PERKY PICANTO PACKS PUNCH

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill Buys

PICANTO has a cute sound to it, and it is in­deed a cutie on the road too.

For some years the su­per­com­pact has been a pop­u­lar car in for­eign mar­kets and though only re­cently re­leased in Aus­tralia it made an im­me­di­ate im­pact, hand­somely lead­ing its mar­ket sec­tor in the first month of its launch.

Un­like most mod­els, which come in man­ual, au­to­matic, petrol, diesel, two or four doors, var­i­ous lev­els of trim and other op­tions, the sole choice in the Picanto is colour.

They’re all five-door hatches, fit­ted with a 63kW/120Nm 1.2litre four-cylin­der petrol motor that drives the front wheels via a four­speed au­to­matic.

And colour choice isn't huge ei­ther: seven in all.

Priced at $14,990 drive-away, the lit­tle car comes with cloth seat trim, air­con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows, power mir­rors, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, il­lu­mi­nated glove­box, steer­ing wheel au­dio con­trols, trip com­puter, chrome trim high­lights, 14-inch steel wheels, a five-star safety rat­ing and a sev­enyear war­ranty.

Also stan­dard are rear park­ing sen­sors, a tilt-ad­justable steer­ing wheel, trip com­puter and lots of on­board stor­age.

For the so-called in­fo­tain­ment there's a four-speaker CD/AM/ FM/MP3 player, Blue­tooth phone and au­dio con­nec­tiv­ity, and USB and Aux in­puts, which all up amounts to a lot in a small pack­age.

Hop in be­hind the wheel and it doesn't feel like a shoe­box on wheels. In­stead, there's pretty de­cent com­fort and ac­com­mo­da­tion, nat­u­rally a tad tighter in the back, but head­room is gen­er­ous, and if the back seat isn't be­ing used it can be folded flat to boost boot space from 200 to 605litres.

Its imp­ish styling is ac­tu­ally more aero­dy­namic than one would think and its drag co­ef­fi­cient of 0.31 is bet­ter than most in its class and a lot of big­ger, pricier cars.

Safety-wise, there are six airbags, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, anti-lock brakes trac­tion con­trol and a ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity man­age­ment sys­tem.

Clearly aimed at the com­muter mar­ket, the Picanto also de­liv­ers in per­for­mance. It has im­pres­sive ac­cel­er­a­tion and cruises along mer­rily at the state limit on open roads.

Fuel econ­omy is a claimed av­er­age of 5.6litres/100km, which we came pretty close to on our usual mix of ur­ban, sub­ur­ban and coun­try roads with 6.1/100km.

Its smooth-shift­ing auto trans­mis­sion did a good job and it han­dled tight bends in fine style.

There's a lot to like in this well­built lit­tle car.

I loved it when I first drove one in Korea a cou­ple of years ago and the same feel­ing's still there.

Ver­dict: A classy lit­tle num­ber that’ll put a smile on many a dial.

You will fall in love with the cute new Picanto.

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