What's the used Kia Picanto hatchback like?
A sensible city car is, on the face of it, perhaps not the most exciting used car. But the quality of today’s city cars means buying one needn’t leave you wanting for the creature comforts of something larger. The Kia Picanto is a case in point.
For one thing, it’s a handsome little blighter; from every angle, the Picanto manages to look cute enough to be charming, while retaining enough upmarket touches to still feel smart.
Inside, the story’s the same, with a handsome dashboard design that doesn’t look like it’s built down to a price. The plastics are hard, as you’ll find with most other city cars, but they’re robust, and the smooth, weighty-feeling switchgear means everything you touch lends an air of quality.
You can pick between petrol engines of either 1.0-litre, 1.0-litre turbocharged or 1.25-litre. The 66bhp 1.0 is a sweet unit, but the 1.25 is obviously the punchier. Meanwhile, the turbocharged 1.0-litre is the keener of the three. It was introduced later in the Picanto's life so examples are not quite so common on the used market.
Some lower-specification versions come with a fairly poor stereo system that lacks features such as a colour screen that you’ll find on like-for-like rivals. However, for the most part, the Picanto’s well equipped. Trim-wise, the Picanto's entry-level 1 trim is fairly Spartan and on the used market fairly rare. Fortunately, there are plenty of cars available with 2 trim, and with these you get a decent slug of equipment – alloy wheels, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and a leather steering wheel all come as standard, although you'd still have to live with a rather basic infotainment system. The 3 trim gives you a slick colour screen with sat-nav; you also get climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. GT-Line, meanwhile, adds sportier looks to the 2 model, while top-of-the-range GT-Line S has luxuries you’d usually only find on a much pricier car, such as heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
Or if you’re feeling particularly rakish, you can opt for the SUV-inspired X-Line, with its taller ride height and butch bumpers; we wouldn’t, though, since you pay a whole lot extra, even on the used car forecourt, over the 3 version on which it’s based.
Around town, light steering and good visibility make the Picanto a doddle to drive; however, you might find the ride to be a touch on the firm side – it’s certainly not quite as comfortable as rivals such as the Volkswagen Up and Hyundai i10. That said, it’s tolerable, and the payoff comes when you up the pace, at which point you’ll discover that the Picanto is surprisingly good fun to drive, with direct steering, limited body lean and plenty of grip.
Neither of the two original engine options is going to set bales of hay alight with its performance, but both will provide just about enough performance if you spend most of your time in town. If you want to take your Picanto out onto motorways and A-roads regularly, though, the 1.25 is much better, as the 1.0 can often feel gutless at higher speeds. Best to spend a little more and buy one of the later Picantos with the 1.0 turbocharged unit, as this has noticeably more grunt than the other two options.
The driver’s seat is comfortable and supportive, with enough side support to stop you from sliding around through corners. Thanks to well-positioned pedals and a standard driver’s seat height adjuster on all but the entry-level trim, it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. What’s more, there’s plenty of space in the front and in the boot, although large adults might find knee room a bit of a squeeze in the backseats.
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