Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the 2016 Kia Picanto with specs, fuel consumption and verdict. 

The Kia Picanto is a small city car that's loaded with standard equipment and comes in at a very attractive price of just $14,990. That's for a five-door car with automatic transmission and is driveaway.

This market segment isn't strong in Australia at present, which is a shame as these small economy cars are really all that many people need.

It's early days yet - the little Kia Picanto has only been on sale here since April - and is now neck and neck with the previously all-conquering Mitsubishi Mirage in the sales race.

Styling

Tall, cheeky styling makes a statement in the new Kia Picanto. It has big headlights, the Kia 'Tiger' nose design and mesh grilles. The sculpted side features a rising character line with the rear fringed by what Kia calls 'inverted comma' taillights.

Around town the little Picanto is nimble in traffic and has good visibility.

There's an attractive chrome trim finish on the bottom of the dashboard and lower part of the steering wheel.

Our review Picanto came in a daffodil yellow colour which was always simple to spot in carparks crammed with an endless array of boring grey coloured vehicles.

Engine/transmission

The Kia Picanto is powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine in some markets, but only a 1.2-litre four-cylinder is imported to Australia. With only 64kW of power and 123Nm of torque it's no ball of fire. However, this diminutive 3.6-metre long hatch weighs in at a lightweight 960 kilograms.

Having only four forward ratios in the automatic can be a drawback in some country driving, but is generally fine around town. See the driving impressions later in this report.

Multimedia

Multimedia features are limited to the Bluetooth phone and audio streaming with information displayed on a small red-on-black screen. USB and Aux sockets are recessed above a phone-sized space.

Safety

It's not easy to make small cars safe because of the limited room for building in crumple zones and side intrusion bars. But the Kia engineers have done well and Picanto comes to us with a five-star ANCAP rating.

It has six airbags; ABS brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist; stability and traction control; daytime running lights; outer rear seat IsoFix child-seat anchorage points; and emergency-stop signal.

There is no reversing camera but rear parking sensors are standard.

Driving

The front seats are comfortable enough, but as the car has no sporting pretensions they don't really offer much in the way of side support. The back seat can cope with adults if the folks in the front are willing to give up a bit of legroom. But to Australian minds it's not really a four-seater.

Boot space at 200 litres is good for this class, with good depth and the ability to carry plenty of shopping or a duo or trio of cabin bags. Folding down the 60/40 seatbacks increases luggage space to 605 litres.

Picanto is clearly a car aimed at singles, couples and young families, which is the norm in this class. It fulfils those duties well.

The major controls are large and well-placed. The steering wheel is height adjustable only, something that didn't cause us any hassles, but try for yourself during your private road test out of a Kia dealership.

While you're never going to mistake the interior for that of a midsize upmarket car it's certainly in the topline in its class.

Around town the little Picanto is nimble in traffic and has good visibility to let you keep track of the traffic all round. It's easy to park, again due to the excellent visibility and also to the fact that there isn't a lot of car in the first place.

Out of town it's happy to motor at motorway speeds, though the engine is working at 3400rpm on 110km/h motorways. Hills do cause it problems but locking out fourth gear gets it to the top without stressing the engine.

Around town fuel use is in the seven to eight litres per hundred kilometres range, about average for this class. On the open road there's no trouble getting it down into the fives.

Comfort is well sorted and while you're never going to mistake the interior for that of a midsize upmarket car it's certainly in the topline in its class. Likewise, noise and vibration are well isolated.

Handling is good without being in any way aimed at the keen driver. It's a little vague in the central position of the steering and the car is inclined to move about a bit in crosswinds or when large trucks pass in the other direction.