Someone wrote to us recently asking why Korean manufacturers have become so successful. It’s one of those questions where you feel like saying ‘how long have you got?’, but it’s also possible to answer in one word: product. Get the cars right and price them sensibly and you can’t go wrong.
Kia has been doing a lot of getting cars right recently. Soul, Sorento, Sportage… they’ve got plenty going for them, led by a new-found sense of style, ever-improving quality and smaller, more efficient engines. The pipeline is far from running dry. There’ll be an all-new Picanto in May and an equally new Rio in the autumn.
What is it?
The Picanto is based on the platform and engines of parent company Hyundai’ i10 – a promising starting point – but it’s more exciting-looking (anyone else see a hint of Ford’ Ka in it?) with a sharper, more European interior. The plastics are solid rather than squishy, but they still seem a grade or two better.
Safety is vastly improved over the old Picanto’s, with stability control likely to be standard, and you can have the sort of gadgetry you wouldn’t have found in a family hatch a year or two ago, right down to a heated steering wheel. However, it means the starting price will now be closer to £8000 than £7000.
The engines are a 68bhp three-cylinder 1.0 and an 84bhp four-cylinder 1.25, all capable of more than 60mpg with manual transmission. If the larger unit impresses for its flexibility – it pulls effortlessly, if not strongly, from just 1500rpm – the three-pot has an endearing thruminess that makes you enjoy having to work it to extract its modest performance. The common denominator is refinement: both are smooth and well silenced.
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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