Kia Picanto hatchback
Price: £8,045 - £12,345
- Attractive price and long warranty
- Smooth drive
- Generously equipped
- Jerky brakes and clutch
- Lacks badge appeal
- Excessive body roll
"Unless you’re on a very tight budget, we’d go for the Kia Picanto with the 1.25-litre engine, fitted with stop-start."
The second-generation Kia Picanto is better quality and more stylish than the old one but more expensive as a result. A genuine rival for the Hyundai i10, Fiat 500 and Ford Ka, the Picanto's small dimensions have a bolder, more premium feel thanks to a chunkier design, while the clearly laid-out interior now looks classier and more expensive than ever.
The Picanto comes with the choice of three or five doors, the former sacrificing some practicality for a sportier look. There's also more space inside the new model thanks to its longer body, while the boot is a lot bigger and can carry a lot more luggage.
Two reasonably quiet petrol engines are on offer, both of which are at their best in town.
The Picanto is available in nine main specifications - the entry-level 1, then 1 Air, 2, 3 for the five-door, then 1, 1 Air, White, Equinox and City models. All specs of Picanto are well equipped, with the mid-range 2 cars coming with alloy wheels, electric windows and Bluetooth connectivity fitted as standard.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Economical engines make it cheap to buy and run
Thanks to two really efficient engines, the Picanto is cheap to run. The 68bhp 1.0-litre petrol returns 67.3mpg in combined fuel economy and emits only 99g/km of CO2, making it exempt from annual road tax. Even the larger 1.25-litre engine returns 60mpg in economy and emits 109g/km – which can be further improved up to 65.7mpg combined economy and a tax avoiding 100g/km by incorporating Kia's EcoDynamics stop-start technology. Equally low insurance and Kia's excellent seven-year/100,000-mile warranty only further boost the Picanto's appeal.
Interior & comfort
The current Picanto is quiet and spacious inside
The Picanto's larger dimensions provide a lot more room inside than the car it replaced, with significantly more legroom. The seats are also generally improved, with greater back support. There's also better headroom in the back, with enough space for most adults to sit comfortably.
Most road and wind noise is held at bay by good sound insulation, but the three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine emits a distinctive and intrusive whirring sound if you push it. Overall, the ride is comfy enough, but the suspension can feel firm and it doesn’t always prevent body roll through some of the sharper corners - not really a good balance.
Practicality & boot space
Roomy up front, but the rear seats are cramped
The five-door model of the Picanto is obviously the more practical, its longer wheelbase making it much easier to get to the back seats – all of which are noticeably more comfortable and supportive.
Disappointingly, the steering wheel can only be adjusted for rake but not reach.
There's more space in the front, with more leg and headroom, but the back is undeniably more cramped. The new Picanto offers nearly 50 litres more boot space than the previous model, with 200 litres overall. The standard-fit 60:40 split-fold rear seats fold down flat to expand the boot space to 870 litres and the boot opening makes loading very. There are numerous storage compartments dotted about, including a decent-sized glove compartment. Mid-range models and above also get a handy twin cup holder positioned underneath the centre console.
Reliability & safety
Superb seven-year warranty and improved safety features
The 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey saw Kia continue to improve, climbing a further five places to rank seventh out of 32 in the manufacturers rankings. The second-generation Picanto made its debut in the survey by ranking 68th in the list of the top 100 cars, with poor performance and reduced practicality counting against it – both common in small cars.
You can expect the Picanto to be pretty durable, even though some of the plastics are decidedly cheap in places. Thankfully, the overall fit and finish is good. It's worth noting that the Picanto only managed to get a four-staring rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, due to entry-level European-specification models not being equipped with electronic stability control (ESP) as standard. However, UK models do come fitted with stability control, six airbags and ISOFIX child-seat anchor points as standard. Also, Kia's standard seven-year/100,000-mile warranty shows its genuine faith in the quality of its cars.
Engines, drive & performance
Punchy 1.25-litre car is easy to drive in town and competent on the motorway
You get two petrol engines to choose from in the Picanto, and we’d go for the 84bhp 1.25-litre model combined with the optional EcoDynamics stop-start system to further increase fuel economy. Both engines are hushed and smooth, but the 69bhp 1.0-litre version feels underpowered on the motorway or when trying to overtake. The bigger engine copes much better and you don’t have to shift down the gears to climb steep hills in the 1.25-litre. The steering is as light and reactive as you’d expect in any small car but the brakes are too responsive, often bringing the car to an abrupt stop, making rivals such as the Hyundai i10 much easier to drive. Accelerating out of a tight or busy junction slightly too quickly can often cause the front tyres to lose grip.
Price, value for money & options
Extensive equipment list and competitively priced
You can now get a Dacia Sandero for much less money than a Picanto, but you won’t get anywhere near the same level of equipment and accessories. The entry-level 1 Air model comes fitted with air-conditioning, daytime running lights, CD stereo with MP3 connectivity, trip computer, hill-start assist, and electric windows all as standard. The next model up, the 2, adds USB and Bluetooth connectivity, electric rear windows, steering-wheel-mounted controls, front fog lights and heated door mirrors. The top-of-the-range 3 gives you LED daytime running lights, climate control, a six-speaker stereo and 15-inch alloy wheels.
The class-leading seven-year/100,000-mile warranty significantly adds to the great value of the Picanto and it should hold up to 45 per cent of its original list price after three years of ownership thanks to its increasingly strong resale value.
What the others say
"While the previous car had a budget feel, you can’t say the same of the new one. Bold, chunky styling and sculpted lines help to create a premium look, as do the optional LED headlights and tail-lamps. Inside, there's a classy layout with materials that now at least look expensive, even if they can feel a bit scratchy on further inspection."
"The boot's high sill makes loading bulky items a challenge but, generally, the car feels bigger and more substantial even if it measures up more or less the same as before. Luggage capacity is up 43 litres and Kia claims more front-seat legroom too."
"The Picanto has nothing that identifies it as Korean either outside or inside - no extra bits of chrome or gaudy add-ons. In fact, if Audi had to come up with a sub-£10K city car, it might very well look like this."
Last updated: 7 Feb 2014