The Kia Picanto – a car that travels firmly under the radar of other road users as it doesn’t wear a badge that keeps up with the Jones’ – a car that many will not even have heard of, despite being around for years – a car that is a firm contender in the city-car market.
Kia as a brand, alongside sister company Hyundai, have in recent years, upped their game considerably with the style and quality of their cars, making them appeal to a much greater demographic yet retaining their huge reliability.
Yes ok – they may be a little more ‘hard wearing’ inside than some rivals, but they are incredibly well screwed together, and with a good design team, the lack of soft-touch materials is more than made up for with practically sculpted cabins.
Kia’s Picanto is a car that has transformed from being as bland as drinking lukewarm milk, to being a car that is affordably suitable and to be fair to it, the Picanto does what it says on the tin and in certain trim levels, looks absolutely bloody fantastic!
Being slightly bigger than before; this new car is unmistakably from the Korean stable of Kia – sharing more signature features of the brand, than ever before. Making the Picanto stand out for once – I guess the added substance is now like drinking a Steamer, than just lukewarm milk.
We reported a while back on what Kia offer throughout the Picanto range, you can read what’s on offer now – KIA PICANTO FULL RANGE OVERVIEW – but for this article, we bring to you a model that’s not mentioned, as back then it wasn’t yet released.
This all-new-to Picanto trim level in question, is the ‘X-Line’ which starts from £12,600 and see’s this city-car receive a look that wouldn’t look out of place at an out-of-town activity centre with a slightly more rugged appeal to its aesthetics and perhaps a kayak on the roof.
Featuring 16-inch alloy wheels alongside (on the model tested) lime green highlights around the front fog lamps, front grill and rear bumper, the X-Line is pretty funky looking in this trim level. With black plastic arch extensions, lower side trims and lower sections of both bumpers, the Picanto X-Line looks like it could tackle a few mountain trails.
The addition of satin silver skid-plates on the bumpers would maybe even give you a false belief and sense of confidence for an off-road adventure, but this model really is about style over substance when it comes to that sort of driving.
Automatic headlights featuring welcome-home function are fitted with LED daytime running lamps whilst the electrically folding, heated door mirrors also get some LED lighting in the form of indicators with the rear light clusters also being that of LED.
With one of the largest boots in the class – featuring a variable boot floor height, a week’s shopping won’t be an issue and for a young owner, heading out with mates isn’t too much of a squeeze compared to rivals with enough room for a few sports bags in the boot for weekend pursuits.
The cabin of the X-Line is finished in a grey colour with grey fake-leather upholstery, I feel this colour choice does the materials used no favours, a black finish throughout would be much more forgiving, though what’s on offer, does come with gloss white and lime green highlights with lime green sticthing.
A leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel, air conditioning, remote central locking and full-electric windows add convenience to this Korean gem, and while the cabin is compact (it is a city-car after all), room for front and rear passengers isn’t at all shabby.
Infotainment is provided via a 7-inch touchscreen on the centre of the dash and features everything but Sat Nav, meaning you get AM/FM/DAB radio, Bluetooth with streaming, Apple Carplay and Android Auto along with AUX & USB input, and reversing camera.
Just one engine is available in the Picanto X-Line – a 1.25L petrol, available with either a manual or automatic ‘box which produces 83bhp with 122lb/ft of torque – the manual getting to 60mph in 11.6 seconds with the auto taking a very sluggish 13.2 seconds, while another sign the auto set-up strains a little, is the economy which is claimed at 51mpg, with the manual claiming 61mpg.
Due to the engine being naturally aspirated, to get anywhere in any sort of hurry, you do need to drive it on a little harder than some turbocharged rivals, and with it, real world economy on the manual model I tested, was low 40’s mpg.
Around town, the Picanto absolutely excels, and in many ways, looks much better than rivals such as Hyundai’s i10 and Skoda’s CitiGo – it would even give VW’s ‘up!’ a run for its money when it comes to spec, value and space.
Despite being a little noisy and crashy on the road, driving the Picanto X-Line is painless and safe-feeling, without the major body-roll and unresponsive steering of the previous model – a good thing that I am sure will keep this car as a firm favourite around the globe for those who think outside the box.
Safety is aided thanks to autonomous emergency brake assist and hill assist and if you want a little more, there is an ‘X-Line S’ available from £14,000 that offers cruise control, heated seats and steering wheel, wireless phone charging and an electric sunroof to name a few extras.
With an almost unheard of nowadays warranty – covering 7 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) the Korean maker is as confident as ever with its cars – offering peace of mind for all owners.
Words: Graham Curry