Review: Kia Picanto (2011 – 2017)
Excellent small car for the money. High quality and neatly designed interior. Great to drive and cheap to run.
Noisy on the motorway. Three-door 'Halo' automatic is pricey.
Kia Picanto (2011 – 2017): At A Glance
The Picanto may be Kia's smallest car but it's probably its most important model. The compact five-door hatchback has been the brand's best selling car for the last seven years and is one of the best small motors around offering great value for money. The second generation Picanto grows up with a sleeker style, more space and a higher quality interior.
It's a big step forward from the original Picanto and feels as good as many larger hatchbacks, particularly from behind the wheel where it's more comfortable and refined than before. It's a great looking car too with a sharp front end and a sporty profile, yet there's been no sacrifice in terms of interior space with particularly impressive headroom for rear seat passengers.
It's fun to drive with good handling in corners, a forgiving ride and responsive steering, yet still a doddle to park and slot into tiny spaces. There are just two petrol engines in the line-up - a 1.0-litre with 68bhp and a 1.25 with 84bhp - and both are very economical yet still deliver decent performance with a perky nature. The 1.0-litre is the one to go for if you're watching the pennies - it's free to tax thanks to a CO2 output of 99g/km plus it is capable of a claimed 67.3mpg.
As is standard across all the Kia range, the Picanto comes with the unique seven-year warranty as standard - something which no other brand can match. Combined with a starting price of around £8000 this makes the new Picanto amazingly good value for money, but there's more to the Picanto than merely a low list price.
It's simply one of the best small cars around - regardless of the price tag. Alongside the five-door model, a sportier three-door version was introduced in September 2011.
What does a Kia Picanto (2011 – 2017) cost?
Kia Picanto (2011 – 2017): What's It Like Inside?
The improvements in the Picanto are most evident from behind the wheel. It's far better than before with a higher quality feel to all the materials used and a more stylish layout. The bottom part of the steering wheel echoes the design seen on the grille while the simple analogue dials are easy to read and fuss free.
Both the straightforward to use stereo and air ventilation controls are placed nice and high on the central console while there's plenty of room for two adults in the front, so you won't keep smacking elbows with your passenger every time you change gear.
The seats are comfortable, albeit not especially supportive at the sides, and there’s enough head and legroom for four (plus seatbelts for five) at a pinch. Interior space has been improved thanks to a longer wheelbase which means better front legroom and a larger boot too while getting into the back is easy thanks to wide opening doors.
At 200 litres the load space isn't huge but then this is a small car and unlike bigger cars such as the Fiesta and Mazda 2 the 60/40 split rear seats double fold, leaving a flat floor and 605 litres of loadspace to window height.
There's no spare wheel though, just a puncture repair kit. Storage in the rest of the cabin is reasonable with a decent glovebox and a large space in front of the gearlever, although the narrow door pockets can be a pain if you drop anything like a pen in them.
Standard equipment from launch (June 2011):
Picanto 1 comes with height-adustable seat, tilt-adjustable steering column, an RDS stereo with a CD player, front electric windows, body coloured bumpers plus mirrors and door handles along with tinted glass.
Picanto 2 models have Bluetooth, manual air conditioning, electric windows front and back, a USB port and an auxiliary port, iPod cable plus steering wheel mounted controls, electricaly adjustable heated and folding door mirrors with integrated LED side repeaters, 14-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, a leather steering wheel and gear lever, an alarm system, plus a premium black upholstery and chrome exterior.
Picanto 3 models have automatic air conditioning, automatic headlights with LED projector headlamps, daytime running lights, LED rear light clusters, a six-speaker stereo, body-coloured side skirts, heated front seats and 15-inch alloys.
Child seats that fit a Kia Picanto (2011 – 2017)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Kia Picanto (2011 – 2017) like to drive?
The engine line-up in the Picanto range is very straightforward as there are just two available - both petrols. The entry-level version is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit with 68bhp on tap and 95Nm of torque. It has plenty of character and pulls well in gear too for such a small engine, although it does struggle with a full complement of adults on board.
According to the official figures it will do 0-60mph in 13.9 seconds but it's not an engine you choose for performance. Economy is its real strength and along with CO2 emissions of just 99g/km it is capable of a claimed 67.3mpg.
Your other choice is a four-cylinder 1.25-litre with 84bhp and 120Nm of torque. It's a great little unit with plenty of zest about it and is surprisingly nippy, certainly feeling more rapid than the official 0-60mph time of 11.0 seconds suggest. It pulls well and will happily rev all the way to its maximum without becoming coarse or too noisy. The standard five-speed manual gearbox has a nicely weighted shift that's positive and - dare we say it - a little bit sporty too.
This 1.25 engine emits 109g/km and averages 60.1mpg plus there's the EcoDynamics version fitted with ISG (which stands for Intelligent Stop & Go) and thanks to the fuel saving system it emits 100g/km of CO2 and averages a claimed 65.7mpg. The engine stop and start system works very well, restarting quickly and smoothly. Usefully there is also an automatic model available that uses a four-speed gearbox although acceleration is duly blunted with a 0-60mph time of 12.9 seconds.
The Picanto does does genuinely have the feel of a bigger car and the ride quality as good as a Fiesta, ironing out rough roads well for such a small car. The rear axle is stiffer than in the previous Picanto and this definitely helps with agility along with high speed stability. On the motorway the Picanto feels like a bigger car than it is, and although a touch noisy, refinement levels are very good indeed.
In town it's ideal thanks to good all round visibility, light steering at low speeds and a tight turning circle (9.8 metres if you're measuring). It's a smidge longer than the old Picanto (by 60mm) but just as easy to slot into a parallel parking space. It's a very safe car too and all models come with ESC stability control as standard - an impressive feature ona car this size and price.
Of course all models have ABS and emergency brake assist plus front, side and curtain airbags while the B-pillars and side sills are reinforced with high-tensile steel plates to aid side impact protection, should the worst happen.
|1.0||63–67 mpg||13.9–14.1 s||99–102 g/km|
|1.0 3dr||67 mpg||13.9 s||99 g/km|
|1.0 Air||67 mpg||13.9 s||99 g/km|
|1.0 Air 3dr||67 mpg||13.9 s||99 g/km|
|1.1||63 mpg||14.1 s||99 g/km|
|1.25||60–63 mpg||11.0–11.5 s||100–109 g/km|
|1.25 3dr||60–63 mpg||11.0 s||106–109 g/km|
|1.25 Automatic||50–53 mpg||12.9–13.2 s||125–130 g/km|
|1.25 Automatic 3dr||50–53 mpg||12.9 s||125–130 g/km|
|1.25 EcoDynamics||66 mpg||11.0 s||100 g/km|
|1.25 EcoDynamics 3dr||66 mpg||-||100 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Kia Picanto (2011 – 2017)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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