Dan Trent
01/11/2007 00:00 | By Dan Trent, contributor, MSN Cars

Kia Picanto review (2007-2010)



Kia Picanto (© Kia)


What – Kia Picanto
Where – High Wycombe, UK
Price – £5995-£7995
Available – Now
Key rivals – Fiat Panda, Citroen C1, Hyundai Amica

Summary

The baby Kia gains a new Cee'd influenced look and aims to offer style as well as affordability.

Likes: Price, compact size, five-door practicality, cheap and cheerfulDislikes: Facelift does little for looks, plasticky interior, narrow cabin

Read more Kia reviews

First impressions

Kia Picanto (© image © Kia)

Click images to enlarge, more below

It's been on sale three years now and Kia is on something of a roll these days. So the baby of the range has been called in for a facelift. Said to reflect the all conquering Cee'd, the Picanto's new look front end has demanded new metalwork - a sign of the effort that has gone into this makeover. And the result? Well, whereas before the Picanto looked mildly startled with its enormous new lights it appears absolutely terrified. Elsewhere there is an expanded model line up and new equipment options, an updated interior, bigger mirrors and split-fold five-seat accommodation on all but the entry level model.

Kia Picanto (© image © Kia)

Make no mistake, the Picanto is a cheep and cheerful car. But with the facelift Kia has worked hard on the details to try and make it feel a bit more substantial too. And with intense competition from cars like the Fiat Panda and the Citroen C1/Peugeot 107/Toyota Aygo triumvirate, it's got a lot of work on its hands. The interior plastics are darker in hue in a moderately successful attempt to make it feel a bit more upmarket than the grey of before and there's a new centre console with a proper factory fit audio system too. And the indicator stalk is now on the left to suit European tastes and banish embarrassing unintentional wiper flapping.

Performance

Kia Picanto (© image © Kia)

Well, the good news is that as part of the refreshed model line up the range-topping Picanto 3 is being described as the 'sports-luxury' model. And it gets 15-inch alloys, a roof spoiler and aluminium trimmed pedals. And that's about as sporty as it gets because with the choice of a 1.0 or 1.1 litre engine with either 61 or 64bhp you're not going to be winning any traffic light Grands Prix. Even on the more powerful 1.1 0-62mph takes a yawn inducing 15.1 seconds, the automatic even slower at 17.9 seconds. Admittedly, this is about on the pace for cars in this bracket and the little Kia has enough power to keep pace with traffic in and out of town.

Ride and handling

Kia Picanto (© image © Kia)

Again, we're talking get what you pay for in this department. If you're not in a hurry the Picanto is a pleasant enough little thing, with light controls and a user friendly demeanour. Only a slightly clunky shift from second to third spoils things but we'll give it the benefit of the doubt bearing in mind our test car had only covered 29 miles before we got our hands on it. Another example felt fine. Given that it runs on teeny 14-inch wheels the ride actually isn't half bad, in a bouncy kind of way. Cornering limits are fairly low and you run into a buffer of understeer quite quickly but in its natural habitat of city driving this is rarely a serious issue.

Interior

Kia Picanto (© image © Kia)

This is one area where the Picanto couldn't hide its budget status so it's nice to see Kia addressing some of the issues. Our Ice spec car had a leather wheel and gearknob which, though seemingly token, goes a long way to upping the perceived quality. Ice spec also gets you air conditioning, splashes of silver paint on the centre console, 'sporty' black trim on the seats and doors and other detail upgrades. One notable improvement is the factory fit audio system, which replaces the fiddly and difficult to use head unit seen on earlier Picantos.

Kia Picanto (© image © Kia)

Kia makes much of the Picanto's practicality and its five-door format is certainly useful in this respect. The 157-litre boot is a tad bigger than that of the Aygo/C1/107 but nearly 50 litres down on the Panda. And although most Picantos now have 60:40 split-fold rear seats, they don't slide or offer as much flexibility as some rivals. And while headroom is fine, the cabin is narrow and you end up quite intimate with your front passenger. Pervy driving instructors may enjoy having their thighs stroked when their pupils change gear but for the rest of us it can be a little embarrassing.

Economy and safety

Kia Picanto (© image © Kia)

By virtue of its small size and low weight the Picanto is both frugal and low on CO2 emissions - another important factor for city dwellers. Indeed, the entry level 1-litre Picanto emits just 117g/km so would qualify for free entry to the London congestion zone should the planned changes come into effect. Official combined mpg of 57.6mpg and 53.3mpg for the 1.0 and 1.1 respectively is reasonably competitive. As far as safety goes you get disc brakes all round with EBD and ABS, two airbags, seatbelt tensioners and ISOFIX attachment points as standard. Visibility is also very good, hopefully meaning you can avoid trouble in the first place.

The MSN Cars verdict: 3/5

The Picanto is a decent enough little car and with a starting price of £5995 also pretty affordable. But the competition in this sector has got stronger and it really needs a cast iron unique selling point to offer a quantifiable advantage. As it stands it has a standard three-year warranty but if Kia were able to offer a seven-year one, as it does with the European built Cee'd, the Picanto would have the selling point it needs to put one over on its rivals.

Read more Kia reviews

Ratings out of five: Kia Picanto 1.1 Ice
Performance
**
Ride & handling**
Interior**
Safety***
Price****
Practicality***
Fuel economy****
MSN Cars verdict***

Need to know

Petrol engines 1.0 and 1.1 four-cylinder
Power (bhp) 61-64
Torque (lb/ft) 63-72
0-62 (secs) 16.4-15.1
Top speed (mph) 93-96
Combined mpg 53.3-57.6
CO2/tax 117/15-126/15

Driven: Hyundai Amica
Driven: Fiat Panda Multijet
Driven: Citroen C1

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