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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
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 4 out of 54

Readers' rating

Rated 2.5 out of 52.5

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.


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Average rating: Rated 2.5 out of 52.5 (113 votes)

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Kia Picanto 1.25 5dr (2011) CAR review


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RE: Kia Picanto 1.25 5dr (2011) CAR review

Looks like a great runabout, and better built that my daughter's (03) Panda, which I have big bills to show for running it. What I should have done was picked the Yaris (my wife had one for 5 years & never a problem), but I let my heart override my brain. Reminds me of my experience of the two Alfettas I had in the 70s, great cars, dreadful build. Just needs a decent i.e. modern auto as it has only has 4 gears as the competition has 5 plus. I’m looking at the Toyota Aygo and its two French badge stable mates. I just feel our friends from the East are just upping their game all the time, and that’s before the Tsunami of Chinese manufacturers arrive on these shores!

14 August 2011 15:56


Sam the Eagle

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Sam the Eagle says

RE: Kia Picanto 1.25 5dr (2011) CAR review

This review shows how far Peugeot and Renault have strayed from their roots. This is the kind of light and nimble and unfussy vehicle PSA and Renault used to do.


Peugeot still makes the 107. Doesn't Gavin Green own one, and rave about it (for the reasons you outline)?



08 April 2011 16:55



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rojay says

RE: Kia Picanto 1.25 5dr (2011) CAR review

Sounds a great little rival that does everything the Hyundai i10 does (as presume their pretty much the same underneath), whilst addressing the i10s major flaw - the styling.

I still wouldn't buy one, but for the A-to-B'ers out there that just want something reliable and a bit funky this seems perfect. Hope that Kia keep the pricing low (which no doubt they will). My sister was begrudingly considering an i10, but now I'll suggest she waits til May...

08 April 2011 16:39



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MG5Sport says

RE: Kia Picanto 1.25 5dr (2011) CAR review

Not bad looking car, Kia is now on a roll in the UK too, this company is now a company to watch out for, now if they could only just make some good sports cars.

08 April 2011 12:52



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bertandnairobi says

RE: Kia Picanto 1.25 5dr (2011) CAR review

"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." wrote Mr Barry. Then don´t tap them. I´m guilty of this habit myself, so I am not above reproach. I once unfairly concluded a car was a bit tinselly after I jostled some bits of door trim and heard some creaks. A little later I realised that ordinarily I´d never do that so what did it matter if something squeaked when subjected to an action I would never otherwise do.

This review shows how far Peugeot and Renault have strayed from their roots. This is the kind of light and nimble and unfussy vehicle PSA and Renault used to do. Schreyer and his team have done a good job but I wish the fabrics were less dreary. There is no need for little cars to look as sober as mid-spec saloons, is there?

08 April 2011 09:37

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