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Article from BTNews 13 SEPTEMBER 2021


As small cars go the Kia Picanto has always been a favourite of Business Travel News writes Malcolm Ginsberg.

We have come a long way since the original Mini had wire pulls to open the doors.

Third generation Korean is a class leader and in many ways very sophisticated with the latest TomTom navigation system and many add-ons included in the price, often an extra with so-called prestige cars vastly more expensive.

It is best described as a ‘city car’, the model supplied to BTN coming with a five-speed manual box, although our local dealer says that the ‘automated manual’ unit, also five-speed, is very popular with customers.

For those who can remember the old 998cc Mini was a trifle underpowered for Motorways, until the 1275cc came along.  

The 1.0-litre 12-valve 66bhp Picanto suffers in the same way when it comes to fast highways, but that is not to take it away from its ‘in town’ ability, extremely nimble, able to park in very small spaces.  ‘Stop and Go’ is standard and Kia claims up to nearly 60mpg, with 50mpg plus easily obtainable.  Don’t be put off by 0-60mph acceleration in 14.1sec.  It’s adequate without being sprightly.  And the car will trundle along at a steady 70mph on the highways if required.  For those in the suburbs there is also a ‘speed limiter’.

The Picanto is equipped with an Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), which automatically flashes the hazard warning lights to alert the car behind if the driver has to brake suddenly. Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) holds the car on the brake to ensure the car moves away smoothly from a hill start.

One has to get used to the new terms.

Forward Collision Avoidance-Assist (FCA) is a bleeper connected to the car’s electronic systems.  It works in normal driving and parking.  So-called ‘radar’ sensors are switched on and detect a collision risk.

The car’s outstanding manoeuvrability all comes down to a steering rack for the Motor-Driven Power Steering (MDPS) system mounted lower than the previous model, 13% quicker requiring just 2.8 turns between the extremes of lock instead of the previous 3.4.  Along with the shorter front overhang, this considerably improves the responsiveness and agility in tight manoeuvres and parking. The Picanto has a tight turning circle of just 9.4metres.  With an 8-inch screen the reversing camera gives a really clear and crisp rearward view.

It is only a four-seater, with rear backrests folding down to give plenty of space for shopping.

This ‘GT-Line’ model (£14,650 and seven years warranty) has 16-inch alloy wheels plus sports front and rear bumpers with gloss black skid plates, a trim twin exhaust, black and red faux leather seats, matching black and red accents to the front armrests, a D-cut steering wheel, electric folding mirrors with LED indicators, satin chrome interior door handles, privacy glass on the rear windows and tailgate, bi-function projection headlamp units, LED daytime running lamps, rear lights and rear fog light, and a chrome beltline strip. The new touchscreen display, with DAB radio and RDS, is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.  If your mobile phone is equipped just place it in the tray and it is self-charged.

Getting in and out of the Picanto is very easy, even on the passenger side, something sometimes forgotten.  Simple seats settings, nothing electric.  The interior is all black plastic but of a reasonable quality and there are a number of places to put water bottles and other oddments, all well thought out.  With the small engine, and four up adults, you do have to keep your foot on the throttle, with a noisy effect but this does not seem to worry passengers looking out through the large side windows and well-arranged front screen.  

Around town the car is a real joy nipping in and out of gaps in the traffic and also being just 5ft 4in (1625mm) wide easy to place through restricted area obstacles.

No heated steering wheel nor USB in the back, but that is only needed for long motorway cruising with children in the back and plugging in their laptops.  This is not the case with the Picanto, not a touring car.

The new Picanto starts at £11,200, and with no electric windows for the back seat occupants.  That should not worry a driver.  Even on this cheapest model what we used to call the ‘wing mirrors’ still fold back electrically, even if not automatically when you press the remote entry key.  

The test car was very good value as noted (our dealer said he could do a deal) and comprehensively equipped.  

If you want an enjoyable basic car for the journey to work, or the school run, you can’t go wrong with the Kia Picanto.

Performance 5
Handling 8
Transmission 7
Noise 6
Economy 9
Ride and Comfort 7
Accommodation 6
Styling 7
Brakes 8
Finish 8


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