Along with the latest Rio and Optima, the new Picanto aims to shape Kia’s future. James Batchelor investigates.
WHAT IS IT?
This is the all-new version of Kia’s city car with a body penned by Peter Schreyer incorporating the now familiar ‘tiger’ family face, sharp creases down the flanks, vertical lights at the rear, and a quality cabin. The previous Picanto was not only a sales winner in the UK – it sold more than 300,000 units in Europe. A much sportier-looking three-door comes out later this year.
Two diminutive ‘Kappa’ petrol engines. Kicking off the range is a three-cylinder 1.0-litre unit with 68bhp which is perfect for town work but makes for slow and noisy progress on faster roads. Long-distance driving customers would be better suited to the four-cylinder 1.2-litre, as it features 84bhp. The unit makes for quite relaxing cruising while still being more than zippy enough in the city.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?
In the UK we’ll get three trim levels – namely 1, 2, and 3. Prices kick off at £7,995 for the 1, with buyers getting electric front windows, a tiltable steering wheel, twin airbags, body-coloured bumpers and door handles, and an MP3-compatible radio. The 3 tops the range and comes in at £11,195.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
All in all, we found it a very pleasant car to drive. The car is based on the Hyundai i10 platform, but gone is the i10’s chuckable handling. In its place is a chassis weighted more to the comfort side, which is no bad thing. A slick gearbox features but the steering is just a little too electrically assisted. None of this is likely to matter too much to the Picanto’s traditional female market though.
WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK OF IT?
Car Magazine found the Picanto to be ‘a very accomplished car, one that looks good and is fun to drive’. The magazine added that ‘we’d far sooner take the 1.25-litre car with a very basic specification than a three-cylinder model with a few toys’. Autocar thought the Picanto was ‘great’ and at £7,995 ‘there’s a whiff of a bargain about it’.
WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?
We rate this car highly. Gone are the slightly gawky looks of the old model and in comes a car that looks striking and very sharp. Kia design chief Schreyer calls the front end ‘pit bull-like.’ It’s a very convincing package with only a tight boot disappointing – although it is bigger than the outgoing Picanto. The three- door model will aim for new buyers – we’re looking forward to it.