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Kia Picanto 1.25 five-door (2011) CAR review
  • Statistics
On sale in the UK: May
Engine: 1248cc 16v 4-cylinder, 84bhp @ 6000rpm, 89lb ft @ 4000rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 11.4sec 0-62mph, 107mph, 60.9mpg, 105g/km
How heavy / made of? 855kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 3595/1595/1480
CAR’s rating

Rated 4 out of 5


Rated 4 out of 5


Rated 4 out of 5


Rated 4 out of 5

Feelgood factor

Rated 4 out of 5

Readers’ rating

Rated 3 out of 5

Kia Picanto 1.25 5dr (2011) CAR review

By Ben Barry

First Drives

08 April 2011 00:01

This is the new Kia Picanto, the Korean brand’s A-segment supermini. Back for its second generation, the new Picanto wears the current Kia styling courtesy of Peter Schreyer’s design team. The Kia Picanto is available in three- and five-door body styles, and comes with a choice of three petrol engines: a pair of three-cylinder engines, one of which can run on LPG or petrol, and the 1.25-litre four cylinder. We’re driving the four-pot and the non-LPG triple.

How does the new Kia Picanto drive?

The Picanto drives very well, especially in four-cylinder trim. The engine zings eagerly, the gear change and steering are both light and easy, and engaging too, and the ride felt pretty good on our car’s 14-inch steel rims – a gentle loping rhythm with only a few secondary imperfections spoiling the show. It’s even refined at motorway speeds, and little bursts of acceleration are always on tap. It just feels right and instinctively in tune with itself.

And how about the three-cylinder Kia Picanto?

It’s fine, but stretch to the four-cylinder if you can. The three is noisier and less refined than the four – as you’d expect – and it’s a lot slower too: the gaps between gear ratios feel like gaping chasms as the car falls out of its powerband after every gear change. It’s unwilling where the four-cylinder feels ever eager.

The steering also had some unwanted stickiness and – because our three-cylinder had a tasty spec that ran to 15-inch alloys – its ride quality suffered too, something that would no doubt afflict the four-cylinder car on bigger rims.

What’s the new Kia Picanto like inside?

It’s simple and elegant in an unpretentious way, with plastics that look and feel good, even if they do sound cheap when you tap them. The seats are comfortable and offer decent lateral support, while headroom’s available in abundance too.

All-round visibility is also good, and getting in and out is easy – not that the Picanto will be bought by old people. No, it’s all 20 to 30-something urban hipsters these days. That’s just as well, because those hipsters’ friends will have to be pretty flexible: legroom is very tight in the back, even though headroom is still generous. The boot is also very small. Still, this is the A-segment, so we mustn’t grumble too much.


The Picanto is a very accomplished car, one that looks good and is fun to drive whether you’re in town or out on the open road. But it does itself most justice in four-cylinder trim, and we’d far sooner take the 1.25-litre car with a very basic specification than a three-cylinder model with a few toys.  On the strength of our first drive, we look forward to seeing how the Picanto compares to its city car rivals once it arrives in the UK.