Kia Picanto Review
Stylish and well-equipped, the Kia Picanto stands up well against the best city cars in its class
Strengths & weaknesses
- Industry-leading seven-year warranty
- Compact and stylish design
- High level of standard equipment
- Interior quality lower than rivals'
- Engines are weedy
- Higher-specification cars are expensive compared with rivals
The third-generation Kia Picanto has some tough competition in the city car market. Not only does it have to go up against the Volkswagen Up!, which is widely regarded as the class leader, but there are also identical (under the skin) versions from sister brands, the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii.
And then there’s the Hyundai i10, which shares its mechanical parts with the Picanto, plus the likes of the Fiat Panda, Vauxhall Viva and another trio of mechanically identical models the Toyota Aygo / Citroen C1 / Peugeot 108.
With so many strong rivals to beat for the buyers’ pound, the new Picanto has its work cut out. The good news for Kia is that it rises to the challenge.
Starting from the outside, the Picanto is a neat and squatly stylish little car, which looks robust, despite its compact proportions. If you opt for the GT-Line cars, there are additional sporty elements to the exterior design, which do add to its appearance.
Inside, the Picanto is built to a budget, unsurprisingly, but it’s not unpleasant. The plastics are hard, but a graining effect on them does create the impression that they’re more tactile than they actually are. The switchgear feels robust and if you opt for the 3 or GT-Line S, the 7-inch touchscreen adds quality and modernity, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for simple and familiar control of phone apps.
The Picanto’s clever packaging also means that the cabin is spacious enough for practical use, with average-sized adults able to sit in the rear without feeling cramped. The boot capacity has also gained an extra 55 litres, compared to the last generation, taking it up to a class-leading 255 litres – big enough to hold a couple of cabin cases.
On the road, the Picanto is fun to drive. The wheels have been pushed to the corners of the car, helping to give it a tight turning circle and making it feel quite nimble. It’s a car designed for urban environments and so it feels totally at home there, but even when out of its comfort zone on a twisting hilly road, the lack of power can help make it more engaging to drive, with lots of gear changes helping to involve the driver. It also steers accurately and rides well enough for a compact car.
Also ticking a valuable box is Kia’s seven-year warranty, which is unmatched by any of its rivals and ensures buyers’ peace of mind in case anything goes wrong.
With prices starting at £9,450 before discounts, the Picanto is competitive with its rivals and running costs should also be low, with fuel economy at 60+mpg and insurance groups ranging from 4 to 10.
Kia has come a long way from its budget car roots and the Picanto is testament to the success of its strategy to focus on building cars that chime with the exacting standards of European buyers. An accomplished city car, the Picanto is a strong contender in its class and worthy of consideration by buyers looking for a little runabout.
|Warranty||Seven years / 100,000 miles|
|Boot size||255 litres|
|Tax||£140 to £160 in first year, £140 thereafter|