New Kia Picanto Hatchback

From £9,450

Gearbox

Automatic or Manual

Seats

5

Doors

5

Boot size

200 - 255 litres

The Auto Trader verdict
★★★★★
★★★★★
4.0
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. Its cabin may lack some design flair when compared to a Fiat 500, but the generous interior space means it can accommodate four folks in reasonable comfort, and there’s just about enough room in the boot to jam in the weekly shop.

Pros

  • Light and fun to drive
  • Surprisingly spacious
  • Feels planted on the motorway

Cons

  • The 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine needs to be whipped mercilessly when encountering inclines
  • Some of the interior plastics look and feel cheap
  • Larger 16-inch wheels degrade the ride quality

Full review

By Pete Tullin   Thursday 30 March 2017
2017 Kia Picanto

Exterior
★★★★★
★★★★★
4/5

While the size of almost every class of car we can think of has grown exponentially over the last few years, city car dimensions have remained resolutely unchanged, for obvious reasons. City cars are all about easy driving and ease of parking, rather than lashings of interior space, and the last thing anyone needs is a motor that won’t nip in and out of congested traffic or slot into a tight parking bay. Trouble is, when cars are this short, it’s difficult to come up with something that looks like anything other than a shoe box on wheels. To our eyes, the slightly bigger Fiat 500 is probably the only motor that successfully delivers compact dimensions with a brilliant design flair, but the Picanto’s riot of funky lines and creases mean it is probably the best of the rest. This is especially true if you spec the GT-Line, which adds slashed bumpers, a honeycombed grille, LED running lights, a shark’s fin roof antenna, lots of colour highlights, twin chromed exhaust tips, and funky 16-inch alloy wheels.

Interior
★★★★★
★★★★★
3/5

From the outside, the Picanto looks every inch the urban hipster’s accessory, so it’s even more disappointing when you swing open the door and see that things still look more like a budget rental car, than anything inspired by K-pop. There are some neat customising options available, including colour-coded door stripes and seat coverings, but the majority of trimmings are still made from hard, shiny plastics, while the door cards and centre console are tough enough to exfoliate the skin from your knees and elbows. While the dash has a rather odd, pot-bellied appearance, the vertical air vents that bookend the dashboard, look like left-over kitchen paraphernalia.

The good news is that all the switches are big, logically laid out, and have a reassuringly tight feel when you use them. The driving position is decent, too. Although the steering wheel is only adjustable for height, the seat height adjuster is cleverly placed at the front of the seat, so it’s much easier to use than in some city cars, whose adjusters are jammed so tightly between the seat and the doors, you end up scraping your knuckles every time you go to crank your seat up or down. High-end Picantos come with a 7.0-inch centrally mounted floating touch-screen, which among other functions, displays a sat-nav map. It’s fairly big and bold, but even Kia concedes most customers are likely to shirk away from this as they’ll already have a Tom Tom or some similar device.

Practicality
★★★★★
★★★★★
4/5

At this end of the market, you don’t have to stretch things too far to rocket to the best in class. Although its only millimeters larger than the outgoing model, Kia reckons the distance between the axles of the latest Picanto has been stretched, which gives it the most interior space of all city cars. Certainly, head- and leg-room up front is more than sufficient for a couple of adults, and there’s also enough width to enable you to sit comfortably without rubbing shoulders when cornering. The rear quarters are decent, too. Not surprisingly, leg-room is rather snug, but a couple of kids will have little reason to complain. The Picanto also boasts a decent sized boot. In practice, this means you’ll have no bother jamming in half a dozen 5p carrier bags full of food shopping, or perhaps even a trio of overhead locker-compliant travel cases. The rear seat backs also 60/40 split and fold, so it’ll be no bother if you want to lug those bin bags full of grass cuttings down to the local tip.

Ride and handling
★★★★★
★★★★★
4/5

This is probably the area where Kia’s engineers have made the biggest inroads. No doubt most customers will be more than happy with the way the Picanto copes with beaten up urban roads, especially if they stay away from the larger 16-inch wheels, and more than impressed by the way the car feels light and agile as it breezes its way in and out of traffic. What you may be surprised by is the fact the Picanto has a lot more in its locker when you come across a nice bit of meandering tarmac. While the steering is quick and direct and provides plenty of feel, the body is neatly controlled and there’s also loads of grip, so it’s an easy car to place on the road, and it is 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. You’ll have to put up with a bit more road and engine noise, but in most other respects, the Picanto feels as relaxed, and requires no more concentration to pilot at higher speeds than many larger cars.

Performance
★★★★★
★★★★★
3/5

Given the Picanto’s impressive ride and handling, we can’t wait to drive the more powerful 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine that will join the line up later this year. As things stand, the basic 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine is a truly underwhelming device. It’s a shame really, as no doubt many people will look at the official fuel figures and reckon that will be the engine for them. Unfortunately, it delivers so little performance – especially from low down in the rev range – you’ll need to drop a couple of gears and flog it for all its worth just to get it up the high street. Goodness only knows how many downshifts and how much of a run up you’ll need if you live somewhere like the Peak District.vIt’s just as well that the five-speed manual gearbox has a pleasingly light and accurate shift action. For these obvious reasons, we’d point you in the direction of the slightly larger 1.25-litre four-cylinder engine. It’s still no ball of fire: it’s quite boomy, and it’s prone to a few stutters as it works up through the rev range, but its extra oomph means you’ll stand at least some chance of climbing drawn out motorway inclines, even when you’re laden with a couple of passengers.

Running costs
★★★★★
★★★★★
5/5

As well as their dinky dimensions, city cars live or die by their running costs. On paper at least, the entry-level Kia Picanto is a lesson in frugality, although for the reasons we’ve explained in the performance section above, probably not so much in the real world. Of course, the taxman is only concerned with official figures, so the fact the entry Picanto offers an official economy of 70.6mpg, plus tax-busting CO2 emissions of 90g/km, can only be good news for those on a tight budget. Picanto residual values are also pretty strong, and selling them on is helped no end by a seven-year/100,000mile warranty, so you should get a fair chunk of your initial outlay back when you come to sell.

Reliability
★★★★★
★★★★★
5/5

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.

Safety
★★★★★
★★★★★
4/5

The standard Picanto gets what we’d describe as enough safety kit: six airbags (twin front, side and curtain), while an additional ‘bag to protect the driver’s knees is optional. Stability control and tyre pressure monitoring is standard across the whole range and in addition, the new Picanto uses electronics to ensure stability under braking and cornering, by detecting a loss in traction and tweaking the brakes to help the driver keep the car on course. It’s also available with Autonomous Emergency Braking to help enhance safety in urban environments. Although it hasn’t been tested under the latest regulations, it earned a four-star rating from Euro NCAP in 2011, scoring 86% for adult occupant protection and 83% for child protection.

Equipment
★★★★★
★★★★★
4/5

Equipment levels for the new Picanto have yet to be confirmed, but we suspect it will get a £500 price hike and add more technology and comfort kit over the outgoing model. We therefore expect all models to get air-conditioning, remote central locking, and power steering. Stepping up the range should add electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, and an upgrade in interior trim. Expect top end cars to get Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity, and steering wheel-mounted controls, climate control, ambient lighting and reversing sensors. While the 7-inch touch-screen brings sat-nav, live traffic updates and speed camera alerts, we expect the options list to include cruise control, a heated steering wheel, a rear-view camera, rear parking assistance and heated front seats. Along with its natty body kit and bigger alloys, GT-Line adds a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and sports seats.

Why buy?
★★★★★
★★★★★
4/5

In every respect the latest Picanto is light years ahead of its predecessor. It looks far more attractive, it’s bigger inside, infinitely better to drive, and far more refined. Yes, we’d like to have seen more interior quality improvements, but overall perhaps the biggest compliment we can pay the Picanto is it now feels as accomplished as many bigger superminis. Add in that low sticker price, class leading warranty, and minimal running costs, and it’s hard to think of many, if any, better rivals for this kind of money.

Our recommendations

From the range of the new Kia Picanto, these are the ones we suggest you look at

Pick of the range
Picanto 1.2
The larger engine’s additional pulling power is definitely worth the extra cash.
Most economical
1.0
Officially, it’s great on juice, but you’ll end up working the engine harder most of the time than the 1.2, so you’ll need to take those official figures with a pinch of salt.
Best avoided
1.2 GT-Line
Looks great, but those 16-inch wheels degrade the ride quality.
Choose your Kia Picanto

People also searched for

Information regarding the vehicle advertised is obtained from various sources, whilst we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, changes in pricing and the vehicle specification may have occurred since the content was published. Always check with the Dealer before entering into any agreement.