A few weeks ago I tested the Suzuki Celerio, and whilst it was decent, it wasn’t exactly…adventurous in the style department. This however, might just tick that box – say hello to the Kia Picanto GT-Line. It may look racy, but is it all show and no go?
Design and Styling
The standard Picanto is a pretty handsome thing, but in GT-Line form it offers a more pumped up, aggressive look. Yes, the Picanto may look small in stature, but with a swollen body and a mock rear diffuser, it’s clear that the GT-Line isn’t here to muck about. This model also features bigger rims – 16” to be precise – and at the rear you get a double exhaust pipe.
Inside you’ll find faux leather seats with splashes of red on them as well as a healthy smattering of red stitching and sports pedals. The dash layout is quite straight forward and minimal, which should offer good ease of use, but you’ll need to upgrade to the GT Line S , X-Line or 3 models to get a touchscreen. Yes, there are plenty of hard black plastics, but that’s to be expected from a car of this price, but it feels well put together.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
The Kia Picanto is available in a total of six trim levels; 1, 2, 3, GT-Line, GT-Line S and the new, SUV-inspired X-Line. The base model ‘1’, priced from £9,495 offers the basics such as front electric windows, radio, remote central locking, hill-start and 6 airbags.
At the other end of the spectrum you have the GT Line S, which is priced from £13,995 and offers climate control, autonomous emergency braking, 7” touchscreen with navigation, electric sunroof, rear parking sensors, wireless phone charger as well as heated front seats and steering wheel.
What does the lesser GT Line model offer though? Priced from £11,950, it offers 16” alloys, sporty styling, LED rear lights, privacy glass, air conditioning, Bluetooth, plus front and rear electric windows.
The 2 model is priced from £10,850 and is able to offer air conditioning, electric rear windows, heated door mirrors, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel and gear leaver as well as 14″ alloys. The 3 model is priced from £12,750 and is able to add autonomous emergency braking, 15″ alloys, front foglights, climate control, cruise control and 7″ touchscreen with navigation and smartphone connectivity to name a few.
That leaves the SUV-inspired X-Line, which is new to the Picanto lineup and is priced from £12,595. This adds SUV styling, a raised ride height, 16″ alloys, 7″ touchscreen with navigation and smartphone connectivity, plus there is autonomous emergency braking, faux leather seats, keyless entry and cruise control.
Rating: (4 / 5)
Space and Comfort
It’s a city car, therefore you will not be blessed with space of course, but in the front there is definitely enough room to get comfortable, although getting a good driving position was a bit tricky for me. Predictably for a car of this price, the steering wheel only adjusts for rake, which is fine as I expected this, however, the seat has no height adjustment. Nevertheless, I was able to get a decent enough driving position after a bit of fiddling, but what about cubbyholes?
Well there are two cupholders in the middle, as well as a slot to put a smartphone or a small item, plus you have a storage compartment in the arm rest, a decent sized glovebox, and doorbins that are thankfully bigger than what the Suzuki Celerio is able to offer.
Step in to the back, and predictably you’ll find limited space if you’re a taller person. I’m 6’2” and as always, the driver’s seat has been altered for my height. This means that the legroom is a bit of a squeeze and the headroom is also on the tight side, and is less than what the Celerio and Ford Ka+ is able to offer.
Space will be absolutely fine for children and smaller adults though, but I think you would really struggle to fit three in the back, especially when the Picanto is around 2cm slimmer than the Celerio, and even in that car, it would seem virtually impossible to seat three normal sized people in the back.
Open up the boot and you’ll find a generous amount of room for a car in this class as it offers an impressive 255 litres, making it the biggest in class. This should be enough for what your daily life happens to throw at you, but you can of course fold down the 60/40 seats if needed, and this will give you 1,010 litres.
Rating: (4 / 5)
What’s it like to drive?
When you look at the outside, you’d be forgiven for thinking that underneath the bonnet lurks an engine with a bit of punch. However, I’m afraid you’re wrong, because the power comes from a naturally aspirated 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol engine that offers…66bhp. Hmm. So if you’re thinking that this car is going to rival the new VW Up! GTI or the Renault Twingo GT, then I’m afraid you’re mistaken.
Ok, so you can also have the 1.25 litre four-cylinder petrol instead, but that is also naturally aspirated and offers just 83bhp. Thankfully, Kia will offer a turbocharged 1.0 litre petrol later this year, and that will offer an improved 99bhp. That’s still not as much as the Up! GTI and the Twingo GT, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Getting back on to the topic of this engine though, as well as it’s measly 66bhp, it also offers 96Nm in torque (71 in lb ft) and this power is fed to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox. An 4-speed auto is also available, but you would need to get the 1.25 engine in a different trim level to get this.
As you would expect, it’s not the fastest car to 60mph as the official time given by Kia is erm, well, 13.8 seconds. Hardly what you’d call sporty, eh? On the plus side, the top speed is three figures, but only just, with a max of 100mph.
So then, it looks as if the GT Line is all show and no-go? Not quite. A car doesn’t have to be powerful to be fun.
Because you don’t have bundles of power, you can use of all it all the time and you can really throw this little scamp in to corners. The steering offers a nice weight and its responsive, making it rather pleasurable to thread through bends. The short wheelbase and the low kerb weight also means it’s as nimble as a housefly. The three-cylinder engine may lack guts, but it has a distinctive growl, which helps to give the car some character.
I’ll be honest, I did feel a bit underwhelmed after the first time I drove this car, but the more I’ve driven the car, the more I’ve liked it. The 5-speed manual provides a nice change, although the clutch pedal is springy, which took a bit of time to get used to. The suspension is firm as well, so you’ll find the ride busy on poor surfaces and the car can skip over imperfections in the road too, but it’s nothing that will cause a major complaint.
The bigger alloys mean that there is some audible tyre noise, but you shouldn’t notice it too much once you crank the stereo up a few notches. Other than the tyre noise and the firm ride, the Picanto is pretty refined for a car in this class, and it definitely feels more upmarket than some of its rivals.
Rating: (4 / 5)
The engine may not offer much power, but on the plus side it means that it won’t cost you an arm and leg to run. This 1.0 litre engine is able to offer 64.2mpg on a combined run, which is not quite as much as some of its rivals, but it’s not far behind. However, in my experience I’ve been getting mid-40s, which is not bad, but not quite as much as I’ve been able to coax out of other cars in its class.
In regard to CO2 emissions, this engine emits 101g/km, meaning for the first year you’ll pay £140 for VED and then you’ll pay £140 for each year thereafter. The 1.25 litre is able to offer 61.4mpg, with 106g/km of CO2 emissions. This means you’ll pay the same amount in VED as you would for the 1.0 litre unit.
Economy drops if you choose to have the auto gearbox though, on a combined run it’ll offer 52.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 124g/km. This means you’ll pay £160 for the first year of VED, and then £140 for each year afterwards.
Rating: (3.5 / 5)
I like what Kia has tried to do with the GT Line, it’s fun to drive, and it looks great, although I can’t really recommend it with this engine. Personally I think you should wait until the turbocharged engine comes, or, if you’re not bothered about the sporty styling, then why not pay a little to get the ‘3’ model, which offers much more kit? Either way, the Picanto is an accomplished city car, which offers good value, a big boot for its size and looks great. so I think Kia is on to a winner here.
However, the GT Line with this engine certainly does feel a bit as if it’s all show and no go – bring on the turbo!
Car Obsession Rating (4 / 5) (It would have been a higher mark if there was more power)
- Great looks
- Biggest boot in class
- Fun handling
- Decent areas for storage
- Sharp brakes
- Pleasant gearbox
- Well-weighted, responsive steering
- 7 year warranty
- GT-Line is underpowered with this engine
- Not quite as frugal as rivals
- 3 trim level offers better value
- Firm ride
- Rear headroom not as good as rivals
The up! may have a silly name in my opinion, but it has been a popular seller in the city car market. The GTI variant offers more performance of course, and is inspired by the very first Golf GTI, offering similar power and performance figures. It’s a smart looking car both inside and out, but a five door version will cost from £14,150.
The Twingo GT not only has an engine in the back, but it also feeds the power to the rear as well. This means you get rear wheel drive fun, plus it will be easier to manoeuvre in tight spots. Like the up! GTI, it’ll cost you more than £14,000 though.
What if you don’t want anything sporty and you just want a simple, no frills runaround? The Celerio may not be much to look, but you simply cannot argue with the value it offers, plus it offers more headroom in the rear and the boot is only 1 litre smaller. Glamorous, it is not, but it’s a fantastic utilitarian way to get about.