Jul 28 2009 Peter Hayward
Superminis don't come cheaper than Picanto
SUPERMINIS don't come any cheaper than the Kia Picanto, and you don't have to give up any creature comforts.
The little Kia is just about as well equipped as much more expensive competitors and also pretty close in every other way.
It's available with 1.0 and 1.1-litre petrol engines, both of which give fair performance and excellent economy.
And of course, it's a five door as standard, unlike most of the cheaper cars from other makers.
It's smooth and reasonably quiet but soundproofing is not at the top of the list of necessary items.
Power steering takes the strain and gives a fair amount of feel at speed, handling is safe and road holding reasonably sticky.
Acceleration in the first three gears is good, but there is not much in fourth and nothing at all in fifth, which is just for cruising.
Under 30 miles an hour in town the ride is pretty good, but at speed on rougher country roads, it is a little jittery and unsettled.
The driving position is good, with height and reach adjustable steering, and all the controls are light including the clutch and gearchange.
Air conditioning is standard on the top models, but as with all small cars, leave it off for best performance and economy.
Seats are comfortable, interior good looking and rear legroom better than many other small cars.
Price: Pay about £2,400 for an '04 04-reg GS 1.0, £3,200 for an '05 05-reg 1.1LX, or £4,300 for an '06 06-reg 1.1 LX auto
Mechanical: 60bhp, 999cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 93mph
0-62mph: 15.9 seconds
Combined mpg: 55
Insurance group: 2
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
Main rival: Vauxhall Corsa, Hyundai i10