All grown up
Kia have raised their game with the new Picanto as finds out
Kia’s ambitions are clear. Each new generation of its cars has seen a significant raft of improvements over the last and the Picanto is no exception.
There’s no three-door version, Kia have decided to sell the mkIII in five-door configuration only.
It’s footprint is exactly the same as the outgoing model but passenger space has been improved by adding 5mm to its height and increasing the space between the wheels by 15mm.
The front overhang has been shortened while the rear overhang is longer to improve luggage space which is now up to a class-leading 255 litres. Fold the rear seats away and space rises to 1,010 litres.
The waistline has been lowered to create a lighter, airier cabin, the dashboard is slimmer and the seats are sited lower and further back.
The range consists of, 1, 2 and 3 plus the flagship GT Line. The base model includes auto headlights, electric front windows and radio with USB and aux inputs. I tested the 2 spec model, which adds aircon, rear electric windows, Bluetooth connectivity, heated mirrors, 14in alloys and bodycoloured exterior trim to the mix.
The 3 is equipped with 15in alloys, autonomous emergency braking, door-mounted LED indicators, electric folding mirrors, seven-inch touchscreen sat nav with DAB, six-speaker audio system and rear parking camera.
The GT Line dispenses with the touchscreen but adds another inch to the alloys and a sporty body kit while the GT Line S reintroduces the touchscreen, plus heated seats and steering wheel, electric sunroof and wireless phone charging.
There are three petrol engines to choose from: A 66bhp 1.0-litre 3-cylinder unit that powered my test car, a 4-cylinder 1.25-litre engine with 84bhp and a turbocharged 3-cyclinder power plant with 99bhp on tap. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard but you can opt for a four-speed auto with the 1.25.
As well as increasing passenger space, the changes to the wheelbase have also improved manoeuvrability, essential to a city car’s appeal, with a tighter turning circle meaning that the new Picanto is absolutely in its element on congested streets. It’s well-judged controls, nicely weighted steering and fleet- footed handling make light work of urban driving.
The Picanto is as much an inter-city car as it is city car. You can tackle longer journeys with ease thanks to excellent refinement if not great pace. The 66bhp unit in my test car takes a leisurely 14.3 seconds to reach 62mph.
The changes have given the new Picanto a more mature, grown-up personality from behind the wheel.
It’s agile and responds accurately to steering inputs, although the lack of power does mean you’ll have to work the slick five-speed manual quite hard to keep the pace up.
The quality in the cabin is very good. It’s a little uninspiring unless you opt for one of the colour packs.
You do feel as though you are perched on the seats, rather than in them, but they are comfortable and supportive. There isn’t a great amount of flexibility in the seating and steering column positions but what there is should be enough for the vast majority of motorists. The dashboard has been raised by 15mm to improve kneeroom.
Visibility is excellent and there’s a reasonable amount of storage, with decent-sized door pockets and glovebox. There’s a couple of cup holders ahead of the gear lever too.
The Picanto retains its predecessor’s compact dimensions but is more spacious. It’s good to drive and the equipment list is generous. You also get Kia’s seven-year warranty for good measure.
If you’re looking for a capable city runabout that’s not afraid of a long slog, look no further.