A mini you can afford
A quick look online confirms the Picanto has shaken up the already volatile micro-car segment. Launched with a compelling $14,990 drive-away price and relatively high levels of standard kit, the baby Kia has forced its rivals to respond with their own drive-away discounts. The Picanto is still the only car in this class with a default automatic transmission and also comes with rear parking sensors, power windows front and rear and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. Any colour other than white will add $520. The seats are brilliant, the driving position slightly less so. The driver’s footrest is set too far left to the point where I preferred to plant my left shoe between the footrest and the brake. Your idea of pleasure is somewhat perverted if you insist on putting three in the back seat: the knee and headroom are OK but you’ll need slim-shouldered bodies to get three abreast. Ride quality is better than average for the class but not quite as good as the Holden Spark. A five-star result for the Picanto isn’t bad considering the car has been on sale overseas since 2011 (a new model is due next year). Six airbags are par for the class but the four-wheel disc brakes set the Kia apart from rivals fitted with rear drums. As a suburban runabout, the Picanto takes some beating. Light steering, tight turning circle and reasonable off-theline urge make it an ideal car for singles or couples who want an efficient, effective commute. Another cog in the four-speed auto would make the Picanto a genuine highway cruiser. It still performs on the freeway but a hefty right foot is required on hills to encourage the transmission to shift down. The engine is willing to rev out and the sound from the 1.25-litre mill isn’t offensive under load. Over 200km of city and arterial road routes, Carsguide matched the claimed 5.3L/100km. The main opposition comes in the form of the Holden Spark, Suzuki Celerio and Mitsubishi Mirage, all with drive-away deals until the end of the month to try to counter the Picanto’s arrival. Be aware the deals are for manual transmission versions, which won’t suit the majority of buyers. The Celerio costs $12,990 drive-away, making it the main threat, but it only seats four and has a fourstar safety rating. The Mirage costs $13,990 (with the first three annual services free) and the Spark matches the Picanto’s $14,990 tag but in manual guise. The Picanto stands out among the contracting micro-car segment with a mix of decent styling, better than expected performance and seven-year warranty with capped price servicing $2345 over that time.