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Kia Picanto compact city slicker with big character

PUBLISHED: 17:28 21 August 2015 | UPDATED: 17:28 21 August 2015

Kia's city car, the Picanto, combines style, value and low running costs in a refined package.

Kia's city car, the Picanto, combines style, value and low running costs in a refined package.

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Kia’s Picanto city car won’t break the bank to buy or run which makes this little looker even more attractive, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Price is right

There’s two things I try to avoid when testing cars – knowing the price until I have finished driving it so I can weigh up its value and booking in top-of-range cars, preferring to go for models that are the big sellers.

I managed the first but the not the second with the newly-tweaked and updated Kia Picanto city car so it was an even bigger surprise to find out that this fully-loaded Picanto 4 is £12,295 on the road… not bad but now even better with an offer that takes £700 off that price.

Kia Picanto

Price: Kia Picanto 4 1.25 five-door £12,295 current offer £11,595 (range currently from £8,095)

Engine: 1,248cc, 84bhp, four-cylinder petrol

Performance: 0-60mph 11 seconds; top speed 106mph

MPG: Urban 51.3; extra urban 72.4; combined 62.8

CO2 emissions: 106g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 16%

Insurance group: 6 (out of 50)

Warranty: Seven years or 100,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 3,595mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,875mm; H 1,480mm

Big car feel

It’s a small car with a big car feel with enough equipment to put some cars costing twice that to shame – electric tilt/slide sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, heated seats and steering wheel, cruise control with speed limiter and a windscreen that filters out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

And that’s going to appeal to motorists down-sizing their transport and looking for small-car running costs without sacrificing creature comforts. And that seven-year/100,000-mile warranty is a major sway too.

Under the bonnet

One thing small cars don’t need is big engines and the Picanto offers two petrol units – a 68bhp, three-cylinder 1.0-litre which is more than capable in the cut and thrust of urban driving, and an 84bhp, four-cylinder 1.25-litre which can happily mix it with motorway traffic, cruising at 70mph.

If you will be regularly doing long journeys the bigger engine is more relaxing with its low-down flexibility but it is also happy being revved hard while remaining remarkably refined – 70mph is possible in third – to get past slower traffic briskly.

Even with some hard driving, I was getting 50mpg overall.

What’s it like to drive

Its compact nature means the Picanto is in its element in urban driving where it is able to nip through gaps in the traffic and slot into small parking spaces with the light controls, steering and slick five-speed gearbox – a four-speed automatic is an option with the 1.25-litre engine – making light work of driving. The clutch pedal lacks feel causing me to stall a few times until I got used to it.

With the wheels pushed out to the corners, the Picanto is generally stable and composed, able to take the worst of the sting out of poor, pockmarked roads.

It also drives nicely, the steering is rather light at speed but push it hard and the soft suspension, set up more for comfort, leads to noticeable body roll.

Watch this space

The Picanto is a small car on the outside but four average-sized adults won’t feel the squeeze inside with good headroom and enough legroom in the back to make it capable of more than just a short hop four-up.

The 200-litre boot is well shaped – deep and flat-sided – so it is all useable space and will cope with half a dozen hefty bags of shopping or a couple of weekend suitcases.

At the wheel

Kia has upped the quality of the cabin with upgraded trim materials and the pleasant Picanto doesn’t look or feel like a value model even though there is a lot of hard plastic on top of the dashboard and door cappings but it’s nicely textured. The fascia is straightforward and simple with clear dials and controls and is also more user-friendly with an upgraded audio system having fewer buttons and faster responses.

And there’s also good connectivity with a 12-volt charger, USB port and auxiliary jackpoint.

The only let-down was that the soft seats lack support, but that was after a 200-mile drive and I suspect few owners will do that too often.

Final say

It’s easy to forget the Kia Picanto is a compact city car given the space inside and comprehensive kit across the range. Easy to drive, it gets from A to B with the minimum of fuss and that’s all many motorists ask of a car.

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