Sporty new Kia

Picanto

Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, front
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, nose, action
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, front, static
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, front, action
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, side, action
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, side, static
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, rear, action
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, rear
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, rear, static
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, boot
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, door pull
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, exhausts
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, rear seats
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, pedals
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, interior
Kia Picanto GT-Line, 2017, instruments
Kia Picanto GT-Line S, 2017, console
Kia Picanto GT-Line S, 2017, interior

SMALL cars have to be big on everything these days and Kia's new baby Picanto is bursting on to the scene packed with plenty.

With more and more motorists demanding a big car experience whatever they drive, bargain basement models are out.

What's in is style, comfort and connectivity - performance is welcome but not essential.

So ushering in the third generation Picanto Kia has gone for smart new looks and trendy technology all round.

A touchscreen display complete with sat nav and smartphone compatability is part and parcel of the new Picanto GT-Line S range topper and so is emergency braking, heated seats and even a heated steering wheel while all versions of the latest Korean mini car have torque vectoring control to aid handling.

In the little car sector that's a lot and the latest Picanto remains right on the money priced from £9,450 to £13,950 or from £129 a month on contract hire.

That's a few hundred pounds more than the previous model but what you get with the newcomer is a sea change on all fronts.

The car looks much more dynamic with angular design front, side and rear and boot space has grown to supermini proportions of 250 litres stretching to 1,010 litres with the rear seats down.

Inside, the cabin has been spruced up, comes with an airy feel and high grade versions have a seven-inch full colour display in the middle of the dash.

At 11ft 9.5-ins long it covers exactly the same footprint as before but is a fraction higher and the wheelbase has been increased adding a few more millimetres inside for a bit of extra space, especially in the back.

It is now a five-door model only and the three-door option of the previous generations has been discontinued.

Under the bonnet is a choice of two petrol engines - a 1.0-litre developing 66bhp or a 1.2 with 83bhp on tap and later in the year a turbo version of the three pot 1.0-litre block will be joining the range with a lively 100bhp.

While not new the engines have been updated on the emissions front with the 1.0-litre now rated at 101g/km and 106 for the 1.2 with five speed manual transmissions.

That equates to official fuel returns of 64.2 and 61.4mpg respectively.

An automatic, priced from £11,900, is available with the 1.2-litre model and that is rated at 52.3 with a CO2 figure of 124g/km.

On the road the new Picanto feels much sturdier than before and handles with no bad habits. Noise levels inside are well suppressed - much quieter than before - and on the road the composure of the car is nicely refined, especially for a model in this class.

Improvements to the power steering have elicited more feel and feedback while the gear change has a positive action which makes it sweet to drive.

Both engines perform adequately although the added power from the 1.2 gives it an edge when it comes to motorway work. Officially 0 to 60 times are 13.8 and 11.6 seconds with top speeds of 100mph for the three cylinder 1.0-litre model and 107 for the 1.2 which is a four cylinder.

During our evaluation - and the cars we sampled had only a few hundred miles on the clock - the 1.2-litre returned an average of 50 to the gallon with the 1.0-litre showing 46mpg over similar routes.

Both felt willing and suggested they would only get better as the engines loosened up with more miles under their belts.

The new Picanto is available in five trim levels - 1, 2, 3, GT-Line and GT-Line S - and the latter two grades will appeal to a younger audience.

With sporty features such as coloured trim inserts, an aggressive nose and some garnish in the front grille, the Picanto will turn a few heads and the GT-Line cars also have twin exhausts and stylish 16-inch alloys.

The GT-Line S - which is fitted with the 1.2 engine only and tops the range - is particularly swish and includes automatic air conditioning, a sun roof and a high definition reversing camera which makes manoeuvring and parking a cinch.

There's also leather-effect upholstery complete with coloured inserts, smart, gloss red gloss flashes in the door pulls and sporty metal pedals.

The other GT-Line Picantos are based on level 2 trim which means they lack the touchscreen and its associated functions but still have most of the other extras. They are priced from £11,950 for the 1.0-litre and £12,450 for the 1.2.

Pitched against the likes of the Renault Twingo, Citroen C1 and the Volkswagen up!, Kia's new offering dares to be different - and it's got the just the right amount of street cred to make an impression with drivers young and old.

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