Looks can be deceiving! It’s small on the outside, but step inside the Picanto and there’s simply bags of room. New Picanto is big on style, big on space and big on economy too. It’s bursting with character and is a worthy choice in the city car segment. Now available in rugged X-Line styling.
The goodA great all-round package that is outstanding value
The badUp against strong opposition
Kia Picanto X-Line 1.25 Manual – First Drive (2018)
KIA has just launched a beefed up version of its popular city car – it’s called the Picanto X-Line and it draws its inspiration from the Korean company’s outstanding SUV line-up.
The X-Line is powered by a 1.25-litre 85bhp petrol engine mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox and this new arrival is priced from £12,595 (£13,245 for the auto version).
But anyone who thinks this may be a simple re-badging exercise needs to check out the new model because it boasts a raft of rugged design cues. And it’s had quite a growth spurt too as the Picanto X-Line is 77mm longer, 30mm wider and 15mm taller than the standard car, and whilst Kia is quick to point out that it is not a full-blown SUV, it does widen the Picanto’s appeal to a customer-base that has gone crossover crazy in recent years.
The X-Line also features a number of eye-catching design cues including SUV-styled bumpers with metal-look skid plates at the front and rear, lime green highlights around the grille and fog lights, black cladding around the wheel arches and side sills, plus privacy glass to the rear windows and tailgate, body-coloured door handles and a shark fin antenna. Projection headlights with LED daytime running lights, 16-inch alloys and twin tailpipes complete the more muscular look.
The funky colour splashes are carried over into the interior of the Picanto X-Line with lime green stitching on the armrests, gear lever and sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel.
As is the norm with the Kia marque, the car is packed with techno treats which are all included in the asking price. Features include a 7.0-inch floating touchscreen with DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and full connectivity capabilities via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. There is smart faux leather upholstery, metal pedals, air conditioning, cruise control with a speed limiter and keyless entry.
When it comes to practicality, the five-door Picanto X-Line offers plenty of cabin space with a boot capacity ranging from 255 litres to 1,010 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. Elsewhere, there are cup holders, a glovebox, central bin and door pockets to store away bits and bobs.
The car offers more leg and headroom than rivals in its class, but as is the norm in compact city cars, adults would still struggle for leg room in the back. That said; it is ideal for a couple of youngsters and as Kia pointed out, the Picanto X-Line is not intended to be a fully grown SUV.
We put the manual version to the test and it passed with flying colours. It could reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.6 seconds, topped out at 107mph and, according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 61.4mpg with carbon emissions of 106g/km.
When it comes to performance, the Picanto X-Line is a little fire-cracker of a car. It fizzes around congested town centres shifting up and down through the gears with ease and there is ample power on tap from the four cylinder 1.25-litre engine.
The driver benefits from good all-round visibility and the rearview camera helps to make light work of any parking issues.
Then when faced with the open road and country lanes, the sharp precise steering, good acceleration and confident road-holding make the Picanto X-Line great fun to drive. It is also a car that can sit comfortably at 70mph on a motorway without any frightening shakes or engine groans.
Compared to the standard Picanto, the ride is a little less forgiving due to the fact that the car sits on 16-inch wheels – so expect to feel the occasional bump and jolt along the way. However, noise levels within the cabin are fairly refined until the car is driven particularly hard.
The latest Picanto features a host of safety specifications and Kia proudly claims it is the safest A-segment car the company has ever produced. The body comprises advanced high strength steel and there are six airbags. Active safety features include vehicle stability management with electronic stability control. In addition the X-Line boasts autonomous emergency braking which can bring the vehicle to a complete standstill at speeds up to 50mph and to a partial stop at higher speeds.
So all in all, the new Picanto on the block certainly has plenty of appeal. It looks more robust without appearing too boisterous, it has a powerful little engine, delivers good all-round performance, is competitively priced, boasts all the latest mod cons and, of course, comes with the best guarantee in the business – Kia’s seven-year, 100,000 miles warranty.
Kia Picanto (2017) – first drive
We live in a day and age when the car buying public simply can’t get enough of crossovers and SUVs, but it’s worth remembering that the city car still plays a very significant part in everyday lifestyles.
In fact, in the UK alone the A-segment accounts for about 130,000 sales every year so getting the perfect blend of size, practicality, styling, technology and performance can be quite the juggling act.
But it would appear that Kia has achieved the impossible with its latest all-new third generation Picanto, which is priced between £9,450 and £13,950.
At launch, there are refined versions of the 1.0-litre 66bhp and 1.25-litre 83bhp normally aspirated petrol engines with improved economy of up to 64.2mpg and lowered carbon emissions from 101g/km. Then later this year Kia will introduce a third 99bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi turbocharged powertrain to the mix.
New Picanto is available in five trim levels called ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘GT-Line’, ‘3’ and ‘GT-Line S’ and all cars now have five doors as there was very little demand for three-door models.
It’s imperative that designers strike exactly the right balance when considering the size of city car as it must be able to manoeuvre with ease through busy traffic, squeeze into tight parking spaces, yet it still needs to offer all the practicality required with room for four adults along with good storage options.
And Kia has been exceptionally clever when addressing that conundrum. For despite still boasting the exact dimensions on the outside (3,595mm length and 1,595mm width), the new Picanto offers improved passenger and luggage space. It is 5mm taller than its predecessor and the wheelbase is 15mm longer and that translates into extra room for occupants plus an increased boot capacity of 255 litres making it the best-in-class.
But numbers and dimensions aside, the car boasts a sportier stance thanks to a wider grille and air intakes flanked by neat light clusters. At the rear, there are larger C-shaped lights and the waistline is lower and flatter to accentuate the athletic styling.
Step inside and Picanto adopts Kia’s more recent styling essence of a horizontally-structured dashboard split into display and control areas which are separated by a smart chrome strip. The vertical air vents each end of the dashboard act as bookends and also help to convey a wide design ethos.
The seats are lower to the ground and positioned slightly further back so the front occupants benefit from extra head, leg and shoulder space while the room in the back is virtually the same as on the outgoing model.
In addition, the introduction of more elegant and upmarket materials and trim help to give the Picanto a more sophisticated and premium feel and, of course, there is wealth of on-board technology to explore.
All models are richly equipped with good levels of kit as standard. For example, entry level 1 models feature tinted glass, a two-speaker radio with aux and USB ports, remote locking, a tilt adjustable steering wheel, automatic lights, electric front windows and a number of safety aids.
Move up to level 2 – which Kia believes will be the biggest seller – and you will see the likes of air conditioning, Bluetooth with music streaming, leather-trimmed gearstick and steering wheel, a four-speaker sound system, electric rear windows and plenty more besides.
Grade 3 models introduce autonomous emergency braking as standard, more upmarket instrumentation, 15-inch alloys, front fog lights, electric folding mirrors with LED indicators, a 7-inch floating central display screen with sat nav and full connectivity, Bluetooth with voice recognition, a DAB radio, six-speaker sound system, automatic air conditioning and a rear parking camera.
GT-Line models are sportier in their appearance boasting a dual exhaust, 16-inch alloys, sports bumpers and side sills, satin black and red faux leather seats, chrome interior door handles and steel pedals.
Finally, the range-topping GT-Line S cars add an electric sunroof, heated front seats with a heated steering wheel, wireless phone charger, a 7-inch display screen with sat nav and a dual height boot floor with luggage net and hooks.
I had the opportunity to test drive the new Picanto models on a varying road route around the Italian countryside and they performed beautifully.
Initially we had a few reservations about whether or not the tiny three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine would have enough gusto to carry two adults along with luggage as we climbed the hills of Tuscany, but any fears were quickly laid to rest as it skipped up the inclines with ease. The gear changing is smooth and responsive and the power levels were always plentiful.
Even on the faster motorways the Picanto was a delight to drive as it cruised effortlessly at 70mph without any screaming from the engine. This car can reach from 0-60mph in 13.8 seconds and tops out at 100mph. It can deliver combined economy of 64.2mpg with emissions of 101g/km.
Kia has worked hard to improve the insulation and ride quality on the Picanto and that’s very apparent with virtually no noise intrusion even at higher speeds.
We tried the higher specced cars too and while the GT-Line S is beautifully crafted and will certainly turn plenty of heads you do have to pay quite a lot more for that sophisticated styling. In fact, our first car which was in ‘2’ trim level was priced at £10,750, but the GT-Line S 1.5-litre car carried a £13,950 price-tag. It does react quicker with a 0-60mph dash time of 11.6 seconds and maximum speed of 107mph but buyers will have to weigh up the costs against the performance when choosing their model.
But in reality, both test cars handled beautifully and the road-holding was certainly confident and assured even when driven somewhat enthusiastically into bends. The steering is quite light but nice and responsive and the all-round visibility is excellent which is a ‘must’ for any city car where other vehicles and pedestrians come darting out from all angles.
All in all, the latest Picanto really turns up the heat in the city car segment. It looks fabulous, delivers good all-round driving dynamics and it would seem there is a model to suit all budgets. And when you factor in Kia’s world class seven-year/100,000-mile warranty it’s easy to see why the Korean marque is in such high demand these days.
Kia Picanto 1.0 petrol 3-door SR7
The Kia Picanto may be the baby of the family, but there’s no denying it is very big on style, practicality, personality and value.
And there is a brand new trim for buyers to choose from meaning there is a Picanto to suit all needs.
The latest SR7 grade replaces the former VR7 spec and introduces lots more kit along the way, but one thing is still guaranteed – the Picanto’s instant appeal factor.
The car boasts eye-catching good looks with a black radiator grille and chrome surround, daytime running lights, tinted glass, 14-inch steel wheels, a dual chrome tipped exhaust, rear fog lights, body coloured bumpers and mirrors, welcome and follow-me-home lights and lots more besides.
The interior is clutter-free in its layout with all dials, controls and read-outs perfectly positioned for driver usability and there are plenty of techno treats and creature comforts to be explored along the way, including a four-speaker audio system with radio/CD player and USB connection.
There is also Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, air conditioning, reversing sensors, plus a leather trimmed multi-function steering wheel.
The test model was powered by a three-cylinder 1.0-litre 68bhp petrol engine which enables it to sprint from 0-60mph in 13.9 seconds with a top speed of 95mph. And according to official figures it can deliver combined fuel economy of 67.3mpg with cost-cutting carbon emissions of 99g/km.
Now those stats may not look overly-impressive, but believe me, the Picanto is a city car that is practical and economical around town, but can burst into life when let loose on country lanes where the road-holding is excellent and the acceleration deceptively fast for such a small car.
The five-speed manual gearbox is beautifully smooth with a constant supply of power on tap and there is a gear shift indicator to help maximise fuel efficiency.
There is very little engine, road surface or wind noise and the all-round handling cannot fail to impress especially when you take into consideration the asking price of £9,845.
And in true Kia tradition, there are no hidden costs to bump up the price-tag.
The boot is not massive in size, but it can easily accommodate the weekly shopping and when larger items need to be transported, the 60:40 split-folding rear seats can simply and quickly be folded flat so as to increase the storage capacity considerably.
Like all city cars, legroom in the back is a tad limited but there is space for two adults if the front seats are not pushed back too far. It is however ideal for children who benefit from ample room.
As one would expect, Kia has kitted out the Picanto with a comprehensive range of safety features, including anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, hill-start assist, electronic stability control and numerous airbags.
All in all, the Kia Picanto is a brilliant city runaround that can hold its own in the grown-up world of motorway traffic too.
And just in case anyone needs reminding it comes complete with Kia’s fully-transferable seven years or 100,000-mile warranty.