Kia Picanto X-Line

1.25 MPI

Kia Picanto, front static
Kia Picanto, front action
Kia Picanto, side action
Kia Picanto, rear action
Kia Picanto, dashboard
Kia Picanto, rear seats
Kia Picanto, front seats
Kia Picanto, rear static
Kia Picanto, boot

IT was a big white BMW that did it first - belting past our little Kia as a blind corner approached and only Lady Luck to keep the other side of the road empty.

Then it happened again. And again, to the extent you began to wonder if a Kia Picanto in vivid Lime Light green is actually invisible to drivers of bigger, more powerful machines.

Perhaps the thrusters at the wheels of their executive expresses reckon anyone in a small hatchback must be travelling at tottering-to-the-chemist speed and simply sees them as an impediment to progress.

Whatever, this baby of the Kia range ought to be highly visible to anyone after a soundly made and very well specified family runaround - ironically perhaps the perfect car to sit alongside the company BMW on the drive.

And it's not slow either. The Picanto has no problem cutting it in the give and take of a British workaday drive, so long as you're prepared to rev its smooth little engine and work a light and positive five-speed gearbox.

It will then perhaps surprise drivers of some much larger cars while keeping its fuel economy the right of 40mpg too - in 500 miles on test this Picanto showed an encouraging 42.4mpg overall.

This third generation Picanto has - thankfully - bucked the trend of making each successive generation bigger than before.

Precisely the same modest length and width as the outgoing car, the new third generation Kia is marginally taller, with a much bigger boot and a bit more space for passengers in the back thanks to adding distance between front and rear wheels.

More use of stronger steel - and applying a lot more glue to joints in the body - has added rigidity and helped the car lose a little weight while allowing the engineers to design a more responsive suspension and steering system in aid of the much vaunted sportiness that seems mandatory on every new car model.

To these eyes this latest Picanto looks cheekily modern and utterly non threatening, in sharp contrast to the aggressive wings and vents approach of many modern models.

It reveals its modest size on bumpy roads, where the wheels have to work hard to dampen the bumps and troughs of today's British main roads. Ease off the pace and the Picanto settles down.

You'll then have more time to appreciate a car that in X-Line trim (towards the top of a range that starts at £9,500) includes goodies like alloy wheels, electric windows all round, remote central locking, air conditioning, touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a reversing camera that makes you look a seasoned pro in the supermarket car park.

FAST FACTS

Kia Picanto X-Line 1.25 MPI

Price: £12,600

Mechanical: 83bhp, 1,248cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 107mph

0-62mph: 11.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 61.4

Insurance Group: 7

C02 emissions: 106g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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