Kia Picanto hatchback (2004-2011)
“Low running costs, smart looks and space for four people make the Kia Picanto a great city car.”
- High roof equates to feeling of space
- Light controls: easy to drive and park
- Very cheap to fuel and insure
- Base model has a budget feel
- Petrol engines struggle on motorway
- Lack of driving position adjustment
The Kia Picanto doesn’t pretend to do anything clever; it’s a cheap and cheerful four-person runabout. As long as those four people don’t have too many bags, because the boot is tiny, and you’re not planning many long motorway trips, the Picanto will perform admirably. Its two petrol engine options are only 4bhp apart, oddly, and they're both better below 60mph or so. However, the car’s small turning circle, good visibility, abundant headroom and comfortable seats make it a sensible buy. There’s the seven-year warranty too, which is particularly brilliant for an inexpensive little car.
MPG, running costs & CO2
There’s no diesel option, but both petrol engines return 58.8mpg combined economy. That's not particularly groundbreaking these days, but you’ll still cover plenty of miles between fill-ups. The Picanto's insurance rating is very low too, and resale values are actually quite good - it should hold on to 40 per cent of its value after three years.
Engines, drive & performance
With light, accurate steering and an admirable ability to smooth out city roads, the Picanto feels right at home around town. It does lean a lot during cornering, but at low speeds, good visibility and light controls make parking and manoeuvring simple. The 1.1-litre engine can also be had with an automatic gearbox, which makes the Picanto even simpler to drive - just don’t expect quick overtaking.
Interior & comfort
Neither of the Picanto’s two petrol engines - a 60bhp 1.0-litre and a 64bhp 1.1-litre – runs particularly smoothly. Both sound coarse when revved hard. The two engines are perfectly suited to driving around town, though, which is where they’ll spend most of their time. On the motorway there’s plenty of road and wind noise to contend with. Certainly, the Picanto feels more at home at low speed.
Practicality & boot space
All Kia Picantos have a split-folding rear seat, which is easy to fold down, but the boot itself is a tiny 157 litres. Compare that to the VW Fox’s 260 litres. The cabin isn’t designed for cubbyhole space either, although there is a pair of cup holders and the glovebox is square and quite big.
Reliability & safety
Kia’s seven-year warranty, although limited to 100,000 miles, offers genuine peace of mind. All the Picanto’s plastics are decent to look at, and overall, quality is good. There’ll be few noticeable creaks and rattles on the move. Its Euro NCAP rating is an average three stars for adult protection, although it scores a better four for child safety.
Price, value for money & options
Like most Kias, the Picanto scores highly for value, and although the entry-level model really does feel basic - air-conditioning and remote central locking aren't included - the other versions have those things. Still, it’s one of the cheapest new cars on sale.