PERKY PICANTO PACKS PUNCH
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.