What are you driving?
The third generation of the Kia Picanto, and my how it has grown up. While the original was something you'd hope not to get stuck with by a budget car hire company on a Spanish holiday, the 2017 model is vying for top spot in the class against its first cousin, the Hyundai i10. We already tested the all-singing, all-dancing TX EDAS version of the Picanto on the international launch, but here we have it in entry-level EX guise, powered by the naturally aspirated 1.0-litre petrol engine. This one doesn't have all the extra new safety equipment, but it's probably quite representative of what Irish buyers will actually pay for with their own money.
Name its best bits
There's a lot to like, from the styling of the front end to the wide-opening rear doors and (relatively speaking) large boot. Inside, while the cabin is still made of hard plastics for the most part, it feels better built and uses more tactile switchgear than before. The high-mounted infotainment system also gives it a modern air, while there are loads of little clever touches, such as the large and well-lit vanity mirror behind the sunshade and adjustable cupholder storage in the centre console.
On the road, the new Picanto feels like a bigger car. It's stable on the motorway and never feels out of its depth, riding with real maturity over bumps, whether you're flying along an open road or battling with rush hour in the city. Top marks for the suspension development, which is close to class-best, we reckon.
Anything that bugs you?
While the feisty little three-cylinder petrol engine has plenty of go and is also surprisingly refined at a cruise, its output seems mismatched with the ratios of the five-speed manual gearbox, meaning there's a yawning chasm between first and second and then second and third, resulting in performance flat spots unless you use more revs before changing up. This is probably exacerbated by the fact that we're all used to driving turbocharged engines, now, but we don't expect the target buyer to trouble the red line very often, so they'll certainly notice this characteristic. A new turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine will be offered in the Picanto in time, which should eradicate the issue.
And why have you given it this rating?
We really like the new Kia Picanto. It's a league above its predecessor and a decent town car that isn't like a fish out of water when leaving the city limits. No doubt it'll be even better with a new engine.
I want to know more
If there is anything specific you'd like to know about the Kia Picanto that we've not covered, feel free to send us a question via the Ask Us Anything page.