Kia takes you on a trip down memory lane with the Picanto

If you have ventured into a car showroom recently, the price of cars may have left you surprised. Even shocked.
Kia Picanto - the latest version in front and its predecessors followingKia Picanto - the latest version in front and its predecessors following
Kia Picanto - the latest version in front and its predecessors following

I consider myself a bit of an expert at pricing cars. I used to be able to guess most models to within a couple of hundred pounds but either I’ve lost my touch or prices have soared. I suspect the latter.

It’s no wonder, really, that prices are rising considering the rise of everything that goes into a car. And the fact that many are hybrid these days, meaning you are buying in effect two engines for your car.

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But just this week I had a little trip down memory lane, courtesy of Kia. Some of its once-spartan models have shifted comfortably to the premium market with prices to match but there is still a bargain or two be had.

Tested here is the Picanto. Yours from £13,400 which believe me is competitive. It is claimed that this is the cheapest car on the road undercutting Dacia. No doubt if you’re interested, you could set your local Kia and Dacia dealer to battle to see who comes up with the best price.

But Picanto claims officially to be the cheapest. Even the test model, Picanto 2, is £14,445 and that comes with some impressive bells and whistles.

It’s also a much bigger and wider car than earlier Picantos and it looks more substantial too. Yet it has wonderfully simple controls. You won’t have to park up to alter the heating settings or change the radio channel.

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It is a traditional car, too. Not a hybrid or an electric – a proper petrol model which is a rare thing these days. You can here the engine, which may be a comforting sound to some. It won’t be long before it will be a nostalgic sound in the same way steam-powered trains were a few generations ago.

Picanto is the smallest model offered by Kia in the UK.

But it offers a range of safety and telematics technologies often reserved for larger, more expensive vehicles.

The model also boasts low emissions from an efficient 1.0-litre powertrain, and a striking design inside and out.

I took it on the motorway too and unlike some city cars it didn’t feel at all out of place.

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Advanced connectivity and driver assistance features keep occupants fully in touch with the outside world while minimising the risk of accidents. The modern platform features high-strength steel, boosting strength and safety, and the range includes a ‘GT-Line’ variant to add a level of sportiness to the Picanto line-up.

All models are powered by upgraded versions of the 1.0-litre petrol engine, now with lower fuel consumption and emissions. Picanto is capable of up to 58.9mpg, with emissions from 109g/km. In line with market demand, the Picanto is available only as a five-door car.

There are eight versions of the Picanto on offer in the UK, based on one engine, two transmissions and five trim lines – grades 1, 2, GT-Line, 3 and X-Line S.

But while Picanto may not have grown massively on the outside, ingenious design has created more space inside for both passenger and luggage space. Boot capacity is a class-best at 255 litres and this increases to 1,010 litres with the rear seats folded.

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The compact hatchback now wears a design which ties with other models in Kia’s range of vehicles, with a new front bumper, ‘tiger nose’ grill and rear light signature being key elements that differentiate this model from its predecessor.

It’s also optionally available with LED headlights and daytime running lights which give a more noticeable ‘face’ during darkness. All cars come on 14in alloy wheels as standard, though both 15in and 16in versions can be added as an optional extra.

A base trim level brings black cloth seats as standard, as well as a new eight-inch ‘floating’ infotainment screen and 4.2-inch digital display for the driver. All versions come with Bluetooth connectivity as standard, too, alongside both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All Picanto models also get over-the-air functionality, allowing systems such as the navigation and infotainment to be wirelessly updated.

New Picanto comes with the choice of two engines: customers can choose between a 1.0-litre or a 1.2-litre petrol engine. The 1.0-litre engine is a good choice for customers who value efficiency above all, while the 1.2-litre engine is better for customers who want more power, especially for driving at high speeds or uphill. Both options maximise efficiency and lower emissions. The naturally aspirated engines feature improved exhaust gas recirculation lines and optimised intake valve timing. In addition, each engine provides improved combustion chamber cooling thanks to new improvements made in this field.

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Both engines drive the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission (5MT) or via Kia’s Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), which is based around a five-speed manual transmission with clutch and gear shift actuators to automate their respective functions. The AMT offers the best of both worlds: it combines the fuel efficiency of a conventional manual transmission with the convenience of a hassle-free automatic transmission that makes urban traffic much more comfortable.

Picanto delivers on its trademark quick, enjoyable handling responses, aided by independent MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a torsion beam rear axle – without sacrificing its high ride stability. Moreover, its relatively long wheelbase of 2,400mm contributes to a natural improvement in ride quality and stability on all types of roads.

Not a bad package. A comfortable, capable car which is arguably the best value motor on the road.

Kia Picanto 2

Price: £14,445. Range starts at £13,695 and rises to £18,275

Engine: A 998cc three cylinder engine generating 66bhp

Performance: Top speed 100mph and 0 to 60mph in 14.1 seconds

Economy: 58.9mpg combined

Emissions: 110g/km

Insurance: Group 5

Warranty: Seven years, 100,000 miles

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