City drivers like comfort and manoeuvrability and now they are also getting more room in a tight package. Kia’s new Picanto offers more in terms of space and features in a car that has been modernised and up-styled as Michael MoroneY experienced during his recent test drive.
Small cars that are designed for city driving don’t seem to get bigger; they just seem to have become more spacious. As we live in tighter spaces, the car designers have responded with vehicles that maintain a smaller footprint on the road, are more economical, yet more spacious.
All of those features are noticeably obvious in Kia’s upgraded Picanto, which has been refreshed with some modern features and more internal space. The car retains the same overall length as the previous mini car from the Korean brand, but now packs in more space in all areas of the car.
There’s more legroom and knee room in the front by subtle repositioning of the dash area. In the rear, the positions of the wheels have been moved to give a slightly longer wheelbase. More importantly, this gives extra boot space that’s valuable to city drivers.
The other benefit of the longer wheelbase is that the wheels have been pushed further out to the corners of the car. This means that there is less overhang and that should make tight parking spots easier to manoeuvre into.
The new Picanto is also an economical small car. I’ve compared it with other city cars such as the Hyundai i10, Volkswagen up! and the Toyota Aygo where Picanto’s three-cylinder petrol engine is a match in terms of economy performance.
My city driving was more limited than unusual making it difficult to achieve the rated fuel economy figure of 23m/litre (4.4/100km or 53mpg). With regular city driving, I expect that the Picanto can come close to 20% off that figure, which makes it still a cost-effective small car to own.
Out on the larger and faster road, this new Picanto can hold its own. The three-cylinder petrol engine is lively and for those with a passion for pace a new turbo-charged version of the engine in on the way for later this year.
Kia’s five-speed gearbox is light to use, while the modest engine performance does push the rev counter into the higher less economical zone for those with higher speed ambitions. And that delivers predicable poorer fuel economy results.
So much of this new car is about its packaging for more space, while not compromising on safety. On the inside the dashboard layout is now more centrally aligned, with a large 7.0-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen sitting in the centre of the console. This design moves many of the car’s controls further up into the driver’s line of sight.
The large floating 7.0-inch HMI touchscreen at the centre of the dashboard also houses a navigation system with 3D map, and is available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full smart phone integration. It also converts to a screen for the rear-view parking camera to make parking manoeuvres much easier. There is an optional wireless smart phone charger and USB port at the base of the centre console to keep mobile devices charged on the move.
For the Picanto the larger boot area is a key selling point. Kia claims that it has best-in-class packaging efficiency, with improved versatility resulting from its larger cabin and boot capacity. And a comparison with the competition proves that point, although it’s very near in capacity to its related and slightly cheaper Hyundai i10.
Kia’s new Picanto adds extra features to a more spacious small car that’s versatile, while priced at €13,295 it’s marginally more expensive than its nearest competition. Kia’s 7 year warranty is part of the appeal, its safety standing is recognised and its space makes this compact city car a little special.