March 19, 2018

2018 Kia Picanto S Review

kia picanto

Kia dropped a toe in the water with second generation Picanto a couple of years ago and it sold in enough numbers to convince Kia to go ahead with gen III.

It’s an interesting, cheap to run,  tiddler-size, five-door hatch with a mix of old and new technology and a smattering of advanced driver assist technology.

Looks good though, certainly better than any of its direct competitors.


Easily the best looking tiny-tot, the Kia Picanto bears the stamp of master car designer Peter Schreyer all over it.

The chunky front flows into sharp style lines on the side to the angular tail. It looks robust and is a practical shape with plenty of headroom and seats for four inside along with a reasonable boot.

Access is easy through large doors and the size of the Picanto pays huge dividends in town for parking and the ducking and weaving associated with driving there.

With minimal overhangs front and rear, you always know where the Kia Picanto is positioned and the glasshouse is big enough to afford excellent visibility in all directions.

Small 14″ steel wheels detract a bit but the overall look is good.

kia picanto interiorInterior

Inside is a fairly hard, grey space with no centre armrest but the design of the dash is attractive centred on a large info’ screen and an instrument pod in front of the driver.

Numerous controls are positioned on the wheel or close to the driver in a cockpit sort of arrangement.

Not much seat adjustment is available but I found the driver’s seat acceptable, others complained. Upholstery is a serviceable grey fabric.

The audio system is acceptable but the touchscreen controller is too slow to boot up with activated apps.

Bluetooth audio needs a full hook-up routine once you switch off the car – even for refuelling. It’s frustrating.


Kia has been clever with specs on Picanto providing just enough kit to put a smile on your dial but they didn’t overspend that’s for sure.

It gets:

  • Cruise control
  • Auto headlights
  • Reverse parking sensors
  • Reversing camera
  • OK trip computer
  • Handy storage compartments
  • Decent size info touchscreen

kia picanto infotainment screenDrive and Engine

Power comes from an old school 1,25-litre multi point injection, petrol engine good for 62kW and 122Nm in a car weighing in at 1014kg. A

lso out of the old school is the four-speed auto (manual is a five speed) with manual select mode. What we want to know is who makes a four-speed auto these days?

It drives the front wheels fairly efficiently so long as you don’t push things too far. Although, if you hammer Picanto auto off the line, it goes better than if you wait until it’s doing 30kmh before flooring it. Go figure.

They say it will do 5.8 litres/100km which seems about right and on E10 too so there’s a saving there.

Locally calibrated handling is acceptable with quickish steering and relatively controlled ride.

The Kia Picanto is a touch top heavy and on skinny tyres.

The auto hunts when you’re going up hills and want to maintain a chosen speed on the highway.

Dropping down a cog elicits a big jump in engine revs.


Scores a four-star ANCAP crash rating but does have multiple airbags, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning and a reverse camera.

Reverse parking sensors are handy as are the auto headlights.

Good Bits

  • Looks Good
  • Affordable
  • Economical
  • Easy to park
  • Best warranty in Australia 7/unlimited km
  • Smattering of advanced driver technology
  • Passes EU 5 emissions
  • Squeeze in 5 at a pinch
  • Australian calibration

Not So Good Bits

  • Less efficient multi point injection
  • Less efficient 4-speed auto transmission
  • Annoying Bluetooth
  • Raucous engine when worked hard

kia picanto side and rearSummary

Picanto makes a great city shopping trolley as it’s economical and super easy to park. Looks good too and the purchase price at $15,690 for the auto is affordable, as are running costs with fixed price servicing.

It’s no sporty hatch but doesn’t pretend to be.

Take a posse out on a Friday night or go on a shopping expedition, park nearby and it’s happy days.

The main issue with Picanto is the similarity in size and price with Kia’s own Rio, a bigger car with more of everything and almost as practical around town.

Facts and Figures: 2018 Kia Picanto S auto

  • Engine:  2.15 litre petrol 4-cylinder 62kW/122Nm
  • Transmission: 4-speed auto
  • Safety: 4-star ANCAP
  • Origin: Korea
  • Warranty:7 years/unlimited km
  • Price: $15,690

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