New Picanto can be a good car but a 1.2 seems out of place on a citycar. Funny that the VW Touran MPV also gets a 1.2-litre motor.

17 May 2011

Why would you want an i10 over this? The picanto looks a million times better than the i10, which to me, good though it is, is a granny car. I like the interior as well, smiling steering wheel apart lol


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