Gareth Butterfield tests Kia’s fun supermini, the Picanto
Some things, wine for example, improve with age. We all mature and acquire wisdom and most things become more responsible or more sedate in advancing years.
Not so with the Kia Picanto. Here’s an example of something that bucks the trend when it comes to growing old gracefully. It’s the latest incarnation of Kia’s city-loving supermini and it’s more fun and funky than it’s ever been.
Of course, it needs to be interesting to compete in this sector. The Kia Picantos of old simply won’t butter the parsnips of the current trendy city-car buyer any more than a pair of moccasin sandals and a cup of hot Bovril would.
And Kia seems to have a habit, at the moment, of getting things right. It’s competing well in just about every sector it represents and the Picanto is, how do you say it, “bang on-trend”.
Shorter overhangs, a stretched wheelbase, bespoke alloy wheels, “air curtain” intakes in the bumper and an array of cool colour combinations set it apart from predecessors, while staying up-to-date in an increasingly cute and colourful world of rival superminis.
It’s nice inside too. The interior is classic Kia, by which I mean improving with every revision, and a sense of fun can be injected by picking some gaudy colours for the seat bolsters. The infotainment system is also a highlight – as good as it gets in cars of this type, as it happens.
Pick of the engines is arguably the 1.25-litre four-cylinder, which produces 83bhp. There’s a three-cylinder lump available which comes with either a woeful normally aspirated 66bhp, or a breezier 99bhp turbo flavour, but for some reason the peppy four-pot seems to suit the car better.
That said, it’s a sure-footed thing anyway, which handles and rides well and copes with the tight twists of the city hack and also responds well on the open road.
Responsive controls, a tight turning circle and good visibility make it a very easy car to live with in most environments.
Boot space is better than the old Picanto, up from 200 litres to a much more useable 265 litres. The rear seats drop down to make way for a thoroughly decent 1,010 litres, and space in the rear seats is perfectly acceptable when they’re back up.
It has some strong rivals, of course, but none of them can match Kia’s marvellous seven-year warranty. And that, frankly, is the icing on the cake.