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Click to view road test review picture gallery“Kia’s revamped
 
compact five-door
  Picanto hatchback
  drives easy, is easy
  on the eye and, at
 
6,995, is easy on
  your pocket, too..
.”

THE PICANTO IS A SMALL CAR WITH THE ABILITY FOR BIG SALES, and Kia's intention is
to sell 6,000 Picantos a year
in the UK at realistic prices.
Accordingly, the published starting price for the range is a very realistic 5,995, rising to 7,995 for the top model. There are two petrol engine options — 61bhp 1.0-litre and 64bhp 1.1-litre — with automatic trans-mission options available for the larger unit. Manual versions achieve more than 40mpg in town running; and in the excess of 50mpg on the official combined cycle.

The revised Picanto range is now available in Picanto, Picanto 2, Picanto Ice and Picanto 3 levels of specification and there are 1.0 and 1.1-litre petrol engine options. Automatic transmission is available for 1.1-litre Picanto 2 and Picanto Ice derivatives.

Whereas the previous Picanto was available in just three derivatives, refreshed Picanto comes in six varieties with the 6,995 1.1-litre Ice version likely to be the most popular.

Ice manual and automatic versions are now on sale and the rest of the range will be available from Kia's UK dealerships from 1 January 2008. Production of the refreshed Picanto models remains in Korea and there is also the possibility of the current three-year cover for Korean-built models being increased to five-years in the not-too-distant future.

The entry-level Picanto now has four seats instead of the five in the rest of the range, and runs on 13-inch wheels. These measures reduce weight and rolling resistance, helping the car to emit just 117g/km of CO2 — a figure low enough to put it in VED Band B at 35 a year and make it exempt from the proposed London Congestion Charge.

On the styling side, the revamped Picanto keeps its distinctive grille but there is a new design front bumper, a new bonnet, new front
wings and new headlamp units that combine to give the car a much fresher look. The rear bumper and lamp units have also been revised. Together, these changes add 40mm to the car's overall length but
at just 3,535mm it is still a very compact five-door hatchback.

Inside, there is a redesigned interior, now with all-black dash and door trims to give the car an even more premium look and feel. There are new upper and lower fascia sections and a new floor console, plus a new steering wheel featuring a chrome Kia badge. The instruments are now backlit in orange — echoing the style introduced for the cee'd family.

Seat height adjustment becomes standard on Picanto Ice, Picanto 2 and Picanto 3. The Picanto 3 also gains iPod, AUX and USB connection sockets.

Full cloth seat trim and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear selector knob are standard from Picanto 2 upwards, as well as seat inserts colour-co-ordinated with the exterior paintwork. As the more luxurious and sporty offerings in the range, Ice and Picanto 3 ver-
sions have all-black trim.

For the Picanto 3 there is also a sports body kit that adds front and rear bumper skirts, a black mesh grille and a roof spoiler as well as different instrument trim and front headrests.

The 1.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol engine under the new-look bonnet
of my test car produces 64bhp and 72lb ft of torque. Enough to push
it along (where legal) at 96mph and provide 0-62mph acceleration of 15.1 seconds.

As a first car, or a couple's only car — or even a single person's cost-effective pride and joy — nobody can quibble at the price and the specification they will get for their money. Kia admits it will get very little profit from the Picanto, but their view is that it will get new customers into the brand. At these prices, despite limited rear seat legroom, and a choppy ride on poorer road surfaces with high-ish road noise intrusion, it simply cannot fail to impress.

So while it is not the most sophisticated car of its size on the road,
it is safe, relatively roomy for its size, well equipped and drives pretty well in town — or at 70mph on the motorway. Additional plus points include the five-door layout, compact length, low price, low running costs and low insurance. It is certainly not the most frugal for fuel compared with the latest generation of 'green' cars coming thick and fast to the market — although most motorists will surely be glad of
its 50+mpg — but it is easy to drive, easy to park and, most important of all for many customers, very easy on the pocket. — David Miles

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Kia Picanto 1.1 Ice | 6,995
Maximum speed: 96mph | 0-62mph: 15.1 seconds
Overall test MPG: 53.3mpg | Power: 64bhp | Torque: 72lb ft

CO2 126g/km | VED Band C 115 | Insurance group 3
Visit Kia's website Click to go there now

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