Kia Picanto

Stylish city car is cheap to run and easy to drive

8.2
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 18 reviews
  • Quality feel
  • Interesting looks
  • Huge standard warranty
  • Overly light steering
  • Small boot
  • Limited entertainment tech
 

£8,695 - £12,745 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

50 - 64 MPG

Review

The Kia Picanto is a small hatchback that is offered with three or five doors. Main rivals include the VW UpToyota Aygo and Hyundai i10. The Picanto is famous for its seven-year warranty, quality feel and smart looks. 

This popular supermini is expected to be replaced in 2017. Check out everything we know about the upcoming Kia Picanto including its predicted price, specs and expected release date.

The Picanto stands out from the crowd with its cabin quality. The plastics look expensive for its class and everything feels well put together, if not quite as solid as the VW Up. The interior is also well laid out and has plenty of storage cubbyholes. The front seats get a lot of praise from reviewers and are comfortable even on longer journeys. 

When it comes to value for money the Picanto benefits from a class-leading warranty and a competitive price.

Standard equipment is pretty generous for a small, budget hatchback and includes remote central locking, electric front windows and a four-speaker stereo. Picanto 2 models and above come with air-conditioning, a must-have option in our ever warmer summers.

If you aren’t sure this diminutive car is big enough for you, check out our Kia Picanto dimensions guide. Our colours guide will help you to make the perfect choice of paint.

Cheapest to buy: ‘1′ 1.0-litre petrol

Cheapest to run:  ‘2′ 1.0-litre petrol ISG

Fastest model: ‘2′ 1.25-litre petrol

Most popular: 1′ 1.0-litre petrol

Quite a few testers were impressed with the build quality of the Picanto’s cabin – the plastics do look a little cheap, but they’re of fairly high quality for the class standard, and everything is well screwed together. Most critics were also fans of the layout of the controls and the design of the dash, though some weren’t fond of the steering wheel’s peculiar styling! For 2015, all Picanto’s come with a three-cylinder style instrument binnacle and extra chrome interior trim.

Kia Picanto passenger space

The Picanto is by no means the most practical car you’ll ever come across, but it’s still quite easy to live with. The five-door model’s better access to the back seat makes it the better option if you regularly plan to carry passengers in the rear. There are a few decent storage cubbies up front, head room all round is decent, three adults can just about fit in the back.

Kia Picanto boot space

the 200-litre boot is competitive for the class, plus the lip is low so getting things in and out will be easy. Drop the rear seats and the Kia will relinquish a total load capacity of 605 litres, about the same as the boot of a Honda Civic Tourer estate.

Thanks to the dinky dimensions, light controls and excellent all-round visibility, the Picanto is an easy car to drive in towns and cities. However, the Kia isn’t just useful as an urban runabout – quite a few critics were surprised with the car’s refinement at higher speeds, even with the small 1.0-litre engine. The ride quality is also quite impressive for the class standard.

That being said, there were some areas where the Picanto was a bit disappointing. On rougher surfaces, the ride can get a bit fidgety, especially on the 15-inch alloy wheel option, and a majority of testers weren’t fond of the ‘nervous’ and numb steering. The new Hyundai i10 is a much better drive and the VW Up, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii are better options for long distances.

Kia only offers a pair of petrols engines in the Picanto – a 1.0-litre 68hp three-cylinder  and a 1.25-litre 84hp four-cylinder unit – both seem to be very good little engines. They’re not exactly bristling with power, and you do have to work them fairly hard in order to get up to higher speeds, but both are more than adequate in urban driving conditions, and are quite smooth and civilised for such small engines. They’re also very cheap to run with official fuel economy figures not dropping below 62mpg unless you choose an automatic model, while the vast majority of the range is free to tax.

If you spend most of your time driving in towns and cities, then the 1.0-litre engine will be the more appropriate choice and is free to tax. Don’t pick the 1.0-litre car if you regularly do longer journeys, as it isn’t best suited to motorway travel and needs working hard, to the detriment of its 67mpg official fuel economy.

The 1.25-litre engine is the better option if you regularly travel at higher speeds and it still returns up to 65.7mpg and costs just £20 to tax – all larger-engined models come with Kia’s ISG fuel-saving technology that includes engine start/stop.

Most testers reckon the automatic gearbox option for the Picanto, isn’t worth paying extra for unless you really need it.

The new Kia Picanto 1.0 Petrol reviews are really positive. The critics are mostly impressed with the car’s affordable asking price and running costs, yet are also fond of the engine’s surprisingly broad breadth of talents. However, if you regularly do long journeys, the larger engine option may the more suitable choice.

This entry level engine is a 1.0 three cylinder unit with 68bhp on tap, so performance was never going to be amazing, and can feel quite weedy when you really work it.

However, it’s still quite a peppy and characterful engine – one tester reckoned it’s more enjoyable to use than the larger 1.25 motor – and is surprisingly refined and civilised at higher speeds and on motorway journeys. It’s also quite an efficient engine as well – Kia claims up to 67 mpg is possible on the combined cycle, and the low CO2 emissions output means it costs nothing to tax.

If you regularly do longer journeys, you may want to look at the 1.25 petrol engine, as the extra premium may justify its superior performance and improved road manners at higher speeds. However, the 1.0 triple is still a very good little engine, and will most likely be more than enough for a majority of buyers’ needs.

The Kia Picanto 1.25 Petrol reviews are nearly all excellent, the general consensus is that it's a nice engine in a a great car.

The vast majority of the road tests appear to be very positive towards the flagship Kia Picanto model. Quite a few critics like its abilities in both town and on the open road, along with the affordable running costs and adequate performance on offer. That being said, it is noticeably more expensive to buy than the entry level 1.0 Picanto, even in the most basic trim level.

Thanks to the extra power over the 1.0, the larger 1.25 four cylinder motor does feel a bit stronger, and is adequate enough for the class standard. However, the engine is also noticeably more refined than the starter Picanto model, especially at higher speeds, and is a bit smoother as well.

It’s quite cheap to run too, especially with the EcoDynamics pack which ups fuel economy from 60 to 65 mpg, and reduces CO2 levels to a tax free 100g/km output.

There are some downsides, though. For starters, the EcoDynamics model is only available on the mid-spec ‘2’ trim level, and is on the pricey side – not only is it more expensive to buy than the 1.0 model, but there are also highly competitive rivals with similar price tags.

Overall, it’s a great little car with the 1.25 motor, and is certainly worth considering if you don’t spend too much time driving in built up areas. However, if that’s not the case, then we’d recommend having a look at the smaller 1.0 unit as well.

These are general, non-engine specific reviews. They give a nice overview of what the car is like, without focusing on just one engine/version.

Tested by Euro NCAP back in 2011, the Picanto achieved a four-star crash test score. All Picantos sold in the UK though do have stability control, as well as ABS, electronic brake force distribution, hill assist control and six airbags.

The Kia does lack some of the latest safety kit offered by rivals – automatic city braking, for example – but it’s likely a new model will appear in the next few years to rectify some of those issues.

The Kia Picanto has always been a ‘cheap and cheerful’ kind of car, and even though it’s noticeably more expensive than its predecessor, that ideology persists. Pricing is competitive – actually a little less than some recent entrants into the class and the seven-year, class-leading warranty is also a notable plus point. Two trims levels stand out in the Picanto line-up – the Picanto 1 and the Picanto 2.

Kia Picanto 1 Air

It may be the most sparsely equipped model in the line-up, but the Picanto 1 Air makes sense if you’re just looking for a cheap car to get you from A to B. It gets a sprinkling of useful kit such as electric front windows, remote central locking, a stereo, leather steering wheel trim and air conditioning.

Kia Picanto SE

Mid-level SE models come as standard with the same kit as 1 Air models, with 14-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic air conditioning and a stop/start system all thrown in for good measure.

Kia Picanto Sport

Top-of-the-range Sport trim comes with larger 15-inch alloy wheels and the same upgraded bumpers as offered in the Kia Chilli pack. Faux leather seats with contrasting red stitching and gloss black trim complete the interior modifications.

Read our up-to-date colour guide to see what shades of paint the Picanto is available in.

Conclusion

Overall, the Kia Picanto is a great little car with plenty of positive aspects and quirks. It’s cheap to buy and run, the space and refinement on offer is impressive for supermini standards, the styling is smart and it can hold its own on narrow streets and on dual carriageways.

It isn’t the outright best car in its class to drive, and, surprisingly perhaps, there are rivals out there that are actually cheaper to buy than the Kia. However, the Picanto is certainly a well sorted little runabout with a broad breadth of talents, and we can easily recommend it if you’re in the market for an affordable and stylish little hatchback.

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