What is it?
This Kia Picanto is potentially the last of a dying breed, if we’re being honest (and perhaps a bit dramatic).
The humble value-orientated city car has been on its way out for several years, meaning similarly diddy and affordable combustion-powered competitors for this facelifted version of Kia’s diminutive Picanto are now limited, essentially, to the closely related Hyundai i10, the endangered Volkswagen Up, the Fiat Panda and the Suzuki Ignis.
Each of those has been subject to a fairly comprehensive overhaul in the not-too-distant past, but this third-generation Picanto is still relatively fresh from the oven, so it receives only subtle tweaks for this round of updates. Design changes are reserved for the range-topping GT-Line and jacked-up X-Line cars, with the humble standard car making do with new personalisation options, a larger and slicker infotainment display (on applicable trims) and added safety kit.
More significant are revisions to the powertrain line-up. The old 1.2-litre naturally aspirated engine has been swapped out for a smaller 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit on all but the range-topping GT-Line and GT-Line S cars, which gain a zingier 99bhp turbo triple. The optional four-speed automatic gearbox is gone, too, making way for a new five-speed ‘automated manual’ unit which, if you’ll allow the tenuous and generous link, operates a bit like the old BMW M3’s SMG ’box (in principle, at least), although the five-speed manual remains an option at all levels.
Trims follow Kia's eminently sensible naming strategy: entry-level 1 keeps things simple with 14in steel wheels, keep-fit rear windows and black plastic body trim, while 2 trim brings a touch of chrome, electric mirrors and more ostensibly upmarket interior materials. Our test car was specified in mid-rung 3 trim, which brings such luxuries as LED indicators, colour-coded exterior trim, 15in alloy wheels, cruise control and automatic air conditioning.