Kia Picanto X-Line - rugged runabout that's height of fashion
Kia has risen to the challenge of the city car crossover craze with a more rugged-looking, SUV-styling Picanto X-Line. Motoring editor Andy Russell climbs aboard.
The more popular SUVs become, and the longer our love affair with them goes on, the more manufacturers are making the most of the crossover craze.
SUVs and crossovers have been a bright spot in a rather gloomy new car market. The result is we are now seeing SUV-inspired spin-offs and, having had rugged lifestyle estates, the trend has now spread to other sectors, notably city cars.
They’re coming thick and fast with the likes of Adam Rocks and now Viva Rocks from Vauxhall, Ford Ka+ Active, Suzuki Ignis and Kia has boosted its Picanto range with the first crossover-themed X-Line and higher-spec X-Line S as an alternative to sporty GT-Line.
Looks and image
Sharing the look of the conventional city car, the X-Line’s butcher body styling and bumpers mean it’s slightly longer and wider. It’s also taller with 15mm extra ground clearance.
The SUV-style bumpers feature silver-coloured skid plates while black cladding on the side sills and wheel arches enhance that look of being higher off the ground but even the smart 16in alloy wheels look a bit lost in the raised wheelarches. Completing the look are twin exhausts, rear privacy glass and LED front daytime running and rear lights.
Under the bonnet
The only engine is an 83bhp, 1.25-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol but, without a turbo, it feels flat and doesn’t rev freely – more noise than performance.
Taking a relaxed approach, making the most of the low-speed flexibility, is more pleasurable but I still only saw 45mpg overall.
The five-speed manual gearbox has a light, if sloppy, shift and but there’s also a four-speed automatic transmission.
How it drives
Supple suspension is geared for comfort and, combined with wheels pushed out to the corners, the Picanto deals with bumpy roads pretty effectively for a small car, just as well as it will spend much of its life in town and city driving but poor surfaces create tyre roar.
Light steering makes parking a doddle but lacks feel on twisty roads and the extra ground clearance means more body lean cornering but it handles cross-country motoring competently, borne out by a 175-mile, four-hour trek but I wouldn’t want to do it regularly!
Space and comfort
The latest-generation Picanto’s longer wheelbase creates more cabin space and, with give and take, four adults can cope over reasonable distances.
The boot has also grown 55 litres to a class-leading 255 litres so it’s pretty practical for everyday needs. Seats split 60/40 and fold flat, to free up 1,010 litres, but step up from the boot floor although X-Line S gets a twin-level boot floor to create a flush load bay.
Storage, or lack of it, is an issue with a small glovebox and compartment in the sliding central front armrest, slim front doorbins and none in the back.
At the wheel
The interior is built to a budget, with lots of hard plastic, but no complaints about the fit and finish and the fascia is user-friendly with sensible switchgear and clear instruments. A high-level seven-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, and compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, works well.
Grey faux leather front seats are comfortable and provide decent support but the rear bench is not so shapely.
For most people in the market for a good-value city car, the standard Picanto will fit the bill but the on-trend X-Line stands out more in the fashion stakes so will appeal to the young and young at heart.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Kia Picanto X-Line 1.25, £12,595 (automatic £13,245)
Engine: 1,248cc, 83bhp, four-cylinder petrol with five-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-60mph 11.6 seconds; top speed 107mph
MPG: Urban 47.9; extra urban 74.3; combined 61.4
CO2 emissions: 106g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 22pc
Insurance group: 7 (out of 50)
Warranty: Seven years or 100,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 3,670mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,625mm; H 1,500mm