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kia picanto review pic
Kia Picanto
Fantastic Little Car From Korea
kia picanto review pic
kia picanto review pic
kia picanto review pic
kia picanto review pic

Will Buyers Have The Faith To Look Beyond Weak Brand Image?
If This Was A Toyota, There’d Be Queues Around The Block

Manchester - The Kia Picanto is a very pretty, stylish and well priced little car with a terrific interior. It is loaded with goodies, and seems to have been put together with some care.

Unfortunately, its qualities are probably going to remain unnoticed by the great car-buying public because of the weak image of Kia, which is a subsidiary of the huge Korean car maker Hyundai. But given that other Asian and Japanese car manufacturers are making great headway at the moment, maybe justice will be done and the Kia Picanto will be a great success.

The other contenders in this sector, which include the European Car of the Year the Fiat Panda, the Ford Ka, Nissan Micra and Vauxhall Corsa, have a formidable new competitor in the Picanto.

We all know that first impressions are very important, and as soon as I first set eyes on the Picanto, at the Frankfurt Car Show last September, I was impressed. Its looks were captivating and judging from the admirers around the stand, this was very much a majority reaction.

I recently drove the Picanto on the roads in and around Manchester, and I was delighted again. Some Korean cars, even though they are well designed and often provide terrific packages, lack a quality feel.

Top Stuff
Not so with the Picanto. As soon as you grab the door handle, it says top stuff. The interior is, well, beautiful, with high quality materials, a nicely designed dash and tactile switches and buttons. You could sit back and think you were in a car costing twice as much as this – the 1.1 litre Picanto SE that I drove costs £6,995 (10,500 euros). The entry level model – the 1.0 litre GS starts at £5,495 (8,250 euros).

The SE model includes air conditioning, remote central locking, electric windows, front fog lights, and leather steering wheel. Even the base GS model provides power steering, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, CD player with MP3 player, central locking, tilt and adjustable steering wheel and tinted glass.

Trump Card
Kia reckons that the GS, at £5,495, is not only much cheaper than rivals like the Ford Ka (£6,775), Daewoo Matiz (£5,995), the Suzuki Alto (£5,995), the Fiat Panda Active 1.1 (£6,295) and Daihatsu Charade (£6,295), but has goodies including the CD audio player, ABS, central locking, body coloured bumpers and front electric windows which are worth about £2,000, and which are mostly absent from these rivals. And the Picanto still hasn’t played its trump card – a 3 year unlimited mileage warranty with 3 years European roadside assistance.

The driving experience with the 1.1 SE was quite acceptable. The steering and handling are fine, the ride quality was good, the 5-speed gear box did the job well, and the performance was adequate. Let’s face it, anyone buying this car will be seeking a more of city runabout than anything else. But on the highway at cruising speed the Picanto was quiet and stable.

The rear seats fold down neatly to give loads of room for lugging stuff around. There is plenty of head room in the back.

Group Test Winner
Kia proudly tells us that the Picanto convincingly won a “group” test in the German car magazine Auto Bild, with testers praising the engine, suspension, seating and overall quality of the car as well as an excellent emergency braking performance that was almost as good as a “Golf Sized” car. It didn’t say that that the “group” test was only against two other cars. But one of those was the Fiat Panda, which I have driven and which is certainly a great little machine. The other contender was the Daihatsu Cuore.

Next year a 1.1 litre diesel engine will be available. The Picanto only comes with 5-doors. The 1.1 litre engine has an optional 4-speed automatic gear box.

Neil Winton – June 1, 2004

Kia Picanto 1.1 SE
1.1 litre petrol
64 bhp
5-speed manual
front wheels
0-62 mph-100 km/h – 15.1 seconds
Top Speed:
96 mph-154 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined – 57.6 mpg-4.9 l/100 km
119 g/km
3,495 mm
Weight: 1,350 kg
Suspension front:
MacPherson strut
Suspension rear:
couple torsion beam axle
Insurance Group:
£6,995 (10,500 euros)
Fiat Panda, Ford Ka, Daewoo Matiz, Suzuki Alto, Daihatsu Charade/Cuore, Rover CityRover, VW Lupo, Vauxhall/Opel Agila, Citroen Saxo, Peugeot 106, Seat Arosa, Smart Pure
Would I buy one?
**** out of 5
cute, well made, great value
Will buyers go for a Kia?

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