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Kia Picanto S manual 2017 review

Is the new generation Kia Picanto a can-do or a can’t-do car?
EXPERT RATING
7
Is the new generation Kia Picanto a can-do or a can’t-do car? We spent a week living with the Picanto S manual to find out.

Is the new generation Kia Picanto a can-do or a can’t-do car? We spent a week living with the Picanto S manual to find out.

Pssst. Want a media leak? Here’s one for you. Rumour has it Kia wants us to pronounce the name of its micro car the Picanto a certain way. Word is it wants the ‘cant’ part to be said as you’d say ‘canteen’ and definitely not in the way you’d say ‘can’t’. It’s a positive perception thing – you know, it’s a car that ‘can’. 

Of course it’s all gossip, but does Kia really have anything to be worried about? Is the new generation Kia Picanto a can-do or a can’t-do car? Rivals are thin on the ground in this micro car segment but the Holden Spark impressed us hugely when we drove it. There’s also the stylish Fiat 500 and the super popular Mitsubishi Mirage.

See our Kia Picanto range review here

We spent a week living with the Picanto S manual. We picked up the kids, did the shopping, commuted in peak hour traffic, took it on our regular test loop and discovered uncharted ‘for us’ narrow urban laneways. So what can and can’t it do? We found out.

Kia Picanto 2017: S (AEB)
Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$8,690

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

There’s only one grade of Picanto now – the S. The manual gearbox Picanto lists for $14,190 ($1500 more for the auto) and for what you get it’s great value for money.

I’ve bought cars without an engine for more than this and they didn’t come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen. I’ve bought cars without an engine for more than this and they didn’t come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen.

Seriously, I’ve bought cars without an engine for more than this and they didn’t come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen and reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, four speaker stereo, USB port, power windows front and back, cruise control, heated mirrors, auto headlights, DRLs and rear parking sensors.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

A car’s wheelbase normally dictates cabin space and at 2400mm the Picanto’s is 15mm longer than the Holden Spark’s. Still, for somebody as tall as me (I’m 191cm), those back seats are cramped – I can’t sit behind my driving position without jamming my knees into the seatback. For the record I don’t fit in the back of a Spark either.

There are some large cars that seem way more confined due to their large centre consoles. There are some large cars that seem way more confined due to their large centre consoles.

Up front the Picanto feels as spacious as almost any small car, actually there are some large cars that seem way more confined due to their large centre consoles and low rooflines. The Picanto has great head and shoulder room up front. 

Storage isn’t bad for this segment. There’s a large area in front of the shifter which doubles as two adjustable cup holders or a lunch box-sized space for keys and wallets, there’s an L-shaped storage bin next to the handbrake, bottle holders in the front doors and one cup holder for the back row.

For somebody as tall as me (I’m 191cm), those back seats are cramped. For somebody as tall as me (I’m 191cm), those back seats are cramped.

Boot space is great for a micro car at 255 litres – that’s 15 litres more cargo capacity than the Mitsubishi Mirage and the Suzuki Celerio. That said, we couldn’t get our medium-sized pram in there – a smaller one should fit. If you need to put a pram in the back, test it first before buying.

Boot space is great for a micro car at 255 litres. Boot space is great for a micro car at 255 litres.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

There’s only one grade of Picanto now – the S. The manual gearbox Picanto lists for $14,190 ($1500 more for the auto) and for what you get it’s great value for money.

I’ve bought cars without an engine for more than this and they didn’t come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen. I’ve bought cars without an engine for more than this and they didn’t come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen.

Seriously, I’ve bought cars without an engine for more than this and they didn’t come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen and reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, four speaker stereo, USB port, power windows front and back, cruise control, heated mirrors, auto headlights, DRLs and rear parking sensors.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   6/10

Inside that little scrunched up nose is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which has an output of 62kW/122Nm - that’s a smidge less than the Spark’s power and torque.

The Picanto has a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. (62kW, 122Nm) The Picanto has a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. (62kW, 122Nm)

Our car had the five-speed manual gearbox, there’s a four speed automatic transmission if you’d prefer.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

Kia says the combined fuel consumption of the Picanto is 5.0L/100km with the manual gearbox. We kept our test to mainly urban terrain which Kia says will see a higher figure of 6.3L/100km. Our car’s trip meter was registering an average of 10.5L/100km.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

Parallel parking space anxiety (also known as PPSA) affects everybody. You pull up beside a space that seems enormous and it’s not until you’re halfway into your parallel park that it becomes clear you’re not going to fit. Meanwhile, traffic is banking up, the pressure is mounting, before you have to abort and do the drive of shame up the road. Not once did this happen in the Picanto. 

For me, the best part of driving the Picanto was knowing it would be easy to park in front of my flat and easy to navigate through the tiny lanes where I work (avoiding meandering hipsters at the same time). Must say though, the steering could be lighter.

The engine has less power than the Holden Spark and there were steep hills that made the little Picanto work hard – with just me on board. The manual gearbox will also keep you busy. I found myself shifting constantly to keep the engine happy. I reckon the automatic might be the way to go, here.

The ride though, is excellent for a micro car, more comfortable and composed than even some so called prestige cars out there.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

The new Picanto hasn't been tested by ANCAP yet, but it's worth noting the out-going model was awarded the maximum five-star rating. The 2017 car's eventual score will be interesting because there’s nothing in the way of advanced safety equipment such as AEB fitted. There is ABS, disc brakes front and back, plus traction and stability control.

You’ll find three top tethers and two ISOFIX child restraint location points across the rear seat, too.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

The Picanto is covered by Kia’s outstanding seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty. There’s roadside assistance and capped price servicing for the duration, too.

Kia recommends service every year or 15,000km, and quotes a guide price for scheduled service for the first seven years of ownership, with cost ranging from $272 to $415, for a total of $2055. Kia's website even details everything that will be replaced, inspected and reset during each visit. Bravo.

Verdict

The Kia Picanto is excellent value for money. That engine could do with more grunt, the steering could be lighter, but the Picanto is still easy to drive and parking is anxiety free. A quality feeling cabin, good boot space, plus a comfortable ride make it easily one of the bets in this segment.

Is the Picanto the perfect city car? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Pricing Guides

$12,990
Based on 25 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$11,490
Highest Price
$14,690

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT-LINE 1.2L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $10,890 – 14,850 2017 KIA PICANTO 2017 GT-LINE Pricing and Specs
S (AEB) 1.2L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $9,790 – 13,420 2017 KIA PICANTO 2017 S (AEB) Pricing and Specs
S (PHASE 2) 1.2L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $9,790 – 13,420 2017 KIA PICANTO 2017 S (PHASE 2) Pricing and Specs
Si 1.2L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $11,490 – 14,690 2017 KIA PICANTO 2017 Si Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Design7
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans6
Fuel consumption6
Driving7
Safety6
Ownership9
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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