The new Kia Picanto is full of spirit and verve


The new Kia Picanto is full of spirit and verve

I have been road testing and writing about cars for over 30 years and of course have seen many changes in cars through that time.

Today the real developments are in the areas of connectivity, and electronics, with systems to help us avoid accidents such as autonomous braking, City safe, active cruise control, infra red night vision, head up displays and so forth.

However the big change in the cars themselves is in the small cars.

Years ago when it came to road testing a really small car I can honestly say I did not relish the thought of a week behind the wheel of a light, tinny little car with poor noise insulation, little standard spec and who’s only saving grace was it fitted in small parking spaces.

Today’s small cars are so very different.

Quite the opposite in fact to my description above. They are of course compact, but usually very well equipped often in line with their larger more expensive counterparts, they drive well, have all the latest safety features and are as happy on the motorway as in town.

So it is with the all-new Kia Picanto a car measuring just 3595mm long and 1595mm wide.

Two engines are currently available, a 1.0 MPI 67 PS engine and a 1.2 MPI 84 PS engine both with either a 5-speed gearbox or 4-speed auto.

Prices start at just €13,295 for the 1.0 TX. Four versions are available, the TX, EX, EX ADAS and EX Auto.

The model I am testing is the 1.0 EX.

So has it got any street cred?

Yes indeed it has! This is one good looking little car.

It boasts the now familiar Kia face and with crisp lines, LED rear taillights, 15 inch alloys, chrome door handles and privacy glass. The new Picanto looks very smart.

So what's it like inside?

Slip inside the cabin of the new Picanto and one cannot fail to be impressed.

The dashboard is a model of clarity with clear easy to read instrumentation, while the centre console is topped by what Kia call a “Supervision Cluster” with controls for audio, Bluetooth and so on.

The cabin feels roomy despite its compact dimensions and you could squeeze four adults inside.

The boot is fairly small but on par with those in its class.

Standard kit is as you would expect from Kia is very good.

So in addition to the usual electric windows, central locking etc, it boasts standard Bluetooth, alloy wheels, air conditioning, Hill start assist, Electronic Stability Control, a host of airbags, Tyre pressure monitoring, a decent stereo on the EX ADS model even autonomous emergency braking.

What’s under the bonnet?

The 1.0 litre petrol is mated in this case to a 5-speed manual gearbox.

Performance is adequate, and there is a nice sound from this perky little motor.

Acceleration could be described as leisurely and its fair to say I have experienced better, after all Ford have a 1.0 Eco boost petrol powering a Focus, and its quicker!

That said once you wind it up its fine and performs well even out on the motorway.

It's frugal too returning 5.9 litres per 100km over my test period. Road tax is €190.00 for the year.

Will I enjoy driving it?

It's actually quite a fun little car, its nippy around town, compact and easy to park, on the open road it offers good levels of all round comfort and its quite refined too.

It handles all road types pretty well though sometimes less even country roads can make the ride feel a bit unsettled.

So What’s the final verdict?

I really like the new Kia Picanto. It has character, style, a lovely cabin, a frugal engine and a good specification.

Unlike those small cars of years ago it is just as at home out on a long motorway run as it is around town.

The new Picanto is a very fine small car!

It boasts a full & year warranty, and at €14,795 for the higher spec EX tested, it is also good value.

Nice job Kia!

Hugh Maguire