In this section:
- Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
- Suspension and ride comfort
- Noise and vibration
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Kia Picanto's non-turbocharged 66bhp 1.0 MPi petrol engine is available with the majority of trims and with a manual or automatic gearbox, which makes it a compelling choice. Well, on paper at least. In reality, it feels very underpowered and you often need to use full power just to keep up with traffic. We timed one at our private test track accelerating from 0-60mph in a sedentary 14.9 seconds. The automatic is even slower, with an official time of 16.6sec.
The reason the auto gearbox slows the Picanto down is the time it takes to change gear. It's basically the manual gearbox with a robot doing the clutch and gears for you behind the scenes. Every gear change takes a second or so, which can be a bit frustrating, but if you really want an auto and can accept its foibles, it's okay. If not, try the Dacia Sandero with its CVT automatic. CVT gearboxes aren't always great either, but it’s quite a bit smoother. We'd absolutely suggest a test drive in both before you make a decision, though.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Picanto doesn't ride as slickly as some rivals, including the Sandero, the Hyundai i10 and the VW Up. It jostles you around more over scraggy town roads and has some extra fidget along pimpled sections of motorway.
It's all relative, though. In truth, it’s far from uncomfortable, especially if you avoid the larger 16in alloy wheels that are fitted to top trims. And the good thing is that, being a little firmer sprung than its rivals, it doesn't bounce around along undulating country roads.