Kia Picanto review
Kia's new Picanto arrives this summer. And it has grown up!
Paddy Comyn

Published on April 12, 2011

The Picanto has gone and grown up and now looks like a serious small car contender.

In the metal 4/5

The styling of the Picanto, very much like the car itself, has grown up. While previously it had quite ‘cartoon-like’ styling, with the influence of the very talented Peter Schreyer very much in evidence these days, the Picanto has adopted the family face we have seen in cars like the Venga and this means wider bumpers that give the car a much more chunky and more substantial appearance. At the rear, the tail light design is particularly impressive and the car doesn’t look like it belongs in the A-segment, but now looks like a rival to larger models.

The car is a longer car than before, 60mm longer and there is a 15mm longer wheelbase and that will be welcome news to rear seat passengers. Inside, there is a marked improvement. It is a little difficult to judge properly since we don’t know the final specification for Ireland, but there are much better plastics than before and there is a really good driving position. Even for tall drivers, the front two will feel like there is more than enough legroom, as there is 36mm more legroom up front than before. You sit quite high in the Picanto and if you are quite wide, shoulder room could be a bit of an issue, but overall this is a car that feels much more substantial than it used to feel.

Driving it 3/5

The engine choice for Ireland is going to be easy to remember. There is just one. Ireland has chosen the 3-cylinder 69hp engine and before you throw your eyes to heaven, we have tried it and it is fine. It manages not to sound fussy and erratic like some and this writer actually mistook it for a four-cylinder. Sure enough, it lacks a little low down torque but it was able to cope well with a mixture of motorway, country road and city streets. The latter are where the Picanto feels at its most suited, but given the nature of our roads in Ireland we think that this car now feels better planted than before so dual carriageways and motorways won’t make the Picanto feel out of place.

There is not an awful lot of point discussing the handling merits or otherwise of this little A-segment car with less than 70hp, but it actually felt surprisingly sorted, which isn’t really that surprising given the fact that the car sits on a longer wheelbase and there has been considerable work to make the car more agile. The front suspension features an increased castor angle and 12 percent softer springs and shorter bump stops. At the rear, the torsion beam axle is 60 percent stiffer, with 20 percent softer springs.

What you get for your money 3/5

We don’t really know. Kia Ireland have been unwilling/unable to tell us very much about the specification of the new Picanto so far, but we reckon it will cost about €11,500 for an LX version and about €1,000 more for an EX version. We know all models will get A/C as standard. We would imagine that all models in Ireland would get Aux, USB and iPod compatibility. We will add more information as we get it.

Worth Noting

The A segment where Picanto competes represented 1.4% (2094 units) of the market in 2008, 2.7% (1541) units in 2009 and 2.9% (2533 units) in 2010. The Picanto share of this market in those years was 14 percent, 12 percent and 15 percent respectively. Last year this represented sales of 395 units, which included 211 scrappage units.


This is a super little A-segment car, which feels much more substantial and much better sorted than its key rivals.


Tech Specs

Model testedKia Picanto
Pricingfrom around €11,000
Engine1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol
Transmissionsix-speed manual/six-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door hatchback
RivalsHyundai i10, Ford Ka, Toyota Aygo
Tax BandA
Combined economy4.2 litres/100km (66.9mpg) - 4.1 litres/100km (68.9mpg)
Top speed153km/h
0-100km/h14.4 seconds
Power69hp at 6,200rpm
Torque95Nm at 3,500rpm