Kia Picanto Review & Prices

The Kia Picanto looks great, costs peanuts to run and has a generous boot, but other city cars are better at carrying rear passengers and less strained on motorways

Buy or lease the Kia Picanto at a price you’ll love
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RRP £10,785 - £19,145 Avg. Carwow saving £1,150 off RRP
Carwow price from
Cash
£14,574
Monthly
£200*
Used
£7,665
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2024
Smart Spender Award
Highly Commended
wowscore
7/10
Reviewed by Carwow after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Big boot for a small car
  • A doddle to drive in town
  • Reassuring seven-year warranty

What's not so good

  • Noisy at motorway speeds
  • Alternatives are more comfortable…
  • … and have roomier back seats

Find out more about the Kia Picanto

Is the Kia Picanto a good car?

The Kia Picanto is seemingly the ideal small car, because it’s cheap to buy and run, with great economy and tiny dimensions that make it nippy in town. This is why it was highly commended in the Smart Spender category of the 2024 Carwow Car of the Year Awards.

However, it’s a few years old now, and is starting to feel like a blu-ray player in a world of digital downloads, certainly when compared with more modern – and arguably more stylish – alternatives. Even the addition of a SUV-style X-Line version and a sporty-looking GT-Line haven’t done much to modernise the Picanto.

The Kia Picanto’s no-frills approach continues when you step inside. It’s perfectly spacious in the front and its smart – if slightly gloomy – dashboard is laid out sensibly so everything’s easy to use.

From 3-spec models and up you get an 8.0-inch infotainment screen that’s bigger and more colourful than that fitted to the VW Up. The Kia’s menus are simple enough to navigate and the system isn’t sluggish, plus you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can use your smartphone’s apps on the Kia’s big screen.

All models get five doors as standard – unlike some even dinkier alternatives – so access to the back seats is good, although anyone approaching six-foot tall will feel cramped. The same goes for the Kia Picanto’s boot, which is big enough for a few bags of shopping but not much else.

The Kia Picanto is a quirky-looking thing that’s great around town. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t fill you with confidence on the motorway

If you want a massive interior, though, you’re better off looking elsewhere. The Picanto is built to zip through city streets and it does that really rather well – slipping through gaps in traffic that bigger cars can’t, and breezing through width restrictions like they’re not there. Parking couldn’t be simpler because all four corners of the car are easy to judge when you’re slipping into tight spaces.

You can choose from two petrol engines – a non-turbo 1.0-litre with 67hp, or one with a turbo and 100hp. The first is cheaper to buy and marginally cheaper to run than the turbo 1.0, however, the turbo version is still the better bet because it’s stronger and still economical.

Whichever engine is fitted, the Kia never feels that at home on faster roads. Gusts of wind turn its slab-sided body into a big sail, pushing and pulling the car down the road. Jiggly suspension doesn’t help you and your passengers relax and nor does the pronounced amount of wind and road noise that makes its way into the cabin.

So, there are better city cars for venturing out on the motorway and carrying rear passengers, but if you do neither regularly then you’ll enjoy lots of standard equipment and the peace of mind that long warranty brings.

If you want a brand new Kia Picanto then head over to Carwow and check out deals on that or any other new Kia model. Used Kia Picanto offers are also available, while you can also check out used Kia deals on Carwow as well. If you want to sell your car and get a great price for it, use Carwow as well, where our trusted dealers will bid on your car.

How much is the Kia Picanto?

The Kia Picanto has a RRP range of £10,785 to £19,145. However, with Carwow you can save on average £1,150. Prices start at £14,574 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £200. The price of a used Kia Picanto on Carwow starts at £7,665.

Our most popular versions of the Kia Picanto are:

Model version Carwow price from
1.0 2 5dr £14,574 Compare offers

The Kia Picanto is one of the cheapest new cars you can buy in Britain, but you may be surprised at how much it costs if you haven’t looked at new car price lists in a few years. That’s as a result of added safety equipment which is compulsory these days.

The cheapest model is the ‘1’, but even this has electric windows and remote locking. Twin front, side and curtain airbags are standard too.

The ‘2’ model upwards gets alloys and air con, while the 3 adds bigger wheels, sat nav and smartphone connectivity. The X-Line has a pseudo SUV style and the GT-Line adds a sporty body kit, but both start to look expensive.

Performance and drive comfort

The Kia Picanto’s small, slim body makes it easy to drive in town and the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine is nippy, but things quickly unravel when you get on the motorway

In town

The city is the Picanto’s natural environment. Its compact dimensions mean it is easy to thread though the traffic, with its narrow footprint being especially handy when trying to squeeze through narrow streets and between parked cars.

A tight turning circle makes parking manoeuvres easy too, and it's simple to squeeze into spaces which SUV drivers would have to ignore. If you want to make it even easier, choose a ‘3’ or above to get a reversing camera so you can pull right up to the bumper.

Despite the small overall length, the Picanto has a longer wheelbase than is usual in this sector, which makes it feel remarkably refined around town. Broken surfaces are absorbed admirably by the suspension and even speed bumps are soaked up without drama. Steer clear of the bigger 16-inch wheels if ride comfort is crucial to you though. They make the steering feel sharper but add to the road noise and make the car feel firmer. 

The standard 1.0-litre engine is far from quick, but feels fine for urban traffic situations. 

On the motorway

Although the Picanto can cope with motorway journeys perfectly well, it does feel out of its depth doing long journeys on fast moving roads.

Although Kia claims its baby is the quietest city car around, at motorway speeds the three-cylinder engine is revving at a level which feels uncomfortable. The non-turbo 66bhp engine loses momentum quickly on inclines too, especially if you have passengers on board. 

The turbo T-GDi is much more comfortable, especially when trying to accelerate on a slip road. But both versions can get bouncy above 60mph when traversing bumps and are buffeted by cross winds from trucks.

On a twisty road

Even the sporty-looking GT-Line models are not really designed to be a fun car in the same way as a rival like the Volkswagen Up GTI, but there is still something entertaining about driving a small and slow car like the Picanto on a twisty road. 

With the normally aspirated version you really need to work the gears to keep up momentum, but the turbocharged versions are much more responsive and you’ll not need to change ratios as often.

There is an auto version if you’re not keen on stirring a lever, but it feels slow and ponderous, especially if you are trying to press on. 

The steering is positive-feeling though, and body roll is well controlled, even on the taller tyres.

Space and practicality

The Kia Picanto gets five doors for easy access to the back seats, but it’s not the most practical of cars

Front seat passengers get the best deal in the Picanto, but getting a comfortable driving position still isn’t as easy as it should be. Basic ‘1’ versions don’t have a height-adjustable driver’s seat and all Picantos have steering that only adjusts for height.

As a result, tall drivers will have to compromise between having enough room to stretch your legs, or comfortably reaching the steering wheel. The resulting balance between the two can be a little uncomfortable on a long drive.

Storage space around the cabin is a bit meagre too, especially in the rear seats. Remove the manual and you might be able to squeeze more than a pair of gloves in the glovebox, but at least the front door pockets are a reasonable size. 

You also get a handy tray for your phone (with wireless charging in the range topping GT Line S models), a couple of flimsy flick-out cupholders and a small storage area under the front centre armrest for tickets, coins and a wallet.

Space in the back seats

As you might expect in this size of car, the Picanto’s back seats will be tight for your adult passengers. If there’s someone six-foot tall in the front, someone of a similar size in the back is going to find it a real challenge to squeeze in.

A Volkswagen Up offers a little bit more room and feels less claustrophobic. That said, the Kia Picanto does at least get wind-down windows instead of the Up’s pop-out panes.

It’s worth noting that entry-level Kia Picantos with a non-turbocharged 1.0-litre engine come with only two rear seats while all other versions get three as standard. That said, its narrow cabin means you can forget about carrying three adults side-by-side in the back of the Picanto – it’s best for kids only, and even then is a squeeze.

Access to the back seat is pretty good because the Kia Picanto comes with five doors as standard. They’re a big help when it comes to fitting a child seat – getting the base into the back is easy, but hooking it up to the ISOFIX points requires wild stabbing as you hunt for the anchor points hidden deep in the seat upholstery.

Boot space

You probably won’t be expecting to start a removals business using a Picanto, but it is worth checking that the 255-litre boot is going to be big enough for your needs. It's marginally roomier than those in the Volkswagen Up (251 litres) and Hyundai i10 (252 litres), but is still only suitable for a few bags of shopping if you keep the rear seats up. 

All models come with rear seats that fold and split 60:40, so you can carry a passenger in the back next to some flat-pack furniture poking through from the boot. 

If you’re splashing out on a GT Line S or X-line S model it comes with an adjustable load floor that means you can slide a suitcase into the boot without having to lift it over the load lip, and can hide valuable items too.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The Kia Picanto’s interior has a smart design, but some alternatives have more character and come with personalisation options

The style of the Picanto’s interior is designed to be inoffensive and to have a higher quality look than some rivals, with a minimum of bare metal. But it means there is not much in the way of personality either. 

The dashboard’s vertical air vents look similar to the ones found in the much larger Kia Sportage and there are slashes of satin silver trim that run across the full width of the facia. 

The three-spoke steering wheel looks sporty and the dials are clear and easy to read, although the controls for the car’s stereo feel disappointingly flimsy.

Everything else feels properly screwed together though, and although you don’t get any soft-touch plastics, you can’t really expect to in a car that is one of the cheapest you can buy.

The pure black upholstery on basic models makes the interior feel a little gloomy, but the GT Line and GT Line S models brighten it up with faux black leather seats and red highlights. They’re easier to keep clean too, but don’t feel particularly plush.

The infotainment feels a little behind the curve however. All models have Bluetooth and USB connectors, but the cheapest 1 model gets a 3.8-inch monochrome display which looks like it was rejected by the 1990s. The 2 models get the same system, but with a 4.2” screen. You have to upgrade a Picanto 3 for proper infotainment and connectivity. 

They come with an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen that’s pretty big for a car the Picanto’s size and makes the interior look far more modern. It comes complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity so you can mirror your smartphone’s navigation and media apps on the Picanto’s big screen. There’s also a reversing camera. 

Picanto 3 models and up also get the best stereo of the lot – it offers reasonable sound via its six speakers. Picanto 2s make do with four-speakers while the entry-level model has just two.

MPG, emissions and tax

The Picanto has a choice of two small, three-cylinder petrol engines that are cheap to run and ideally suited to urban driving.

The standard 1.0-litre model with 67hp manages an official average of 55.4mpg, but the 0-60mph takes a sleep-inducing 14 seconds. That makes it hard work on longer runs, especially since the three-cylinder engine is also noisy and sends vibrations through the cabin and pedals. 

By cheap city car standards, it is not the worst in the class, but it soon becomes tiring on motorways. Even in town, the performance feels pretty sedate.

If you can afford it, the turbocharged 1.0-litre with 100hp manages an average of 49.6mpg and can cover the 0-60mph sprint in a surprisingly sprightly 9.9 seconds.

You can make the Picanto worse by fitting the automated manual transmission, which uses a robotised system to swap ratios, but does it far too slowly for comfort. Unless an auto is essential, it’s better to save the cash and stick with a standard manual gearbox that’s smooth and easy enough to use, even in heavy traffic.

Safety and security

The Picanto gets a fairly average three star rating in the independent Euro NCAP tests, but that’s on a par with its rivals in the city car sector. It actually has a decent amount of safety kit to protect you as standard too, including side and curtain airbags and a forward collision avoidance assist system.  

Rear parking sensors and a camera are standard on the 3 and S models to prevent low speed knocks.

To stop anyone making off with your Picanto, there is a standard alarm across the range, along with locking wheel nuts and speed sensing auto door locking. The flip-out folding key is an unexpected premium touch too.

Reliability and problems

The Picanto fares reasonably well in reliability surveys generally, showing that cheap cars needn’t be unreliable. However, there have been a few recalls for fuel leaks (caused by iffy rubber seals on the filler neck) and handbrake corrosion. 

Dealers will take care of these and any other faults quickly though, and every new Kia comes with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty as standard. There are clauses and exceptions of course, but only MG’s seven-year/80,000 mile and Hyundai’s five-year guarantee can get close to matching it.

Buy or lease the Kia Picanto at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £10,785 - £19,145 Avg. Carwow saving £1,150 off RRP
Carwow price from
Cash
£14,574
Monthly
£200*
Used
£7,665
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare new offers Compare used deals
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