Last Chance to Buy: Kia Picanto

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The Independent Online


Launched: 2004

Engine sizes: 1.0; 1.1

Performance: (1.1) top speed 96mph 0-60mph in 14.8 seconds

Economy: 54.3mpg

Safety: NCAP, 3 stars

When's it going?

In the autumn there will be a freshened-up Picanto with a rounder front end, plus new lights, grille and air intake. There's also a bigger rear bumper. Inside there's a revised dash, but otherwise it is unchanged. So why not stick with the current model then?

What's good about it?

Just about everything really with just a few exceptions and compromises that you have to make on the grounds that this is a very cheap car.

Indeed this may be a cheap car, but that does not mean you will have a Spartan specification. Entry level S specification means that you have power steering and a CD player which isn't too bad. The GS though factors in central locking and electric windows. Considering that the Picanto is so cheap you might as well go for an LS which has air conditioning, four electric windows, electric door mirrors and remote locking.

On top of that you get one of the lowest ownership packages around as the average fuel consumption is around 55mpg and the insurance groupings are just 2 and 3. Buying a Picanto in the first place could not be cheaper as Kia has in the past offered £1 deposit deals. On the practical side this is a small car but a proper four-door one with wide openings that means access is easy. You should be able to get a couple of six footers in the back, whilst up front the dashboard is easy to read.

Yes this is a car built to a low price that is practical and affordable and there is nothing wrong with that. You even fall in love the pig-nosed snout after a while.

What's bad about it?

Nothing really. Nit pickers though may suggest that both the 1.0 and 1.1 engines can be a little noisy when pressed hard. Certainly the smaller engine is going to struggle if you do a lot of motorway work. Drivers may not think that the seat is that adjustable especially if they are on the tall side. If you like driving then the ride and handling are not as good as superminis that cost a lot more money, but surely that's the point. It is competent and not remotely dangerous or uncomfortable.

How much?

Kia doesn't have any amazing offers on the Picanto at the moment although you will get seven days' free insurance. There are only very marginal savings to be had on what is already a cheap car. So a car supermarket like Motorhouse 2000 might seem the best place to go. They had an old specification but unregistered 1.1 LX at £5699. Apparently there was a choice of colours and that would save around £700 on the original retail price.

Meanwhile, Kia dealers also have some pre-registered examples and are offering the 1.0GS at £5695.

Any snags?

No. There are no recalls affecting this model. All you need to do is make sure that there are no parking scrapes and chipped wheels to put right.

All will still be under warranty so there should be a full service history and absolutely no worries so it is the perfect buy really.