It is no ball of fire, but it is gutsy and pleasant to drive...
Small cars are big news on the motoring scene and are increasingly benefitting from big car features cascading down the model range. The Kia Picanto is a prime example, proving that being modestly sized does not mean bare and basic. The baby Kia is a small car with a big heart, thoughtfully equipped and nicely mannered on the road. It may be the baby of the range, but it has a remarkably grown-up feel behind the wheel.
The car’s stylish body, with its pert shape, distinctive front end and ‘tiger nose’ grille, is the work of Kia’s German-born design chief Peter Shreyer. Underneath, the Picanto has the same basic structure and engines as the Hyundai i10, made by Kia’s Korean sister company. Picanto is the name by which the car is known in Britain and across Europe, but it is a global model that wears different badges around the world. Far East motorists know it as the Kia Morning.
The Picanto is available with either three or five doors, with a one-litre (68 bhp) or 1.2 litre (86 bhp) petrol engine, and with a choice of trim options called 1, 2 and 3. The car we test here is a Picanto 1 five-door with the one-litre engine. Prices start from £7,795 for a Picanto 1 three-door 1.0 and rise to £11,195 for a Picanto 3 five-door 1.2. The standard gearbox is a five-speed manual, and the car is also available with a four-speed auto transmission.
At the heart of the Picanto is a 998 cc, three-cylinder, 12-valve engine with a 68 bhp power output and 70 lb ft of torque. The gearbox is a zippy five-speed manual. Although modestly powered, the car’s small size and relatively light weight mean that it is quite a nippy performer around town, and has a respectable turn of speed out on the open road. It is no ball of fire, but it is gutsy and pleasant to drive. It has a 95 mph top speed and its acceleration time is around 14 seconds.
With fuel economy in the upper-60s mpg on the official combined fuel cycle, the Picanto’s petrol thirst should be pretty reasonable. A sub-100 g/km CO2 output puts it in band A for Vehicle Excise Duty, so the annual tax disc is free.