Kia Picanto

The Essentials

  • Price from £7,795
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 67.3mpg
  • What is it? The Kia Picanto is a little car for very little money. Gold stars for the seven-year warranty; onto the naughty step for the way it drives


  • A lot of car for the money and it looks good, too
  • Most versions come with a decent amount of kit
  • Seven-year warranty is a vote of confidence


  • Cheapest model misses out on air-con
  • Rear passengers get the cheap seats. Numb bum alert
  • Not quite so much fun to drive outside the city limits
  • Drive

    Entry-level engine is gutless and it doesn't ride or handle particularly well

  • Inside

    Bagsy sit up front: comfy seats and a smart enough interior. Rear seat passengers really pull the short straw

  • Safety

    Well done Kia - stability control and six airbags are standard plus an immobiliser for security

  • Reliability

    Kia has put its money where its mouth is by offering a seven-year warranty

  • Space

    Enough headroom for four; it's shopping or the pushchair in the boot, however

  • Standard and extras

    Entry-level models miss out on air-con; upgrading to 2 trim adds most things you'd want for a hefty price hike

  • What's it like to drive?

    The Picanto isn't great to drive, but remembering how cheap it is may help you overlook this. It's at its best in town, where the tight tiny turning circle make it easy to park and manoeuvre. Hit the open road and there's nothing smooth about it, from the over-eager brakes and notchy gearbox to the jiggly ride. The steering seems to have only a vague relationship with the wheels, too.
    The 1.0-litre engine makes sense economically  it should return 67mpg and is so clean you don't have to pay road tax. You'll need to keep your foot to the floor to get it going, though, and the resulting racket is very unrelaxing. The bigger 1.25-litre engine is spunkier and in EcoDynamics form (with stop-start technology) offers nearly as impressive running costs.

  • What's it like inside?

    The driver and whoever called shotgun should have no cause for complaint: up front the Kia Picanto is smart and comfortable, and all the important controls are simply laid out. The steering wheel only adjusts for height (not reach) but there's plenty of seat adjustment to compensate.
    Rear-seat passengers should bring their own cushions - the firm bench seat offers very little support. The boot is smaller than that in a Hyundai i10 or VW Up but will hold a few shopping bags or a couple of soft suitcases.
    Equipment levels are extremely Spartan on entry-level models. Want air-con? You'll need to upgrade to 1 Air, which is what we'd recommend doing.

  • How reliable is it?

    Unlikely. The latest Picanto didn't feature in the most recent JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, but the previous model did and was rated 'excellent' for mechanical reliability. If anything does go wrong, there's a seven-year warranty with no mileage limit.
    Six airbags are fitted to all models, along with stability control to stop you skidding and Isofix child seat mounting points. Euro NCAP awarded the Picanto 86% for adult safety and 83% for child protection in its crash test programme. A VW Up scored 89% and 80% respectively.

  • Should I buy one?

    Stick with the 1.0 engine and the Picanto is one of the cheapest city cars on the market, which goes some way to making up for its many flaws. A VW Up won't cost you much more, though, and is a far superior car.