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Expert Review

Kia Picanto hatchback (2017 - ) review

The Picanto is one very impressive city car that’s designed to steal sales from the likes of the Volkswagen Up, Renault Twingo and Fiat 500

The Auto Trader expert verdict:


Pound for pound, the Picanto is probably the best car Kia makes. While its compact dimensions, light controls and tight turning circle ensure it’s a doddle to drive around town and park in the tightest of spaces, it’s also an impressively stable car on the motorway, making it feel considerably more grown up than many of its rivals.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickLight and fun to drive
  • tickSurprisingly spacious
  • tickFeels planted on the motorway

At a glance:

Running costs for a Kia Picanto

As well as their dinky dimensions, city cars like the Picanto live or die by their running costs. Tax rules that used to favour cars like this with cheap Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) have now been skewed to hybrids instead so that advantage has gone, though you’ll still find the Picanto a cheap car to run and insure. Official fuel consumption is on a par with rivals like the Hyundai i10 it shares many parts with, the Volkswagen Up and the Toyota Aygo though, as with all, you may not get as close to that official fuel consumption figure as you’d hope. Picanto resale values are also pretty strong, and selling them on is helped no end by a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, so you should get a fair chunk of your initial outlay back when you come to sell.
Expert rating: 4/5

Reliability of a Kia Picanto

The Kia Picanto is a brilliant example of hassle-free, peace-of-mind motoring. The previous-generation model was voted the UK’s most reliable new car by consumer champions Which?, and this version is backed by the reassurance of a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. However, you need to be aware there are some notable exceptions in the cover, something you should investigate fully before signing on the dotted line.
Expert rating: 5/5

Safety for a Kia Picanto

The standard Picanto gets what we’d describe as enough safety kit, including six airbags (front, side and curtain), hill-start assistance, tyre pressure monitoring, Isofix childseat mounts in the back and side impact protection. An Advanced Driving Assistance Pack is optional on lower grades (and standard on higher ones) and includes a warning system if you don’t respond to stationary hazards in your path with automatic braking if you still don’t react. Impressive tech on a small car like this, though it’s worth pointing out the newer i10 has all this and more as standard.
Expert rating: 4/5

How comfortable is the Kia Picanto

Stay away from the larger 16-inch wheel option and you’ll be impressed with the way the Picanto handles bumpy urban streets, likewise its lightness and agility through traffic. Even better, the Picanto has more in its locker when it comes to the open road. The steering is light (but not too light), the body is neatly controlled and there’s also loads of grip, so it’s an easy car to place on the road, and a bit of a hoot when buzzing through a series of tight bends. If you need to embark on a longer motorway slog, the Picanto feels impressively planted and secure for a car of this size. The interior may be a little plain compared with the more extrovert looks outside but it’s functionally excellent, which helps reduce stress levels at the wheel. The driving position is decent and the switches are big, easy to use and logically laid out. It’s obviously not a big car but there’s decent space up front and room in the back for a couple of kids. The boot is big enough for a week’s shopping too and if you need more space for a tip run or the like the seats fold down fully or with a 60/40 split as required.
Expert rating: 4/5

Features of the Kia Picanto

The entry-level trim comes with remote locking and electric front windows, but very little else. You don’t even get a Bluetooth phone connection on the basic car. You do with the next level up, along with powered rear windows, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and audio controls on the steering wheel. Well worth the upgrade, in our opinion. In the usual way equipment gets steadily more generous as you progress up the trim levels, with touch-screen controlled infotainment (and smartphone connectivity to run your apps) and, on top spec cars, factory-fitted navigation, reversing camera and more. Kia offers little flexibility to tailor the spec with options so you tend to have to choose a trim level with the features you want and be done with it.
Expert rating: 4/5

Power for a Kia Picanto

There are three engine options for the Picanto – all petrol – and having driven the entry-level one we would recommend considering the more powerful options instead. The basic engine looks good on paper in terms of its fuel consumption but, in reality, is so lacking in power any advantages will be lost as you drop a couple of gears just to flog it up the high street. We’ve not driven the most powerful of the three, that being the 1.0 turbo (known as T-GDi in Kia’s lingo) but the mid-range 1.25-litre at least has the power to deal with uphill gradients without having to work the gearbox too much. It’s not the most refined but it gets the job done. If you regularly travel on motorways or with a full complement of passengers this or the turbo engine would get our vote.
Expert rating: 3/5

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