The term ‘Small, but beautifully formed’ could well have been instigated for Kia’s microcar, the Picanto.
In a direct comparison about blending design and practicality, the Picanto walks all over my recent Italian rental car, the tiny, and useless Lancia Ypsilon.
Okay, you don’t expect the legroom of a Bentley Mulsanne when you buy a micro car; but my alltime best way to measure practicality is simple. Can I fit our two 64cm rollaway suitcases in the trunk?
As you’ll see the Picanto manages very nicely thank you. In addition the Kia performs much better than the Ypsilon, offers more interior space, rides comfortably and feels like a much more contemporary, well-resolved solution.
Born in 2003, and using a shortened Hyundai Getz platform, Kia’s first generation scored excellent brownie points in Europe – being praised highly by CAR magazine, AUTOCAR, and even the tough crew at TOP GEAR.
The original design came from Korea, but in 2011 Picanto received major styling changes penned by Park Kee-hong and Cho Kwae-jae in Kia’s Frankfurt studio, under the watchful eye of Kia’s Director of Design, Peter Schreyer. Later there was a styling refresh for the 2017MY.
One of the design tricks has been to create quite an ‘upright’ shape, which delivers maximum interior space; but that means you have to very clever about the external styling, given the small proportions and the challenging perspective. However, I think the design team has pulled it off.
After 300km, and pushing Picanto hard on the open roads of the Gold Coast Hinterland, and diving into the peak period traffic, the Picanto performed well, and returned an impressive, overall, 5.1 L/100km.
In Australia Picanto comes with the Euro-spec 1.25L engine, and a 4-speed torque converter automatic from the Hyundai transmission factory. It’s a good combination – the Picanto delivers sporty performance, and the transmission is well calibrated to make the most of 63kW.
The other impressive element is that the Picanto is very quiet on the road - engine noise, tyre and wind noise is well damped.
The equipment level leaves a lot of rivals in the dust. The touchscreen system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus there’s keyless entry, electric windows front and rear, plus electronic stability control, traction control, and vehicle stability management.
The Picanto is a cheeky-looking upstart that could definitely perform well for Kia, in a segment that is pretty thin on profit margins, as the sector is purely price-driven.
However, if I was responsible for choosing a safe, economical and value packed car for a young driver in possession of a nice, new, freshly-minted driving license, then Picanto would be my choice.
In addition to the attractive pricing, there’s a seven year warranty and a 5-star safety rating.
As soon as the youngster has taken delivery, you can boost their chances of survival by sending them off for some advanced driver training – then you’ve equipped them with the optimal safety package.