Expert Reviews

First Drive: Kia Picanto

Friday 31 March 2017

First Drive: Kia Picanto

You might think that the Kia Picanto is a car best suited to an older driver – and for the most part, you’d be correct. However, the manufacturer is trying to get rid of its traditional image and appeal to a younger audience. Designed to be more attractive to youthful buyers, the refreshed Picanto teams sporty looks with a more involving driving style.

Looks & Image

There’s no doubt that Kia has tried hard to liven the looks of the Picanto up. The ‘tiger nose’ front end is larger than before, and this is teamed with LED driving lights and a large air intake to help spruce up the Kia’s visuals.

For added sportiness, GT-Line cars get red trim and twin-tipped exhausts, while a ‘shark’ antenna – something that first made an appearance on BMWs – appears on the city car for the first time.

Space & Practicality

The Picanto is Kia’s second best-selling model in the UK after the Sportage, so this third- generation model has a huge reputation to live up to. Mostly bought by older drivers as a second car, Kia believes that updated levels of technology like wireless mobile phone charging and Apple CarPlay will help the Picanto appeal to a much younger audience.

It’s the same length as its predecessor – just 3.6 metres – but Kia has managed to increase cabin space by extending the wheelbase and reducing the overhang at the front. That said, the rear still remains somewhere not best suited to taller passengers, while up front you’ll still be sat shoulder-to-shoulder with your passengers.

Autonomous emergency braking – a system which warns then stops you if it senses a crash – is one of a series of cutting-edge safety systems available on the new Picanto.

Behind the Wheel

The way that the Picanto drives is likely to be divisive. Older drivers who are after a relaxed and comfortable ride will appreciate the improved suspension which deals well with nasty road surfaces. However, these drivers may not appreciate the sprightly engines and fast steering – but it is just these characteristics that Kia hopes younger buyers will appreciate.

There’s a noticeable improvement in both ride and handling, and this boils down to the car’s reduced weight and stiffer body over the car it replaces.

Value for Money

As our test car was an early left-hand drive model, there were sadly very few details as to what options will feature on the UK cars. The specification list will follow conventional Kia strategy of 1, 2, and 3 levels of trim. GT-Line, like our test car, will slot in between 2 and 3.

In the car we drove, a seven-inch media screen, wireless charging for mobiles and Apple CarPlay were all fitted, as well as a heated steering wheel, climate control and electric windows. Buyers will have to wait for a few weeks to see just what’s on offer in the UK. 

Who would buy one ?

Kia believes that buyers in the UK will be mainly female – with the manufacturer describing these owners as ‘urban dynamic’. The Picanto is typically used for commuting and is sold as a second car, so it’s likely that the new car will fit within these parameters.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Kia Picanto GT-Line
Price as tested: £13,000 (estimate)
Engine: 1.2-litre, four-cylinder
Power: 84bhp
Torque: 122Nm
Max speed: 107mph
0-60mph: 12 seconds
MPG: 61.4mpg
Emissions: 104g/km

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