On reading all the professional reviews for the Kia Picanto, I found I was the opposite of the stereotypical intended purchaser. Why would I, a mid-20s male, and who is interested in cars, want a Picanto as my main car?
Simple. In the Picanto, I think have found one of the most underrated packages on the Australian car market.
After taking both the Picanto, and the new Rio S for a test drive, my mind was settled instantly. I’ll take the Picanto, and yes, I want the bright green one.
As someone who does mostly local, urban driving, with occasional freeway runs, the Picanto is completely acceptable performance-wise. While you will never beat the Commodore SS next to you at the lights, does that really matter?
The 1.25-litre matched to a CVT will get you where you need to be without any drama. While CVTs aren’t loved by all, I can’t think of any instances of poor gear changes or lag. I’ve heard the manual can be more fun, yet I personally feel it might prove difficult to sell on in the future if need be.
Fourteen-inch steelies sit on Nexen or Kumho OE tyres. Mine was fitted with the Nexen HD Blues which provide plentiful grip in all conditions. Kia’s Australian suspension tune provides fantastic handling which in my opinion, cannot be beaten for this type of car.
Now without getting into badge rivalries, I find Kia (along with Hyundai) to have bulletproof manufacturing standards. For the price tag, the car feels as solid as something more premium, with an understated, neat interior and tasteful cloth seats.
A rear-view camera, touchscreen and Android Auto/Apple Carplay come as standard and further add value to a pleasing package.
Getting in, the front is as spacious as needed. A recurring theme of this car with my friends/family is how surprisingly roomy it is when up front. The back, however, is another story.
While this car “seats five” I’d recommend to treat it as a two-seater. It can get a bit tight in the second row if the front seats are pushed back. While this would understandably be a deal breaker for those who constantly seat more than two, I see it as a good way of not being everyone’s free Uber. Fuel economy hovers around 6.0L/100km running on E10.
As a Kia, you get that unbeatable seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and with yearly/ 15000km service intervals (averaging about $300) further adds value to this already tempting offer.
I love my Picanto, and have not regretted this purchase once. However, being a Picanto owner comes with one glaring downside, one that has absolutely nothing to do with the car itself. And that is everyone’s perception.
In a country obsessed with dual-cab utes and bigger and bigger SUVs, being a male that purposefully purchases a micro-car can be anathema to some. Be prepared to hear such witty comments as “Where’s the rest of it?” or THAT adjective, “cute.”
While these comments don’t faze me at all, it does provide an insight to Australian car buyers. As a nation, we love bigger and brasher, and to buy something else can seem downright odd.
It’s clear this car isn’t designed for every person’s needs, yet what it does do, it does exceedingly well. It doesn’t have every bell and whistle, but for the asking price, you get a lot of modern kit.
To those who may be searching for a car for whatever reason, I do encourage you to give the Picanto a test drive.You may just be pleasantly surprised.