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Kia Picanto (2011-2017) 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.

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Kia Picanto (2011-2017): what would you like to read next?

Is the Kia Picanto (2011-2017) a good car?

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 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.

This is the most grown-up small car you can currently buy

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

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.

What's it like to drive?

Thanks to the dinky dimensions, light controls and excellent all-round visibility, the Picanto is an easy car to drive in towns and cities.

The soft suspension makes the Picanto roll a lot in corners

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

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.

If you spend most of your time driving in towns and cities, then the 1.0-litre engine will be the more appropriate choice. 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 – all larger-engined models come with Kia’s ISG fuel-saving technology that includes engine start/stop.

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

The Kia isn’t just useful as an urban runabout – you’d be 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 are some areas where the Picanto is a bit disappointing. On rougher surfaces, the ride can get a bit fidgety, especially on the 15-inch alloy wheel option. The new Hyundai i10 is a much better drive and the VW Up, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii are better options for long distances.

What's it like inside?

The Picanto’s passenger space compensates for the slightly dull interior.

Next Read full interior review
Buy a new or used Kia Picanto (2011-2017) 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 £8,285 - £12,955
  • Build your perfect car or choose from our recommendations based on your needs
  • Dealers come to you with their best offers
  • Compare offers and buy with confidence