An automatic choice
Its handy transmission and sweet suspension make the Picanto a no-frills, no-fuss runabout
GREAT value, safe, economical and loaded with standard equipment, Kia’s Picanto is also proof that a tiddler can do the job when you’re looking for a car that does its transport tasks without any excessive frills.
The Picanto made a very positive impression when I drove it during the Australian press preview, particularly as my focus was on the $13,990 drive-away price for the basic five-speed manual.
I’ve had the four-speed auto at home, covered The Tick course and it’s even more appealing, though the price blows out to $15,690 on the road.
Let’s set one thing straight from the outset — the auto is the better choice in the Picanto. It keeps the engine working better for more of the time and allows the car to flow easily with the traffic or hold 110km/h on the highway without me having to row frantically through the manual gearbox.
The new Picanto is actually the old Picanto, but with a visual update and a new focus.
The 2017 version gets the gear to suit first-car buyers as well as retirement-age drivers who want a no-fuss runabout for a couple of people who are past their outback touring days.
As with almost everything sold in Australia today, aircon and power steering are standard.
The Picanto adds a rear-view camera — which Mazda leaves out of its base models — plus cruise control and seven-inch infotainment screen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity.
Kia calls it the thirdgeneration Picanto and touts a new body that, though it looks much like the old one, frees up more space and comfort in the front seats.
One of the best things is suspension that’s tuned for Australia, just like every Kia model, and allows the car to ride smoothly with pleasingly low levels of noise and harshness.
In the tiddler class, officially called “light cars”, sales are dropping dramatically.
Against the trend, the Picanto is a winner. It doesn’t have much opposition but 200300 people a month are happy to take one home.
Mechanically, the Picanto is nothing special with a 1.25-litre four-cylinder engine (62kW/ 122Nm) carried over from the previous model driving the front wheels.
It misses out on the three-