The KIA Picanto has arrived!
As Reviewed by Sam Charlwood of Drive.com.au. The 2016 Kia Picanto isn’t a vehicle you’d typically associate with headline numbers. Kia’s micro car entered Australian showrooms in April as one of the most affordable new vehicles on sale in the country, priced at $14,990 drive away.
Backed by the manufacturer’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and a capped price servicing scheme expected to cost less than $1000 for the first three years, the five-door hatchback also measures well in the ownership stakes.
But numbers alone are hardly a measure for success in Australia’s increasingly competitive new car market, and they have been heavily stacked against the Picanto (that’s Pee-can-toe) in recent years. Already five years old on the global stage and due to be superseded by a newer version within the next 18 months, the European-designed and South Korean-built Picanto has never reached our shores until now because of a perceived lack of demand – a trend evidenced by Hyundai and Volkswagen pulling their micro car offerings.
Rather than undercutting its key rivals on price, Kia has taken a more holistic approach to making the Picanto work locally, one banked on substance and equipment. As such, the new model will take on the likes of the Mitsubishi Mirage ($11,990 plus on-road costs), Suzuki Celerio ($12,990 plus on-road costs) and Holden Spark ($13,990 plus on-road costs) with a comprehensive suite of standard equipment comprising Bluetooth and USB connectivity, air-conditioning, power windows and mirrors, rear parking sensors, a multi-function trip computer and an anti theft immobiliser. Six airbags and modern safety driver aids including anti-locking brakes, stability control, traction control and hill-start assist will be another selling point, helping culminate in a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Some seat time soon highlights the driver’s cushy and comfortable cloth chair, complimented by six-way adjustment. Storage spaces are both abundant and resourceful up front, particularly the nifty central cupholders which flick into place at the press of a button. The only thing really stopping the driver from getting comfortable is the lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel. An arm rest or middle console to lean on would also be appreciated on longer journeys.
It’s a similar scenario at the rear – minus the storage, which is virtually non-existent. Head room and toe room are befitting for two six-foot adults, but limited knee space and the absence of rear air vents means seat time is best suited to short journeys rather than long hops.
Split-folding rear seats expand luggage space from 200 litres to 605 litres in the boot, which houses a space-saver spare tyre.
The over-riding sensation with the Picanto is that it feels well put together. The respective dash panels, comprising a mix of different materials, align consistently, and there are no squeaks or rattles as we commence a 150km drive route in and around the streets of Canberra.
Moving up to speed between roundabouts and traffic lights scattered throughout the capital, the Picanto is certainly no leader in noise and vibration suppression, with a constant hum through its driver seat and ever-present road noise entering the cabin. Even so, light, faithful steering and excellent bump suppression imbues the micro car with a pleasant demeanour in everyday driving.
Measuring only 3.6-metres long, the Picanto U-turns on a dime when a wrong turn is encountered (its official turning circle is 9.8 metres), making it a formidable acquaintance in the daily grind.
The engine, a 1.25-litre four-cylinder petrol, offers up 63kW and 120Nm outputs and is matched solely with a four-speed automatic that sends drive through the front wheels. It has more verve than the typical three-pot alternatives offered in this class, striking up an adequate balance between everyday performance and economy – in the latter regard going just above the Picanto’s 5.3L/100km claim.
The Picanto feels planted on an extended highway stint, even though the engine is spinning at about 3000rpm. The Kia redeems itself well as a formidable everyday runabout. Even though it is about to be replaced, the diminutive hatch not only looks the goods on paper, but stacks up quite well out on the road.
Kia Picanto price and specification:
- On sale: NOW – April 2016
- Price: $14,990 plus on-road costs
- Engine: 1.25-litre four-cylinder petrol
- Power: 63kW at 6000rpm
- Torque: 120Nm at 4000rpm
- Transmission: Four-speed automatic, FWD
- Fuel use: 5.3L/100km combined
Test Drive NOW at Col Crawford KIA, 499 Pittwater Rd, Brookvale Ph. 9941 1208
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