New Picanto is more spacious and practical, better equipped with improved handling and ride comfort and has latest connectivity and driver assistance features.
Prices for the new Picanto start from £9,450 and rise to £13,950 and if customers are quick and order a new one before the end of June this year there is an offer of free motor insurance for up to one year for those customer aged between 21 and 79. Insurance costs are low anyway with groups ranging from 4 to 10 depending on the engine and spec level chosen.
Currently there are nine versions on offer based on two multi-point injection petrol engines, two transmissions and five trim levels badged ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, and new sportier styled ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’. The revised current normally aspirated engines are a 1.0-litre 66bhp three-cylinder unit with a five speed manual gearbox and a 1.25-litre, four-cylinder 83bhp unit with five speed manual and four speed auto gearbox choices. These units offer lower fuel consumption of up to 64.2mpg and lower CO2 emissions down as low as 101g/km To come is a turbocharged direct injection T-GDI version of their 1.0-litre engine with 99bhp and significantly more torque at 172Nm available from only 1,500rpm but prices are yet to be announced.
In the UK, A-segment City Car sales where the Picanto traditional competes, sales amount to around 130,000 a year and the Picanto has regularly been one of the top five best-selling models. The UK contributes almost a quarter of all-new Picanto sales in Europe.
Kia UK says that the Picanto accounts for almost one in six of their UK sales with retail buyers accounting for 82% of purchases. Grade ‘2’ is expected to be the biggest seller and the choice of 42% of customers and the new GT-Live variants with their sportier body style kits could be responsible for 30% of future Picanto sales. Kia also say the 1.0-litre 66bhp engine will remain the most popular but they are optimistic about demand for the yet to arrive 1.0-litre T-GDI 99bhp engine.
Vertical ventilation outlets at the outer edges of the dashboard act as bookends for the instruments and display areas.
Based on an all-new platform in line with customer requirements is no larger overall than its predecessor with a length of 3,595mm and its 1,595mm wide but it is 5mm taller at 1,485mm. However to create more interior space and boot capacity the wheelbase has been extended to 2,400mm.
The boot space goes up from 200-litres to a class-leading 255-litres and this increases to 1,010-litres with the rear seats folded down.
In addition the longer wheelbase improves on-road handling and gives a slightly more compliant ride.
New materials and trim enhancements emphasise the significantly improved quality of the all-new Picanto. The seats are in black cloth, premium black cloth or black and red faux leather, depending on model. There are black, silver paint or satin chrome door handles; and leather trim is used for the steering wheel and gear-lever from grade ‘2’.
‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’ have larger front and rear bumpers and red highlights within the upper grille and side air intakes, along the side sills and in the lower rear bumper, which contains a diffuser section and twin exhaust tailpipes. They also have the black and red faux leather upholstery, satin chrome interior door handles and stainless steel pedals with non-slip rubber inserts.
The ‘GT-Line S’ and grade ‘3’ versions are distinguished by a 7-inch centre-mounted ‘floating’ touchscreen, giving access to the navigation, infotainment and connectivity systems, which include integration with Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via apps pre-loaded onto a smartphone.
With price, exterior design, value for money and equipment key areas for customer choice in the latest City Car sector, Kia confidently expects the more stylish, more spacious, sportier and more modern newcomer to increase its market share significantly in the next few years.
I have just had a brief first UK test driving spell behind the wheel of the latest Picanto in its 1.0-litre 66bhp three cylinder normally aspirated petrol engine form with grade ‘2’ specification so this is potentially going to be the best selling version and its priced at £10,750 on-the-road.
Apart from its attractive price with a Combined Cycle fuel consumption figure of 64.2mpg, low CO2 emissions of 101g/km running costs will be low as will the Group 5 insurance rating. The new VED road tax cost £140 each year and the few company car drivers, who might choose this model, most will be retail buyers, will pay 19% Benefit-in-Kind tax. All customers will enjoy the peace-of-mind seven years 100,000-mile warranty.
The fresh new looks and upgraded interior with higher specification are all welcome changes as are the extra millimetres contributing to a shade more interior space and a bit more load carrying ability. Being only five door versions now the new Picanto is more user friendly giving easy access for passengers or loading shopping bags onto the rear seats
Specification for this ‘2’ grade model includes power steering, stability control, central locking, 14-inch alloy wheels, air-con, electric front and rear windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors, AM/FM radio and front and side airbags.
Most noticeable whilst driving about the winding Cotswold roads was the sharper steering and the marginally better ride comfort. Also noticeable was the quieter ride due to improved sound insulation. It seemed to me the new Picanto has grown up, but not grown too much in size. It remains an ideal City Car, good for commuting and the occasional longer journey although for those owners doing longer motorway trips I would recommend the larger and more powerful 1.25-litre engine, until at least the 1.0-litre T-GDI turbo unit comes along.
The 1.0-litre 66bhp engine I tried is fine for lower commuting speeds and pottering around but with only 96Nm of torque available from a high 3,500rpm its response for acceleration was limited and going up steep hills required more high engine revs than felt comfortable and full use needs to be made of the gearbox.
During my road test driving on rural roads and a trip into the nearest town the real-life economy was 48.6mpg, somewhat less than the official 64.2mpg figure.
I suspect the larger 1.25-litre engine could do better as it has to work less hard.
In town driving is where the new Picanto works best, it’s neat and nimble in the handling department, its compact length makes it easier to park, the improved interior specification, comfortable seats and good visibility make those long periods stationary in traffic more bearable.
It is significantly better in all areas than previous generation models but remember it is a City Car and size and performance matters on some occasions.
Kia Picanto ‘2’, 1.0 manual 5-Door £10,750
Engine/transmission: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, non-turbo petrol engine, 66bhp, 96Nm of torque from 3,500rpm, 5-speed manual
Performance: 100mph, 0-60mph 13.8-seconds
Combined Cycle 64.2mpg (48.6mpg on test), CO2 101g/km, VED road tax £140, BiK company car tax 19%
Insurance Group: 5 Warranty: 7-years/100,000-miles
Dimensions/capacities: L 3,595, W 1,595mm, H 1,485mm, boot/load space 255 to 1,484-litres. 5-doors/4-5-seats
For: Improvements throughout, cheeky smart exterior looks, higher grade interior, improved ride comfort and handling, more comfortable seats, low running costs, long warranty
Against: Limited engine performance in terms of response and acceleration during open road driving.
© David Miles