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Kia Picanto 1 1.0 66bhp review

Date: 16 May 2017   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

Standard equipment: Electronic stability control, vehicle stability management and hill-start assist control, heated rear window, USB & aux ports
Engines: Petrol: 66bhp 1.0, 83bhp 1.25, 66bhp GT Line, 83GT Line & 83bhp GT Line S.
Trims: Picanto 1, Picanto 2, Picanto 3, Picanto GT-Line Picanto GT-Line S
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic

Within the extremely competitive city car segment, the Kia Picanto has a job on its hands, facing stiff competition from the likes of the Hyundai i10, Toyoya Aygo, Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 and Volkswagen Up, to name just a few.

But Kia is a fierce competitor and city cars aren't anything new for the brand: back in 1991 its cheeky, low-cost and practical Pride heralded the arrival of the Korean manufacturer into the UK.

The Pride morphed into the Picanto and the new range sees Kia offering a total of nine different variants to customers.

After testing the GT-Line version in April, we decided to strip back to basics and give Kia's entry-level Picanto, powered by a 1.0-litre petrol engine with a five-speed manual transmission, a test on a challenging mix of city streets and country lanes in Tuscany.

The Picanto is now capable of up to 64.2mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 101g/km, slightly higher than its rivals, including the VW Up at 97g/km, and the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, which both offer 95g/km. While arguably better suited to urban use we soon discovered that the Picanto is not entirely out of its comfort zone when it comes to long journeys.

Picanto Inside

Compared to the old Picanto, this model instantly feels more responsive on the road with significantly improved handling. The front axles have also been moved further apart, giving the car a far more sturdy feel. A stiffer body, meanwhile, means the suspension soaks up all the hard bumps when driving at high speeds, therefore improving comfort levels, but this doesn't stop car from bouncing around when those speeds are decreased.

The car does have a somewhat go-kart feel about it, not unlike other cars in this class, but its fun-to-drive nature is complemented by a quality edge, due to the responsive and nicely weighted steering, which is a real highlight.

Similarly, the Picanto's tiny 9.8m turning circle, which matches the Volkswagen Up, is extremely convenient on small roads. It isn't the quietest car to travel in though, with a noticeable cockpit whine and loud wind noise.

Standard but advanced

As well as competing against its rivals in the class, another big challenge for this entry-level model is ensuring buyers don't spend a bit more to get a slightly higher-spec Picanto.

Luckily, the standard model is equipped with technology such as electric front windows and a radio with aux and USB ports as standard; two useful bonuses for an entry-level car that you can buy for as little as £9,450.

Compared with its rivals, however, the Picanto doesn't come out trumps. With the Volkswagen Up users can plug in their smartphones and make them an extension of the infotainment system, allowing access to smartphone navigation, a feature unfortunately not offered by the entry-level Picanto.

For sat-nav capabilities you will need to go for the '3' or 'high-grade' Picanto, which offers a 1.25-litre engine but a £12,650 price tag. However, for this price you also get additions such as 15-inch alloy wheels and electrically folding, adjustable and heated door mirrors.

Spacious interior

The new Picanto is exactly the same length (3,595mm) and width (1,595mm) as its predecessor, but the car has been packaged better to improve passenger and luggage space, which is surprisingly obvious when you sit inside.

While the interior remains relatively simple as expected for an entry-level car, it has significantly improved from that of the previous Picanto, and there is improved head and legroom with no compromises on rear space.

The entire range is only available with five doors too, so getting in and out shouldn't be a problem. Thus far, the range is not available with height-adjusting seats, but luckily, with it being such a small car with a deep and wide windscreen, my 5ft 2in frame didn't struggle too much. Someone who is 6ft 2in may say otherwise!

Picanto Rear

Boot space is also pretty generous for a city car, and compared to the previous Picanto, the new one now offers 255 litres as opposed to 200, beating the Volkswagen Up and Hyundai i10 respectively.

When it comes to whole-life costs, the Picanto has a good residual value of 31.50% but this doesn't stack up against the 108, which comes out on top at  31.92%. Similarly, the Picanto's BIK value is £2,005, which is less than the C1 and the Aygo, but tops the 108 this time.

The Picanto's whole-life costs are considerably lower than its rivals, totalling 29.5 per mile versus the 33.0ppm offered by the Citroen C2 and 33.2ppm offered by the Aygo. Compared to the other cars in its class, the Picanto's SMR is relatively low at £1,429. Its fuel costs are higher than that of the C2, 108 and Aygo at £4,996 but its depreciation rate is low at £7,230 compared to the Aygo's £8,610.

High hopes

In the UK, the Picanto has seen success thus far, regularly having been one of the top five best-selling models in its sector. Kia says a 1.0-litre turbo T-GDi engine will be added to the range later on in the year and we think this is probably the one to wait for. If you can't wait, though, this 1.0-litre, three-cylinder car, is a far nicer drive than its 1.2 four-cylinder sibling, which offers more power but lacks in character. From the current line-up we would suggest buying this one over the 1.2. 

P11D Price: £10,555
On sale: May 2017
Residual value: 31.5%
Depreciation: £7,230
Fuel: £4,996
Service, maintenance & repair: £1,429
Cost-per-mile: 29.5
Fuel consumption: 64.2mpg
CO2 (BIK Band): 101g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £33/£67
Boot space: 255 litres
Engine size/power: 998cc/67hp