It looks sportier and can back up those looks
This is the third-generation Picanto, and kitted out with some higher-end GT Line sporty bits. Will that be enough to fend off style-conscious city cars like the VW Up or the Toyota Aygo?
Kia Picanto GT Line 1.2 MPI ISG
Price £12,500 (tbc)
Engine: 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 107mph
CO2/tax band: 104g/km, 19%
It’s certainly got quite an aggressive, confident air about it, from that bluff front end with its high-intensity foglamps through past those sideskirts to the oversized rear lights. All this is fitted to a heavily revised chassis which is stiffer and lighter than the previous model. It also has a longer wheelbase yet that front overhang has been shortened, adding to that bluff front end look.
Under the bonnet is the alternative to the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, a four-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol unit with 83bhp and 90lb/ft of torque. That’s not exactly supercar territory and the initial concern must be that there won’t be enough grunt to back up the looks.
However, the four-cylinder engine has enough low-down go to propel the Picanto forward with some decent enthusiasm. It’s not exactly a rocket ship, but this may well be either a first or second car for someone, and as such it’s about right. It pulls cleanly from about 2000rpm and is then fairly linear. Gear ratios are reasonably high for decent fuel economy so that does hinder acceleration, but overall it’s a responsive package.
The revised chassis and suspension means a firmer ride, one that can crash a bit on bad surfaces, but it also means the handling is quite crisp, with minimal roll and decent turn in, helped by some well-weighted steering input.
The engine is definitely more refined, something you’ll appreciate under all loads in the cabin. The cabin has decent space for four, and the front two seats are decently supportive and comfy. There are sporty touches like a flat-bottomed steering wheel and leather-look upholstery, but it’s unclear yet whether these will be standard on GT Line trim or an option.
The UK will get five trim levels: 1, 2, 3, GT Line and GT Line S. As yet we don’t know prices but they’ll probably be competitive. Will this GT Line be worth it? Of course that depends on the final price, but it also depends on the market. Older drivers might be concerned that the sporty appearance, and it is successfully sporty, will be at odds with a more mundane performance.
But Kia is after the 20-somethings here, not crusties, and a car that drives quite well, has some performance but isn’t scary and which looks pretty fit may well find some favour. Around town it’s great, being easy to manoeuvre and park, and it would make a practical daily transport just that bit more eye-catching. This might prove a winning combination.