An au­to­matic choice

Its handy trans­mis­sion and sweet sus­pen­sion make the Pi­canto a no-frills, no-fuss run­about

Herald Sun - Motoring - - THE TICK -

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-

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