20 NOVEMBER 2017
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Great value for a small car!
The Kia Picanto city car was first introduced by the Korean manufacturer in 2004, in reality an up-market development of a product by sister company Hyundai. By 2011 a second-generation model came along, a slightly larger edition of what was originally a very small vehicle, this version the work of Kia's European design team based in Frankfurt. It has been a big success all over the world – 1.4 million produced in its life cycle. BTN particularly liked it, nimble, spacious for what it is, and with a feeling of quality. Sun roof, folding mirrors, smart key, privacy glass and start/stop, on the popular manual ‘4’ version. No wonder it sold well at around the £12,000 in the UK.
We now have the third generation introduced at 2017 Geneva International Motor Show in March. One big change. It is only available as a four-passenger-door model and there are no diesel versions available. Whilst the previous car was high on quality for the interior fittings Kia has made another quantum leap with this latest Picanto set for production into the 2020s.
In some respects it is not that easy to distinguish the new model from the old. They are both the same size 3595mm long and 1595mm wide, but the way the car is packaged is what makes the difference. The all-new Picanto is 5mm taller and has a 15mm longer wheelbase. The front overhang is shorter to give the car a squatter, sportier stance, whilst the rear projection is longer which enhances the profile and most importantly increases the luggage space, now said to be the largest in its class at 255 litres. This becomes just over 1000 litres with the rear seats folded.
There are nine models of the new Picanto range available. BTN was supplied with the ‘GT-Line S’, £13,950 on the road with a five-speed manual gearbox, 0-60 in 11.6 seconds, and fuel consumption pushing towards 50mpg. The automatic is in short supply but we would hope to try what might be the perfect city car early in the new year.
For your money you get a seven-year 100,000 mile warranty, electric sunroof, 7” touchscreen navigation system, reversing camera, electrically folding door mirrors with LED indicator lamps, which don’t fold until you have exited the car and so can see cyclists coming along side, rear privacy glass, heated front seats and automatic climate control. And that is just for starters. Other inclusive items that come as part of the package include cruise control, a fine six-speaker audio system, various active safety and driving aids such as brake assist and tyre monitoring. New in-car technologies and connectivity features take in Android and Apple smartphone integration and a wireless smartphone charger. The car that really started the city car boom nearly 60 years ago, the original Mini, came with a wire to open each of the two doors and a four-speed gear box. Flat out 70mph could be obtained. We have come a long way to this new luxury Picanto.
Underpinning the whole car is what Kia calls its new H platform, stronger and lighter but also safer. As a result it is said to be 32% better than its predecessor in torsional stiffness and 12% for tensile strength. This stiffer body benefits comfort ride and handling by allowing the suspension to do its work without having to compensate for flexing and helps to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.
The previous Picanto was quiet for a small high revving car (6500rpm limit) and even on a motorway the engine, wind and external noises were kept to a minimum. This latest version includes the greater use of foam insulation pads and body stripes, plus new engine mounts and revised quieter heating and ventilation units. A nice touch is the lower placement of the windscreen wipers to reduce wind roar.
The ‘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. There is smart black and red faux leather upholstery, satin chrome interior door handles, high gloss centre fascia trim and stainless steel pedals with non-slip rubber inserts. These have 16” alloy wheels which distinguishes them from the lesser cars in the range.
If you are looking for a cheap, but quality, town runabout one can haggle down the basic 66bhp Picanto for something around £9,000. What the GT-Line S brings is a quality multi-purpose car, very suitable for inner city driving but not out of place on a motorway at a very respectable price. Around the world it is picking up prizes.
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Ride and Comfort 9
TOTAL: 84 %
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