Looking out onto the car park, here at MotorMartin Towers, it can be quite difficult to distinguish between individual models when some manufacturers seemingly forget about giving their products an identity. Preferring instead the generic approach, designing out any sense of personality so as to not offend the different sensibilities within their markets with an increasingly ‘one world’ approach. It’s a shame as the net result is the chance that a superb ‘Real life’ car is lost amongst a sea of mediocrity.
Fortunately there must be something in the water at Kia as the bright Yellow, or Honey (metallic) according to Kia, Picanto on test is most definitely not going to be lost in a car park and for that reason alone, the little Kia is to be applauded. Indeed, visitors to MotorMartin Towers found themselves stopping dead in their tracks, straining to see the badge on the front of this new City Car, the intriguingly title Picanto SR7.
There’s no doubt in MotorMartin’s mind that the Picanto SR7 on test is a particularly good looking City Car. Kia’s now familiar ‘Tiger’ grill, large front fog lights, 14” steel wheels and deep, bright yellow body work (see above,) combine well together and, when added to the strong shoulder crease running the length of the car, rear light clusters, privacy glass and gorgeous chrome door handles, give an impression of quality that is perhaps surprising, yet is definitely most welcome. It would certainly appear to be the case that although the fit, feel and finish of City Cars has come an awful long way over the last three or four years, yet perhaps our perceptions of these, the littlest of runarounds, have not really moved with the times.
Step inside and the surprises keep coming as the Kia reveals similarly impressive attention to detail as with the excellent exterior. The interior plastics used are more than up to the job and although they certainly aren’t the last word in luxury, they aren’t as cheap feeling as some whilst the metallic paint of the centre fascia provides a welcome contrast with the rest of the dashboard. In MotorMartin’s opinion, Kia have managed to create an interior that is perfectly up to the job of transporting yourself and your passengers around town, to the shops and away for the odd adventure, this is a great place to spend time. There’s enough interest created by the sensible use of technology and style to keep the driver happy whilst front and rear passengers will at least be able to enjoy enough room to keep everyone happy. Perhaps not for a European tour though.
The premium black cloth upholstered seats are comfortable and supportive enough, with the driver’s side adding height adjustment to the more regular features, which, when combined with a height adjustable steering wheel, make it relatively easy to get comfortable in and whilst there is room enough for five, those with the need for booster seats will only be able to fit two such devices in the rear at any one time. But come on, this isn’t really the car to buy if you’re going to be taking a growing family out with you every time you start up the Picanto. There are bigger cars out there for that, after all.
With plenty of standard kit, the Picanto provides excellent value for money, arriving at MotorMartin Towers as it did, sporting ABS, Hill Start Assist, Automatic Headlights, Daytime Running Lights, Electronically Adjustable and Heated Door Mirrors and Automatic Wipers. Inside the Kia you are just as well catered for with a decent sounding RDS Radio CD including Bluetooth with Voice Recognition and Music Streaming, USB and Aux ports and a trip computer. There are plenty of more expensive cars out there on the forecourt that have no-where near the same amount of equipment as this, the smallest Kia.
There’s even a couple of cup holders for those in the front and more than enough pockets and cubby holes providing storage on the go. The boot is a decent size and copes with the weekly shop as long as you don’t over indulge although the rear seats split 60:40 if more space is required. Overall then, not bad at all.
On the road, the surprisingly throaty and charismatic, 1.0L, 3-cylinder engine provides a more than adequate 68bhp at 6000rpm and max torque of 70.2 lb/ft at 3500 which is comparable with the opposition and allows the Kia to hold its own in traffic, on A roads and on Motorways, with the suspension protecting you from the worst of the road surface. In fact, that 3-cylinder engine is a little beauty, offering accessible power just when and where you need it. Keeping up with traffic flow is easy enough in town and the littlest Kia manages to thrum along at a steady 70mph (once you get up to speed) for mile upon mile. It really is all about keeping up momentum and becomes quite addictive the more you drive the SR7.
The Picanto’s small dimensions and light steering mean that it is extremely manoeuvrable on the daily commute and you soon find yourself enjoying the challenges offered by the traffic as you make progress, dodging back and forth into and out of the smallest of gaps.
Over a mixed week of driving, the Kia will able to return up to a claimed 67.3mpg when driven sensibly, so the savings on petrol, especially for those downsizing, will be immediately apparent and with CO2 emissions of only 99g/km placing the Picanto into the all-important tax band A, there is no doubt in MotorMartin’s mind that this is a cheap car to run with fantastic long term savings possible. After all, an annual Road Tax bill of £0 is an important consideration when looking at cars in this particular segment, as it is an area that can offer a significant reduction in motoring costs over the length of a car’s ownership.
For me, this Kia offers quite fantastic value for money. With the Picanto range starting from only £8,695 and this ‘SR7’ edition coming in at £9,845, it really is quite a bargain and if you’re in the market for a small, economical and fun to drive City Car, you won’t go wrong with this, the littlest Kia.
Where will you go?