The previous generation of Picanto was one of the cheapest new cars in the UK. It offered a low cost way into the city car market, but there were plenty of reminders of its list price with cheap plastics, uninspiring styling and a poor Euro NCAP crash rating. Despite this, the model became an increasingly common sight, helped no end by the government’s scrappage scheme.
The new Picanto is tasked with competing head on with mainstream rivals in the hope that mainstream sales volumes will follow. The first thing you notice is that the styling is far more confident and altogether more European, with a reassuringly solid look. It is also physically bigger with more legroom and boot space.
The sweeping changes continue under the bonnet with a new 998cc 3-cylinder engine providing more power and torque than the outgoing 4-cylinder engine whilst also delivering improved fuel consumption. The compact engine contributes to a slight reduction in kerb weight which is impressive given the added length and quality feel.
Behind the wheel the cabin is well designed whilst all the switchgear feels admirably solid. The Picanto pulls off the trick of feeling more like a supermini than a city car, helped by good levels of refinement. There is slightly less fun to be had than in the sister Hyundai i10, with the Kia feeling a bit more grown up, but its light kerb weight means that it remains nimble.
Kia may have dropped the bargain price but the Picanto is still a cheap car and is arguably now better value due to the big hike in quality, excellent fuel economy and 7-year warranty. Euro NCAP is yet to test the new model but we expect a much better performance thanks to generous standard safety kit. All things considered it’s a contemporary and stylish addition to the market.