Review: Kia Picanto (2017)


Surprisingly spacious cabin. Very good fun to drive. Affordable pricing.

Seats don't fold flat. Boot is small. Tyre repair kit instead of a spare wheel.

Kia Picanto (2017): At A Glance

The Kia Picanto is affordably-priced, well-equipped, surprisingly practical and great fun to drive, making it a better buy than its rivals from Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota and a strong alternative to the Volkswagen Up and its counterparts from SEAT and Skoda.

It’s not exactly a quick car, but whether equipped with the 1.0-litre or 1.25-litre petrol options, the Picanto is great fun. The base engines are not turbocharged, but they are revvy while the slick gearchange and light, nimble handling make it easy to drive in town and give it loads of personality on a B-road, where it provides surprising grip. 

It will cruise at motorway speeds too, though if you want to pass any slow-coaches you’ll need to plan ahead. Wind and road noise are noticeable too, but no more so than in rival small cars while official economy is more than 60mpg for most models, so fuel bills shouldn’t be too steep.

Inside, the material quality is strong and sturdy if not especially plush – but it’s easy to get comfortable and there’s a surprising level of space. The back row will seat adults in a decent level of comfort, with reasonable leg and headroom – though this is at the expense of boot space.

The load area is only really suitable for a small shopping trip. It’s not particularly generous at 255 litres – but it also has a high load lip so getting anything other than a shopping bag in and out is a bit of a fiddle. Folding the rear seats down frees up plenty of space, but they don’t form a flat load deck.

If you want a small, fun, affordable car the Picanto is probably the next best thing after a Volkswagen Up. But, if that having that German badge on the front of your car doesn’t bother you, then you’ll find the Picanto is fun to drive, affordably priced, cheap to run and does everything you’d hope a small car should do.

Kia Picanto 2017 Road Test

What does a Kia Picanto (2017) cost?

List Price from £10,215
Buy new from £9,369
Contract hire from £123.71 per month

Kia Picanto (2017): What's It Like Inside?

Length 3595–3670 mm
Width 1595–1625 mm
Height 1485–1500 mm
Wheelbase 2400 mm

Full specifications

While the Kia Picanto is a small car, it has a surprisingly spacious cabin. It’s available as a five-door only and the back row provides plenty of space. Tall adults will struggle to get comfortable, but most rear-seat passengers will find there is enough leg and headroom, which is impressive for a car in this class.

That passenger space does come at the expense of boot capacity though. The load volume is 255 litres, but that space is mostly below a tall load lip. That’s not a problem if all you’re doing is carrying shopping bags, but for suitcases or heavy, bulky items, the Picanto isn’t great, since getting stuff out, over the load lip, can be tricky. There is a dual height floor option, but it reduces load space noticeably.  

The load capacity can be expanded by folding the seats, which makes it possible to fit bigger items – but the seat backs don’t fold completely flat. Still, for the occasional flat pack it does the job, on the proviso you don’t buy a giant wardrobe or a king-sized bed...

Material quality is good on the whole. There are no soft touch plastics, but that’s the norm for cars at this sort of price and the plastics that are used feel hardwearing. The upholstery is well-finished though, and the switches and buttons all work with reassuring solidity.

Equipment includes, as standard, electric windows, remote central locking, aux and USB inputs for the radio and auto headlights. Move up to the ‘2’ model to get alloy wheels air conditioning, electrical and heated door mirrors, a four-speaker audio system and Bluetooth with audio streaming.

Standard Equipment (from launch):

1 comes with electric front windows, remote locking, tinted windows, two-speaker radio with aux and USB input, tilt-adjustable steering, auto headlights.

2 adds air conditioning, electric rear windows, electric heated door mirrors, Bluetooth with audio streaming, four speaker audio, 14-inch alloy wheels and body-coloured exterior trim elements.

3 adds auto emergency braking, 15-inch andalloy wheels, supervision instrument cluster, front fog lights, sliding centre arm rest, automatic air conditioning, cruise control, speed limiter, 7-inch touchscreen with navigation and DAB radio, six-speaker audio and a reversing camera.

GT-Line is similar to ‘2’, but with sportier styling details including 16-inch alloy wheels and a dual-exit exhaust, plus sportier bumpers and artificial leather upholstery. It also gains auto emergency braking.

GT-Line S adds, over GT-Line, a wireless phone charging pad, a sunroof, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless start, a seven-inch touchscreen, navigation, DAB radio, reversing camera and a dual-height boot floor. 

Child seats that fit a Kia Picanto (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.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Kia Picanto (2017) like to drive?

Since it weighs so little, the Kia Picanto has really fun handling. The steering, while light, is quick to react to your inputs and there’s a surprising level of grip – so while it isn’t particularly speedy it’s really enjoyable on a B-road. That said, town is obviously where the Picanto is at its best.

It’s small, so parking it is really easy even in tight spaces, plus it has light controls that make the drudgery of stop-start traffic a little bit less frustrating. All of the engines are perky from a standing start too, so while they won’t set any 0-62mph records, they’ll get you away from traffic lights swiftly enough.

The entry-level engine is a 1.0-litre with 67PS and it’s sprightly if you only go out of town occasionally, but for longer journeys the 1.25-litre engine with 84PS is a better bet, with just enough extra go to make motorway cruising more relaxed. Realistically both engines provide similar economy too, with official figures above 60mpg.

If you prefer an automatic transmission then you’re restricted to the 1.25-litre engine. It’s a torque convertor, so provides very smooth gear changes, but fuel economy takes a hit – the official figures is 52.3mpg. In real world driving, expect mpg figures in the 40s.

Ride quality is very good for a small car – so while it might make a bit of noise when passing over potholes and speed bumps, those thumps aren’t transmitted into your seat or your back. Despite that, there’s never an alarming amount of body roll even when cornering hard.

Kia fits autonomous emergency braking as standard in ‘3’ and ‘GT-Line’ models, or as an option in ‘1’ and ‘2’ versions. The system detects imminent collisions with vehicles or pedestrians ahead of the car and will automatically brake if the driver fails to react, reducing the severity of the collision or, sometimes, preventing it entirely. 

26-8-2018: Happily the KIA Picanto X-Line has lost little of its sparkle, despite sitting on raised suspension. It's not quite as 'laugh your head off' fun as the standard car, but, unlike most small cars on high heels, it's still very good to drive and goes as well as can be expected for a mere 83HP at 6,000rpm. Gearing helps, with 70mph coming up at 3,000rpm, so around 23mph per 1,000. If you live up a rocky track or have a nasty hump in your driveway, this is the Picanto for you.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0 57–64 mpg - 101–115 g/km
1.0 T-GDi 55 mpg - 117 g/km
1.25 45–54 mpg - 106–137 g/km
1.25 Automatic 48 mpg - 124 g/km
1.25 Automatic X-Line 47 mpg - 124 g/km
1.25 X-Line 54 mpg - 106 g/km

Real MPG average for a Kia Picanto (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.

Average performance


Real MPG

25–56 mpg

MPGs submitted


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.

What have we been asked about the Kia Picanto (2017)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Which small car should I buy for £7000?

I am looking to replace my 2007 Volkswagen Polo with a three year old much more economical small car. It must have air conditioning, five doors and take adults in back. I'm looking at the Toyota Aygo and Volkswagen Up. I travel 10,000 miles a year, mostly on country roads but I need reliability on motorway. My budget is under £7000. What would you recommend as best long term buy as we plan to run the car into the ground?
We'd recommend a Kia Picanto. It's a great little car with a long warranty. This should give you an idea of real-world fuel economy:
Answered by Andrew Brady
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