Road Test: Kia Picanto


Chris Dell

The Picanto is a well-known and much-liked model that has earned itself a good reputation over the years. It benefited from an upgrade last year, with changes including new bumpers front and rear and a new grille. As a result it now looks decidedly smarter.

Three-door and five-door body styles are offered and trim levels run from the entry-level ‘1 Air’ to the range-topping ‘4’. 

There’s a choice of petrol engines – a 68hp one-litre or an 84hp 1.25 – but there’s no diesel option. 

The one-litre is fine if you just want a car for local work, but if you're planning any longer trips, or want to be able to climb hills without a torrent of down-changes, the larger engine is the one to go for, and there’s very little difference in fuel economy.

The entry-level model costs £8,545 on-the-road but despite the bargain-basement price tag this is no stripped-down-to-the-basics option, as underlined by the fact that it comes with electric front windows, driver’s seat height adjustment and a 60/40 folding rear seat.

We drove a high-end model with the larger engine, which we found to be well-equipped, especially compared to other models of a similar size. Features included electric windows all round, cruise control, electric mirrors and privacy glass! It’s an impressive list and inevitably it comes at a cost, and a Sport would set you back £11,995 on-the-road, or £12,595 if you specified automatic transmission. 

Although Kia’s Picanto is sometimes referred to as a ‘city car’, we found that the 1.25-litre model was more capable than this description might suggest. It’s obviously no racing car, but it handled tidily enough at routine speeds and there was more than enough performance to keep with the normal flow of traffic.

At modest speeds it was an easy car to drive, but small cars with small wheels do tend to pick up the humps and bumps of mediocre road surfaces and this Picanto was no exception. Unsurprisingly, it was delightfully easy to park.

Running costs are obviously important, particularly on a car of this type, and in general use we saw about 52mpg. It’s worth noting that Kia offer a fixed-price prepayment deal for the first few services, which can help buyers to budget.

Hopefully you would never need to make use of it, but if something does go wrong, the Picanto comes with Kia’s usual seven-year 100,000-mile warranty, which should help provide buyers with peace of mind. 

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