In the name of Love
The first Kia I ever drove was the Pride, which was basically a Mazda in disguise. Featuring white-walled tyres, no power steering, an incredibly basic interior & a low entry price point, the Pride in it’s own way was quite successful, especially with driving instructors. Twenty five years have passed since then & recently Kia launched the third generation of their super-mini the Picanto, which was originally launched back in 2004. The latest version has left behind not only the drab Pride, but the poorly equipped first version of the Picanto, as well the better looking Mk2, replacing these with a more attractive, higher quality, better equipped car, featuring more space for passengers & a better driving experience.
The Mk3 Picanto is only available with five doors & the model line-up follows the rest of the brand’s range, starting with entry-level ‘1’ , stepping up through ‘2’ & ‘3’, with the top of the range GT at the top.
Standard equipment even on the base model ‘1’ is good & includes electric front windows, DAB radio with USB & AUX in connections, mono audio display with RDS, hill start assist & auto headlights. We tested the ‘2’ , which adds air-con, rear electric windows, Bluetooth with music streaming, tinted glass, heated mirrors & 14” alloys.
‘3’ spec comes with 15″ alloys, autonomous emergency braking, door-mounted LED indicators, electric folding mirrors, a 7″ touchscreen SatNav with DAB, a six-speaker audio system & a rear parking camera. GT-Line lose the touchscreen but adds 16″ alloys & a sporty bodykit, while flagship GT-Line S adds in the touchscreen, heated seats & steering wheel, an electric sunroof & wireless phone charging.
Three engines are available: a 66bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder; a more powerful four-cylinder 1.2 with 84bhp & a turbocharged unit will join the range before the end of 2017. All cars come with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the 1.2 also offered with a four-speed auto.
Our test car was the Picanto ’2’ 1.0 litre which competes in a busy sector & is up against the likes of the VW up!, Skoda Citigo, Seat Mii, Hyundai i10, Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 106, Renault Twingo & SMART forfour.
From the outside the Picanto looks cute. The raised front lights & narrow tiger grille are smart & at the rear, there are wraparound lights on the tailgate. The wide black centre to the bumper & rear window offer the illusion of width, making the car look larger than it actually is. While it’s no longer overall, it has an extended wheelbase & the shorter overhang gives the Picanto a more dynamic look & again adds to it’s attractiveness.
Inside, quality has improved. The seat fabric, dash finish & switchgear are noticeably improved. To lift things further, buyers can opt for one of several interior colour packs to brighten up the cabin.
Super-mini city cars are by their very definition not spacious, but the latest Picanto also impresses here. Front & rear access is good. There are two seating configurations; with the four-seat model saving 10g/km of CO2. We tested the five-seat car which offers the option of carrying an extra passenger, although accommodating three adults in the back would be a real squeeze. Cabin storage features a small central armrest, two usable doorbins a decent glovebox & a couple of cupholders in front of of the gear lever. There’s a 255-litre boot as well which increases to an impressive class-leading 1,010 litres with the rear seats folded.
Out & about on the lanes of north Cheshire, the Picanto is loads of fun. Steering & gear box work as one & it’s agility is definitely on show. As a city car its would be perfect. The 1.0 litre 66bhp engine unsurprisingly needs working, with a 0-60mph time of 13.8 seconds & maximum torque kicking in at 5,500 rpm. Inclines are most definitely hard work .What’s really improved over the last model though, is the refinement of the new model, especially on the motorway. Get up to 70mph & it will sit happily in the moving traffic & outside wind & road noise in the cabin have been reduced as well.
Costing just £10,750 OTR the Picanto is both cheap to buy & cheap to run, with a claimed combined fuel economy of 64.2 mpg ( we averaged 54.2mpg ) & CO2 emissions of 101g/km. Overall, the latest Picanto is a winner & it will only make the decision of buyers of cars in it’s sector even more difficult.
A Big John Little John 3.5/5.