Kia Picanto 2022 Review - Select Car Leasing
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Kia Picanto 2022 Review

Introduction

The Kia Picanto is, quite simply, one of the cheapest cars to either lease or buy outright in the UK. Base models begin at just £12,250 to purchase brand new, or you can lease one for around £200 per month.

With the cost of living crisis going nowhere fast, there will be countless families that absolutely need small hatchbacks like the Picanto to exist.

And just look at the facts.

The Picanto is a good chunk of change cheaper than the £13,430 Hyundai i10, the £14,675 Fiat 500, the £13,940 Volkswagen Up! or the bargain £13,295 MG3.

So here’s the key question: If the Picanto is so wallet-friendly, do you have to make a ton of sacrifices to live with it?

After spending a week with one, we can categorically say that the answer is ‘No’. And the Picanto is a hell of a lot more fun than you might expect.

Select's rating score* - 4.2 / 5

At a Glance

The Picanto enjoyed a major facelift in 2020, which saw it getting a much more distinctive, less ‘vanilla’, appearance than with previous models. The exterior is still understated, on a par with the Hyundai i10, and perhaps lacking the pizazz of the Toyota Aygo X.

But when you step inside the cabin, the interior is unmistakably Kia - which means reassuringly-solid build quality and a heap of creature comforts as standard.


Perhaps the most important trick the lightweight Picanto pulls-off is being able to make you grin. The handling is sharp and precise and yet also pliable over potholes, which makes it a hoot through the twisties.

There’s ample space for rear passengers, both young and old, and while we’re talking about practicality, a generous 255 litre boot trumps most of its rivals.


Key Features

The model we tested was a range-topping ‘GT-Line S’ variant complete with more aggressive exterior styling, including flared air intakes at the front and a sharper nose.

While that iteration tips the scales at £17,050 to purchase outright, it’s positively dripping in kit, right off the bat.


It boasts 16 inch alloys, tinted windows, heated front seats and heated steering wheel, an 8 inch infotainment touchscreen with sat nav, a wireless phone charging pad, reversing camera and a full suite of driver assistance and safety systems. That safety wizardry includes ‘Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist’ tech, hill-start assist and a ‘Torque Vectoring Brake Based & Straight-Line Stability’ system to keep you on the straight and narrow.

It is, then, fantastic value for money.

Standard kit for the entry-level ‘1’ Picanto includes automatic headlights, hill start assist, full Bluetooth connectivity, and a 3.8 inch audio display screen.


Performance & Drive

This is where things get interesting.

As we mentioned above, the model we tested was the all-singing, all-dancing GT-Line S Picanto, which comes mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.

And while all Picantos enjoy a 1.0 litre petrol engine, the unit we experienced was turbocharged, generating power of 99 bhp and 172 Nm of torque. Picantos further down the range make do with power of 66 bhp.

The biggest compliment we can give the GT-Line S Picanto is that it’s easy to forget you’re driving a Kia and not a much more expensive MINI Cooper.


There’s a mad, shouty barble from the exhaust that’s wholly unexpected and while the stats say it’ll accelerate from 0-60 mph in around 9.9 seconds, it somehow feels quicker than that. It’s a car you end up taking the long way home just for the sheer laugh of it all.

It also means the GT-Line S Picanto is a real rival to the VW Up! GTI, which has power of 113 bhp and can reach 60 mph from a standstill in 8.5 seconds.

The 66 bhp Picanto will be less of a thrill, taking 14.1 seconds to hit 60 mph.


Running Costs & Emissions

Whichever Picanto you go for - and that includes the pricier GT-Line S model - it’ll be wholly affordable to live with.

The 66 bhp Picanto enjoy fuel economy close to 59 miles to the gallon while the 99 bhp iteration still returns around 52 mpg.


Emissions are relatively low, too, being around 110 g/km for the less powerful models and 120 g/km for the more potent GT-Line S. To put those figures into perspective, it’s almost identical to the VW Up! and if you’re thinking about a Picanto as a company car, business lease customers will pay from 26% Benefit in Kind (BIK) tax.

Automatic gearboxes are available with ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘X-Line’, ‘X-Line S’ and ‘GT-Line’ models, which increase emissions and reduce MPG ever so slightly.


Interior & Technology

Again, it’s important to state here just how pleasing the interior of the Picanto is when you consider what you’re getting for your money.

The car we tested was a joy to be sat in - soft to the touch, comfortable and with an intuitive and easy to operate infotainment system. You even get the ambient audio sounds - such as crashing waves by the beach or a crackling campfire - that come with much more upmarket cars like Kia’s all-electric EV6.


You’ve got to move up to mid-range ‘Shadow’ models - which begin at £14,500 - before you enjoy an 8 inch touchscreen, while it’s another step up the rung, to ‘3’, before you get cruise control, automatic air con and a reversing camera.

And with Picanto ‘2’ models (above) and beyond, you’ll also get a handy 4.2 inch driver info display nestled between the speedo and rev counter, too.


Practicality & Boot Space

No, the Picanto isn’t a big car. In fact it’s the smallest Kia in the range, sitting behind the Rio and the Ceed hatchbacks.

Yet while the Picanto is clearly pitched as a neat and nimble city car, it’s more spacious than you might think. Legroom in the rear is ample, as is the headroom. The author of this review is, near as dammit, six foot tall. But there was still enough space behind the driver’s seat for things not to feel cramped in the back.


The boot is also a pleasant surprise. Some 255 litres of space is very decent for the class - and don’t just take our word for it, look at the figures.

The Hyundai i10 manages 252 litres, the VW Up! Gets 251 litres and the Fiat 500 has just 185 litres.

As our pics show, you can cram in all the detritus necessary for a day out with the kids - including rucksacks and skateboards - with minimal fuss.


Safety

When you’re in a compact car like the Picanto, you want to feel safe and cosseted.

The Picanto scores three out of five stars with Euro NCAP as standard, but that increases to four stars when the Picanto is equipped with the ‘Advanced Driving Assistance Pack’.

That pack is a £350 optional extra with the entry-level Picanto 1, but it’s fitted as standard with every other Picanto going, and includes tech such as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.

How does that compare with competitors? Well, the VW Up! Fiat 500 and Hyundai i10 also all get a three-star Euro NCAP score as standard, while the Toyota Aygo X scores four stars.


Options

In terms of trim levels, you choice runs from base Picanto ‘1, through to ‘2’, 'Shadow', 3’, 'X-Line', ‘X-Line S’, ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’, with each rung unlocking more and more goodies as well as larger and larger alloy wheels, running up to 16 inch rims.


(Picanto Shadow edition, above)

Whichever one you go for, there’s a choice of five colours. The ‘Honey Bee’ shade won’t set you back any more money but it is as ‘Marmite’ as it gets. The other options - white, black, red and grey - will all cost you a few hundred quid more.

Meanwhile the options list is extensive, running from rubber boot liners and LED footwell lights to cradles for the kids’ iPads in the back.

Rival Cars

As outlined above, the Picanto does battle with a host of other city cars, like the Hyundai i10, VW Up!, Toyota Aygo X and the MG3. You can also add slightly pricier vehicles into the mix, including the Suzuki Swift and the Peugeot 208.

When it comes to a base model face-off, the Picanto, i10, Up! and Aygo X all have similar amounts of power on tap. You can slip a cigarette paper between them in terms of exterior styling, too.


What’s great about the Picanto - and which you don’t enjoy with the Aygo X - is that there’s a more potent version available in the form of the GT-Line S model we enjoyed. Similarly, the Up! gets a GTI version and the Hyundai i10 gets a more powerful ‘N Line’ variant.

You do, however, need to look to alternatives like the Suzuki Swift and the Fiat 500 to find economy-boosting mild hybrid powertrains.


Verdict & Next Steps

Overall, the Picanto proves a couple of important points.

Firstly, just because a car is affordable to lease, it doesn’t mean it needs to be as dull as ditch water. It’s a wholly capable and fun machine when bog standard, and the Picanto really comes alive when it’s fitted with the 99bhp 1.0 T-GDi turbocharged petrol engine.

It also goes to show just how far modern vehicles have progressed in the last 20 years, as we move to a point where even the cheapest vehicles are fully up to the job of ferrying busy families everywhere they need to be.

The Picanto we tested was perfectly adept on long motorway trips.

So, if keeping an eye on your household budget is the number one priority right now, the Picanto has simply got to be on your list of options.

Where to next?

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Kia Picanto

**Correct as of 01/09/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £1,802.16 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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