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Kia’s nifty city class offering

CHEEKY could be a good word to describe Kia’s entry in the congested small car class. The somewhat jaunty and even slightly flashy Picanto is at heart much more reliable than raffish.

The Picanto meets all the key performance indicators for a small car in what is known as the city class. It is comfortable, easy to drive, fuel-efficient and also a bit of fun.

The expert hand of Peter Schreyer, who has transformed the entire Kia fleet, can be seen again in the Picanto, with its flowing lines, sweeping silhouette and bright colours, covering everything in the spectrum from signal red to clear white.

The Picanto comes in two models, the LX which has the option of an automatic or five-speed manual transmission, and the EX automatic which was the test drive vehicle.

It gets its power from the efficient 1.25 litre Kappa EMI engine, which delivers 64kW at 6000 rpm and a maximum torque of 121Nm at 4000. That is more than enough to propel the Picanto along at a rate of knots — a small engine with a big heart.

Economy is one of the big yardsticks in the small car range and the Picanto comes up to the mark here with figures of just 5.3 to 5.6litres/100kms for the automatics, down to 4.3 for the manual which has ISG, or idle stop and go, which shuts the engine off to save fuel and restarts automatically.

It is also extremely green, putting out just 100 to 130 grams of emission for every kilometre travelled.

The safety package is comprehensive based on VSM (vehicle safety management) which works with the power steering to ensure the car stays stable when simultaneously braking and cornering.

The Picanto EX also has electronic stability control, hill start assist, rear parking assist, seven airbags and a tail light with 24 individual LEDs to alert a following driver.

The interior has been well designed to be able to cater for five adults with extra storage space, thanks to a 60/40 rear seat split.

As well as radio/CD/MP3 with USB/AUX inputs for iPod and hands-free Bluetooth capacity, the Picanto LX auto and EX have a fully-adjustable driver’s seat.

Practical, well equipped, reliable, stylish and comfortable, the Picanto is also priced to allow a lot of people to become new car owners. It is well worth its place in the Kia line-up.