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Kia spices up third-generation Picanto city car's tech and drive in bid to woo younger buyers

LED lights and large air intake liven up Kia Picanto's face. Picture: Kia

LED lights and large air intake liven up Kia Picanto's face. Picture: Kia

Kia

Kia has updated the Picanto, its popular city car, and hoping this new model will also appeal to a younger market, says James Baggott.

More youthful, hi-tech, roomy Kia Picanto is also better to drive in a bid to attract younger buyers. Picture: KiaMore youthful, hi-tech, roomy Kia Picanto is also better to drive in a bid to attract younger buyers. Picture: Kia

What’s new?

You may think the Kia Picanto is the car most likely to be driven by your granny, and you’d be right. But now the manufacturer is looking to ditch that blue-rinse image and target a younger age group with its suitably spiced-up city car.

Designed to attract youthful buyers, the refreshed model teams sporty looks with a more focused driving style to woo young professionals to part with their cash. But are the tweaks enough?

GT-Line and GT-Line S models give new Picanto sporty edge . Picture: KiaGT-Line and GT-Line S models give new Picanto sporty edge . Picture: Kia

Looks and image

Kia’s worked hard to liven things up with an extended ‘tiger nose’ grille, smart LED driving lights and a large air intake at the front.

Double wheel arches add some flair at the sides, while a ‘shark’ antenna has filtered down to the city car segment for the first time. And, for added sportiness, the GT-Line specification gets some random red trim – nothing says sporty like added red inserts – and a twin-tipped exhaust.

Dashes of red trim add to the sporty flavour of the new Kia Picanto. Picture: KiaDashes of red trim add to the sporty flavour of the new Kia Picanto. Picture: Kia

Space and practicality

Kia’s second best-selling UK model after Sportage, the third-generation Picanto has a huge weight on its shoulders to perform. Kia thinks the new tech – such as wireless charging for your mobile, parking camera and Apple CarPlay – will tempt younger, first-time car buyers.

At 3.6 metres, Kia has managed to create a little more cabin space by increasing the wheelbase and reducing the front overhang, but you’re still going to wish your legs were foldable if sat in the back. Up front you’ll sit shoulder to shoulder with your passenger, but there’s ample legroom and the driving position’s comfortable.

Luggage space has gone up from 200 to a class-best 255 litres, rising to 1,010 litres with the rear seats folded.

A longer wheelbase create slightly more cabin space but it's still limited in the back. Picture: KiaA longer wheelbase create slightly more cabin space but it's still limited in the back. Picture: Kia

Autonomous emergency braking – which warns, then stops you if it senses a crash – as well as a smart torque vectoring system that improves handling by braking individual wheels are also available.

Behind the wheel

Older buyers looking for a relaxed, comfortable ride will notice the improved suspension and capable way it deals with nasty road surfaces while Kia hopes younger drivers will appreciate the sprightly engines, quicker turn in and faster steering.

Kia Picanto's has grown from 200 to 255 litres. Picture: KiaKia Picanto's has grown from 200 to 255 litres. Picture: Kia

Overall, there’s a noticeable improvement in both ride and handling, largely thanks to reduced weight and stiffer body, but whether that’s suitable for you will depend on your driving style.

Value for money

Trim levels follow the conventional Kia strategy of 1, 2, and 3 with GT-Line and GT-Line S.

GT-Line includes 16in alloy wheels, sports bumpers and side sills, black and red faux leather seats, electric folding mirrors with LED indicators, privacy glass on the rear windows and tailgate, bi-function projection headlamp units, LED daytime running lamps and rear lights and stainless steel pedals with non-slip rubber inserts.

Who would buy one?

Kia believes buyers will be largely women, describing them as ‘urban and dynamic’, and that, typically, the Picanto is used for commuting and mostly second cars.

TECH AND SPEC

Price: Kia Picanto GT-Line 1,25 £12,450 (range £9,450 to £13,950)

Engine: 1.2-litre, 83bhp, four-cylinder petrol

Performance: 0-60mph 11.6 seconds; top speed: 107mph

MPG: 61.4 combined

CO2 emissions: 106g/km

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