We’ve had the new Kia Picanto in for review with range-topping GT-Line S spec and the 83bhp 1.25 litre petrol engine. Is the Picanto GT-Line S really a sporty city car?
The Kia Picanto is Kia’s little City Car, and it’s been with us for more than a decade, but this year Kia has delivered the third generation of the Picanto, and delivered ‘Sporty’ versions in the GT-Line and GT-Line S.
The latest Picanto gets more room, better looks and a better spec, with a wide choice of trims from the 1, 2 and 3 versions through to the new sporty GT-Line offerings, although engine choice, until a new 99bhp version of the 1.0 litre turbo arrives is limited to a 65bhp 1.0 litre and an 83bhp 1.25 litre.
And that means this review car – the 2017 Kia Picanto GT-Line S – has to make do with the 83bhp 1.25 litre petrol to zoom it round the urban landscape, despite its sporty looks.
But, just like the rest of the new Picanto range, the GT-Line models do come with a good spec too, adding stuff like 16″ alloys, extra chrome, a sporty body kit, dual exhaust and faux leather to the list, and the GT-Line S also adds Keyless, 7″ infotainment, Sat Nav, Climate and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the list.
But do the extra goodies – and more purposeful look – make this GT-Line S an appealing buy, or is the show and no extra go a bit of a let down?
Kia Picanto GT-Line S Inside and Out
The changes Kia has wrought to the latest Picanto make it look more purposeful – even aggressive – and the GT-Line S spec accentuates that further.
The bumpers get more sporty and there’s twin exhaust pipes at the back (despite no more power), a set of good looking 16″ alloys, added chrome bits and bigger sills, and it all adds up to a convincing look that conveys the sportiness of the spec without going all ‘Halfords Glitterball’.
Inside is decent too, with black and red leather (well, fake leather – but it looks the part), a decent-looking steering wheel, an infotainment screen atop the dash, good HVAC controls and enough room up front for just about anyone, and space in the back for a couple of proper-sized people (even one in the middle too at a pinch).
The stuff you touch is good quality and, in this GT-Line S car, there’s a decent spec of goodies too.
They include heated fronts seats, Cruise, electric windows, 7″ Touchscreen Infotainment with Sat Nav, RDS and DAB, Rear Parking Sensors (which, if you need them on the little flat-backed Picanto you probably shouldn’t be driving), Reversing Camera, Bluetooth and Kia Connected Services for Traffic and Speed Cameras and more.
It all adds up to a feeling that the cabin of the Picanto is a step up the ladder from City Car status – a properly grown-up little car with nice styling, good equipment levels and clever packaging.
Picanto GT-Line S on the Road
The sporty looks of the Picanto promise a little fire cracker of a car for blatting round the urban landscape, but even the GT-Line S has to make do with just a 1.25 litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a modest 83bhp.
But despite that being a little disappointing on paper (and more power would be nice), it’s a decent lump and works well in the Picanto.
Power goes to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox, and although it’s a cog down on what you might hope for it is a decent gearbox with good ratios and a nice throw, and it suits the Picanto very well.
It lets you row on the car convincingly, and although 83bhp isn’t going to frighten the horses or win the traffic light Grand Prix hands down, it does feel lively and responsive and quite free-revving.
There’s slightly stiffer suspension in this GT-Line S than on the regular Picantos, and that, thankfully, doesn’t relate to a ride that sends you to the Chiropractor but does mean very flat cornering with no rock and roll and the ability to carry speed when you’re pushing on round the twisty stuff.
Around town the steering is light and accurate and lets you play at the nip and tuck joy of driving something small and nimble in town – helped by a nice tight turning circle – and even on appealing B-roads the Picanto is a fun little proposition, carrying good speed, responding well and making you smile.
Even on the motorway, not the natural environment for a City Car, the Picanto acquits itself well, with wind and tyre noise decently subdued and, only occasionally, a wish there was that extra cog on the gearbox.
The Picanto GT-Line S is a properly good little City Car to drive.
2017 Picanto GT-Line S Verdict
The new Kia Picanto has grown up from the previous iteration, and its new looks are more appealing and have turned the Picanto in to a very decent looking City Car.
Adding the GT-Line S spec to that with cleverly judged sporty bits has added to its appeal, and the interior is good enough to have come from a car in a class above.
On top of that, the Picanto has an impressive amount of room – in the cabin and boot – for a City Car making it a practical proposition for families who would rather have something small and nimble to do family chores.
But the GT-Line S spec is probably aimed at a younger audience of car buyers than the regular Picanto, and there’s no doubt it’s more visually appealing.
Yes, it would be nice to have a bit more power than the 83bhp the Picanto delivers, but in the real world it’s far from lethargic and does a good job of blatting you around, whether that’s in town, in the country or even on the motorway.
It all adds up to a properly appealing little car that’s capable of putting a smile on your face, whether it’s darting around town or crossing the country, good levels of equipment and a general feeling the Picanto GT-Line is is a properly sorted little car.
Add to that Kia’s seven year warranty, and the Picanto GT-Line is is a very appealing choice.
2017 Picanto GT-Line S Quick Specs
- Engine: 1248cc, 83bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 12.0 seconds / Top Speed 107mph
- Economy: 61.2mpg – Official / 41.7 mpg – Test
- Emissions: 106g/km
- Price: £13,950
- Test car supplied by Kia UK