The 2011 KIA Picanto has already been popular with motoring Journo’s, just this morning the 1.0 version has been named ‘Best Supermini’ in What Car? Magazine’s Green Awards 2011, and strong increased UK sales (despite the recession), point to a vehicle mirroring KIA’s increasingly upwardly spiraling reputation.
It’s probably one of the few sub £10k cars out there that doesn’t feel like a car made on the cheap, moreover it feels like a good car that IS cheap.
The city is the Picanto’s preferred playground, and its size, performance and reliability are better suited to the frequent gear changes, tight parking and hustle and bustle of ‘urban’ life. It’s gearbox is smooth and easy to drive, the car feels light and it turns on a sixpence.
It’s not just another faceless ‘they all look the same’ modern car either.
Yes, it has bumps and corners and other shapes too.. KIA’s Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer was the man who designed the original Audi TT and he knows a thing or two about car design. Admittedly it’s no ‘game changer’, but it has character and when you look at it on the drive from your front room window, you feel good, not cheap.
There is a choice of 6 colours, the one we had was a cool looking Blue Breeze, the Lemongrass and Galaxy Black ‘flavours’ are quite striking too.
The 2011 Picanto is slightly longer and wider than previous versions and for a small car it doesn’t feel pokey inside. The sloping dash helps the illusion of space and the driver is never knocking knees with the front passenger.
Im over 6ft tall and had plenty of headroom without having to drive lying down. It’s not huge though and over long journeys 5 adults would start to feel the constraints but for a car of this size interior space is amazingly good.
Sometimes manufacturers think that if they put bright colours and brash materials inside their budget cars it will distract you from their short-comings. In reality it actually reminds you are sitting in a ‘budget’ car, luckily KIA have gone for simple and understated. Sometimes less IS more and it works well, the controls are functional and again nothing looks ‘cheap’.
When you open one of the doors or boot you will notice that they look quite thin. Despite this the car does have a good four star safety rating from EuroNcap and all models come with front, side and curtain airbags as standard.
Combined with a Side Impact Protection system and other safety features not usually present on cars of this price it more than fulfills it’s obligations to passenger safety.
The model we tested was the 5-door 1.25 petrol 2 Eco version (£10,195), featuring automatic stop-start ISG, advanced alternator control, upgraded starter motor and low-rolling resistance tyres.
These are all features designed to save you fuel (money) and reduce emissions, if you get the 1.0 version (£7,795) emissions are just 99g/km CO2 and that means you can forget about car tax and London Congestion Charges too.
Top Speed on the 1.25 version is 106mph and 0-60 takes 11 seconds, and while it’s quite nippy in low gears in the city, down the motorway it’s light weight construction and suspension mean you need to keep a tighter hold at higher speeds.
Economy is excellent with urban consumption (53.3mpg) and extra urban (74.3mpg) these figures combined give you a very good overall 65.7mpg. Of course you will also get a 7yr /100,000 miles warranty with every new KIA, something no other manufacturer can currently compete with.
It’s not perfect, the boot is ok for your shopping or at a push your golf clubs, but for this price there has to be certain compromises, the pleasant surprise for me was the way KIA have managed to make most of them without anyone really noticing.