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Small package but big on necessary city car extras

KIA has developed something of a perfect city runabout with its Picanto, a small car that is stylish, comfortable and — best of all — affordable.

The tech team at the Korean car maker, one of the fastest-growing in the world, have packed the little Picanto with all the basics and some attractive extras.

The 1.25 litre engine is more than up to the task of whisking the Picanto round and about with its maximum power of 64kW at 6000 rpm and 123Nm of torque at 4000, Helped by an idle stop and go system that shuts itself off to save fuel and automatically restarts when the driver moves off, it can claim fuel consumption figures of a paltry 5.6 litres/100kms combined.

It comes with a choice of three models an LX manual transmission, LX automatic and the top of the range EX that includes extras like electric folding mirrors and 15 inch alloys (the other models have 14 inch wheels.)

An ANCAP five-star safety package includes seven airbags, including two curtain bags running the length of the cabin and one for the driver’s knee. Vehicle safety management and electronic stability control systems, and hill-start assist control, are welcome inclusions and the Picanto also has a very useful rear parking assist system that gives an audible warning if you get too close to an object while backing in.

Kia’s designers pride themselves on providing a comfortable cabin and to meet this target they have packed the Picanto with all the goodies like hands-free Bluetooth, a radio, CD and MP3 player, iPod and USB connectivity. The height-adjustable driver’s seat gives contoured support to the driver and ensures they are in the best and most comfortable position.

Clever use of interior space includes a large open centre console, rotating dual cup holders, a door pocket just for maps, and a 9.6 litre glovebox. The 60/40 rear seat split makes the Picanto the ultimate shopping basket. The exterior features gullwing folding outside mirrors, a rear spoiler with stop lamp and LED tail lights.

The most striking thing about the exterior is the bright colour options. The nine varieties such as midnight black, signal red and dazzling blue not only make the Picanto easy on the eye but add to its safety rating by making the small car easy for other motorists to see.

The Picanto can zip through urban traffic effortlessly. Its light steering contributes to its high manoeuvrability and makes things like parking or a U-turn no challenge.

It may be small but the Picanto is big in a lot of other ways where it really matters.



Photos by Andy Searle