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The exterior of a silver Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto review

Fun, easy to drive and spacious, the Kia Picanto is a practical and versatile city car with an efficient engine.


  • It has a fun design
  • Great to drive
  • Likely to have lots of life left in the seven-year warranty


  • Pre-2017 cars have less equipment
  • Limited engine options
  • It's not the most efficient in its class


“The Kia Picanto is an efficient car that's both reliable and cost-effective.”

The Kia Picanto is a five-door hatchback that offers lots of space for you and your passengers, even the boot is pretty big for a car of this size. It has efficient engines which are also fun and easy to drive, while running costs like tax and insurance are low. It's also super reliable.

There are three petrol engines to choose from and Kia has a straightforward way of describing its trim levels. The trims start at the Picanto 1 entry model and rise to 2 and 3 which include extra equipment. Look out for special editions, including a sporty GT-Line, an off-road inspired X-Line, the Wave and Titanium. With many added extras, these could well be the best bargains.
The current Picanto model line-up arrived in 2017, but if you’re looking at older cars the previous generation Mk2 Picanto offers many of the same advantages. It’s a good value, spacious and practical city car that’s easy and fun to drive around town. It also comes with the choice of three or five doors, while later cars are five-door only.

What’s the interior like?

“Roomy and well put together, it has a stylish and quality feel.”

The latest Picanto’s interior has a sporty feel and a welcoming ambiance thanks to great design and quality materials.

There’s a tablet-style console rising up from the dash which gives you better access to the controls. The seven-inch touchscreen option makes things even easier and it also comes with Android Auto and CarPlay which is one of the best setups around.

The driving seat is comfortable, with plenty of adjustment so you’ll have no problem seeing out from quite a high driving position. Back seat passengers will have plenty of space and a good amount of legroom.

The boot isn't the largest, but it beats most rivals at 255 litres, which is big enough for a number of bags. You can increase capacity further by folding the back seats down.

What’s it like to drive?

“All Picantos are nice and easy to drive.”

If you like light controls and easy driving, the Picanto is the car for you. The pedals are ideal for clutch-pumping city driving and the steering is direct and assured. The suspension has been tweaked to improve the car’s ride and comfort.

There's a straightforward line-up of engines with three and four-cylinder petrol units, each one of them providing a great drive. The lower-powered versions are fine for most people and the most powerful 100 hp (horsepower) version is fitted only to the GT-Line.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“There are some great used bargains to be had.”

The Picanto has slightly higher depreciation than some rivals which is great news if you’re searching for a used one because it'll be great value.
It’s hard to fault the Picanto when it comes to running costs. As you would expect of a city car, its engines are frugal, with all three petrol options approaching 50 mpg economy according to official figures. There’s an automatic version, which still manages to return around 43 mpg.
Insurance costs will be low with group ratings ranging from four to 10, while Kia dealers will offer you a selection of servicing deals to help maintain your car.

How reliable and safe is it?

“Kia has worked hard to build a reputation for reliability.”

The Kia brand has done very well in recent reliability surveys, which perhaps explains how the company can afford to protect its cars with an industry-leading seven-year warranty. Maintenance and repair costs are likely to be low.

Higher-spec cars have autonomous emergency braking fitted, which is a system that works to slow the car down to avoid an accident. These versions earn four stars out of five from the Euro NCAP crash test.

Which one is best for you?

Best for economy - 1.0 ‘1’

Best for family - 1.25 ‘2’

Best for fun - GT-Line 1.0 T-GDi   

There are bargains to be had when buying a used Kia Picanto so it’s worth looking at all specification models. In most cases, you won’t have to pay much more for a touchscreen-equipped 3 model than you might for a more basic car and the advantages are worth having.

Look at one of the more powerful engines if you’re likely to be doing any long-distance driving. It's worth looking out for special editions with extra equipment, such as a touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a rear parking camera.

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