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Kia Picanto GT Line S: The Missing Picanto

  • Parkers runs a Kia Picanto GT Line S
  • Features new three-cylinder, 1.0-litre engine
  • Rivals include Hyundai i10 and Toyota Aygo

This week's update: our Kia Picanto is still not back from being repaired so we're comparing it to the Kia Rio replacement to see how the larger car compares to our city car

Scroll down or use the links below to navigate
 1. Welcome
 2. First impressions
 3. VS a 1990s hot hatch
 4. Comfort and practicality
 5. Into the city
6. Mid-term report
7. vs Rivals 8. vs Kia Rio
 

Update 1: Welcome to the fleet

Kia's spicy Picanto city car arrives with sporty bodykit and surprising turn of pace

The third incarnation of the Picanto has garnered positive reviews since its launch in 2017, with the range topping, performance orientated GT-Line model also winning its fair share of plaudits. It’s aggressive styling, sharp handling and exhaustive kit list of the small city car impressed at launch, but many questioned whether the power plant lived up to the car’s sporting ambitions. While the 1.25 litre four-cylinder engine is a great free revving unit, it couldn’t really be considered a true performance motor.

New engine

Kia has now added the T-GDi three-cylinder engine to the GT-Line range. It’s only 1.0-litre in capacity, but comes equipped with direct injection and a turbocharger, which boosts it’s performance to 99hp up from the 1.25 litre's 83hp. It’s an engine which is shared with the Picanto’s bigger siblings, the Rio and Ceed.

The result is the most powerful engine that’s ever been available in a Picanto and it’s this engine in GT-Line spec we have on test for the next six months. Will this new addition make the GT-Line a true mini hot-hatch it so wants to be? Over the coming months we will doubtlessly find out.

It had to be red

Our Picanto comes in the premium Chilli Red finish. Well, it had to be red for a sporty-looking car. While the fine-flecked metallic paint provides a dazzling deep finish it’s worth noting the four other colours available all come with sporty red body trim around the front bumper and door bases. Those red details are swapped for chrome on our model. That makes our car look more sophisticated but loses some of the visual sportiness that comes with the other colour variants.

This GT-Line arrives in the ‘S’ variant and is packed with a bewildering list of options and goodies. There are some real big car features including:

With the only additional option the £515 premium paint finish our Picanto comes in at £15,235 on the road, that’s not cheap for a car of this size but then there’s an incredible amount of kit bundled within that price.

First impressions

Pulling away for the first time I immediately spun the front wheels on my gravel drive. Not intentionally mind, I was trying to be restrained. It's just the Picanto power delivery is present right from the off with no hint of turbo lag. Turning out of my drive onto a clear country lane I kept accelerating and that sharp, instant tug kept on pulling right through the rev range up to the red line of 6,500rpm. Wow, that felt impressive. It sounded great too. I find the thrum of a three-cylinder engine quite sporty sounding anyway but the T-GDi engine has a rorty edge that makes me think it could be very addictive indeed.

The Kia was immediately deployed on some long distance motorway commuting duty. Admittedly it’s not what the car is designed for, so I'll return to how it fared with this task at a later stage. In the meantime I'm off to find some twisty driving roads and will report back.

By Peter Allen

 


 

Update 2: First impressions

What's the Picanto like after the first thousand miles?

Kia Picanto red

The Picanto finally got the chance to play on some twisty driving roads after some dull motorway commuting. Again the engine continues to impress, there is still no perceivable turbo lag that I can detect. Kia has used some clever variable valve timing and crankshaft design to achieve this light switch fast power delivery. That delivery is remarkably linear too, building smoothly right up to the red line.

The ride also has a sporty setup. It’s firm but not harsh and still adequately comfortable for gentler journeys. The only downside is it can be noisy inside the cabin, not from the delightfully resonating engine but from road noise. Small city cars often compromise on sound deadening to save weight and cost. Combined with the Picanto’s wider, lower profile tyres it’s noticeable how much din is coming from the road. Travelling along a recently graveled road the Kia made a real racket and sounded like an upside down hailstorm.

Kia Picanto cornering

The handling completes the performance car feel. It’s composed and offers an incredible amount of grip. So much so that occasionally the front end will dig in on a corner and turn too much. Fortunately this deviation is well telegraphed and can easily be dialed out without any drama.

Fast, but not that fast

So it sounds as if the new engine finally transforms this GT-Line model into the hot hatch it’s always wanted to be. Well, yes and no. The T-GDi engine does make the car feel a lot faster but we’re not quite up to hot hatch territory yet. The power to weight ratio of the Picanto clocks in at 98hp per tonne but if you compare that to a benchmark hot hatch like a VW Golf GTi it’s a different story. The granddaddy of performance hatches boasts figures of 149hp per tonne, almost a third up on the Kia. It’s also 2.5 seconds faster from 0-60mph too.

Seriously fun

Looking at the bare figures the Kia probably couldn’t be considered a true hot hatch but the important factor is it feels faster than it is. There’s the noise and drama under acceleration, there’s the sporty ride and even the diminutive size of the car all contribute to a feeling of rapid speed and excitement. This lack of outright performance also makes the car more fun. You can explore the outer limits of the car’s abilities without worrying if you’re going to end up in a hedge or adding points to your license. It’s performance car driving with some of the stress and worry taken out of the equation.

Kia Picanto driving

I’d also like to see some 0-30mph times too for T-GDi equipped Picanto too. I’d wager they’re closer to the grown up hot hatches than the 0-60mph times. With the lack of turbo lag and the relatively short geared first and second I could imagine the Kia mixing it with the best of the hot hatch elite around town.

Not all the drama is contained to the way it drives. It’s also an aggressive and racy looking car. Especially considering how sweet and innocent the base model looks in comparison. The huge wide, deep front spoiler makes the car look imposing and bigger that it actually is.  The sculpted air intakes are another tick on the performance car essentials checklist, as are the twin exhaust pipes. It’s just a shame Kia still call this car the Picanto. That cutesy name just doesn’t sit well with this angry looking version. That’s been the reaction from most people who’ve seen the car in the flesh too, they usually quip ‘I thought you were getting a Picanto?’

 


 

Update 3: Kia Picanto vs Peugeot 106 GTi

We reckon our souped-up city car is channeling a hot hatch from the past...

While out enjoying this fabulous small performance car the other day I tried casting my mind back to a time when I last had this much fun in a car this small. I realised it must have been a good 20 years ago and after a quick look in an old back issue of Car magazine I discovered it was in fact exactly 20 years ago.

Peugeot 106 GTi

Back in 1997/98 my then colleague at Car magazine, Paul Horrell, ran a Peugeot 106 GTi as a long-term test car for over a year. At the time his house was quicker to get to by walking than driving on the congested streets of London so he didn’t have much cause to use it during the week. I gladly snaffled the keys every night and ended up racking up as many miles in that car as he did.

It made my commute home to South East London from our city centre office an absolute hoot. I remember our repro house couriers had plotted a route for me made up of their tried and tested rat runs through East London and the Blackwall Tunnel. It got me home in half the time and actually made it a pleasant, relatively traffic-free journey. Very quickly, thanks to the 106, I fell in love with the concept of small hot hatches, they just seemed to make so much sense driving in the city.

New decade, same problem

The 106 GTi has now reached almost iconic status, but how much have small hot hatches changed in what is a considerable amount of time in automotive evolution. You’d think the difference would be striking but it’s actually not that clear cut. The Picanto’s 1.0-litre T-GDi engine relies on a turbo added to its three cylinders to give the car the necessary oomph while keeping a check on mpg.

It seems the conventional wisdom these days that to reach equivalent performance while reducing emissions you need a turbo. Even Porsche is doing it with its sacred flat six 911 engine. What it does mean is the Kia’s engine is much more responsive at lower revs than the icon from 20 years ago and makes for even more pleasurable driving in the city, bursting away from the lights at a rapid rate.

Back in the day when fuel efficiency was less of a priority, manufacturers threw capacity at an engine to give you the thrills. I remember the 106's naturally-aspirated four-cylinder 1.6-litre engine was great in the mid-range revs and went a little frenetic, in a good way, at even higher revs. With these two approaches to performance engine design you’d think there would be wildly different fuel economy readings but after 20 years of development the figures are still very close.

The 106 - after 14 months and 18,000 miles - clocked in at 33.2mpg. And with the latest 1,000 miles of motoring, the Kia posts a figure of, yes you guessed it, 33.2mpg. The 106 actually generates 20 more horsepower than the Kia and slices a good second off the 0-60 time.

Peugeot 106 GTi

The 106 GTi was sold right up until 2003

Although my memory is fading (it was a long time ago) I remember the Peugeot generally felt a lot faster although the Picanto’s rorty engine note makes up for some of that lost sensation. It just goes to show that despite the Kia having an undoubtedly more sophisticated engine than its 90s counterpart there is still no magic bullet to making a performance engine frugal too.

Quality interior

Key to the 106's performance was a power to weight ratio of 130hp per tonne, a very respectful figure at the time that bettered much more expensive hot hatches. Despite the Picanto being a smaller car it is actually 100kg heavier than the 106 and combined with just 99hp pushes the Picanto’s figure down to 99hp per tonne.

The necessity of greater safety features and consumers' demand for improved tech and interior extras continues to push car weights up in general. That extra interior kit does make the most drastic difference to these two performance comrades. Small cars are now plush in comparison to their more basic elders and the GT-Line S model takes this trend to even greater heights.

The 106 interior plastics were brutally hard and the garish seat cloth seemed dated even when new. In comparison the Kia’s interior is a very considered and fine detailed affair. There are tasteful red flashes on the quality leather-look seats. Intricate red stitching around the black door grabs. Even the additional cheaper plastic door panels are well coordinated in black and red graphics.

Kia Picanto details

This is by no means a luxury interior, there are still cheaper plastics left over from the base models but overall it’s a well designed, tasteful place to be, putting bigger, more expensive cars to shame. In GT-Line S spec the standard options list is impressive but after living with the car for a couple of months I wonder if some of those toys are there for the brochure list rather than being genuinely helpful.

The electronically folding mirrors can’t be set to when the car is turned on and off so I rarely remember to use them. And because you have to plug in your phone to use Apple CarPlay the wireless phone charging unit seems a bit redundant as my phone is charging via the cable anyway.

Hall of fame?

So will the Picanto with its T-GDi engine join the 106 GTi in hot hatch folklore and be wistfully talked about in 20 years time? Probably not to the same extent, although I know I’d worry less about the Picanto's legacy and take the Kia’s elegant and gizmo packed interior every time. That’s enough progress for me.


Update 4: Highway to hell

Is our Kia Picanto any good at big car stuff, like motorway trips and transporting four adults?

The Picanto is positioned as a small city car but that hasn’t stopped me from using the car for my usual demanding workload. Straight after delivery the Kia was pressed into service with some long distance commuting.

It’s now completed four weeks of a 110-mile daily journey that included single-track country lanes, A-roads and motorway. As you’d expect the country lanes were great fun but when it came to the motorway, driving wasn’t so cheerful.

The Picanto suffers from a lot of road noise that is amplified at motorway speeds. The decent six speaker sound system gets drowned out travelling over 60mph meaning the volume has to be pumped up to sometimes uncomfortable levels.

The lack of adjustable lumber support on the front seats meant my taller than average frame was left in a hunched position giving me a heavy dose of backache. I bought my own lumber support pillow to help alleviate the problem but the sports seat design meant the pillow didn’t fit well and was soon abandoned.

There were some positives on the long motorway jaunts, the cruise control was intuitive to operate and the controls are well positioned on the steering wheel, it’s certainly novel to be using such a system on a car as small as this. Overall though, I couldn’t wait to get back onto A and B roads, if anything, to give my ears a rest. The occasional long motorway trip is bearable but anything more regular and I’d recommend a larger and more comfortable middle of the range car.

Taxi for Allen

My weekly motoring patterns usually involve a lot of ferrying people around but again I haven’t let the size of the Picanto excuse it from my taxi service duties. One week I was picking up my parents and visiting auntie from a night out the next it was a shopping trip for the whole family.

All four full seats were occupied and all passengers, even the adults praised the amount of rear space available, head and legroom seemed more than adequate. There were less positive comments about the ride quality in the rear. One complained that they 'felt every bump in the road' and another who had gone from sitting in the front to the rear perceived a noticeable stiffening to the ride when in the back.

I even had someone claiming it had damaged their back but then we were travelling along a road a local TV programme had described ‘the worst in Britain’.  My back seemed to cope with this extreme test well but then the ride in the front might be a lot kinder. Because of where the rear seats are positioned passengers are sitting right over the rear axle.

Absolute filth

Now the weather has changed it seems impossible to keep this little Kia clean, especially the rear of the car. Because of the Picanto’s flat-sided rear styling it seems to suck up all the crud from the road.

That covers one of this car’s better features, the rear parking camera. The system usually has excellent picture quality, even in low light, but after only a few days rain all you see when reverse is engaged is a splattering of dirt.

I’ve now trained myself to give the smartphone-like lens a little wipe whenever I open the boot.

It’s got the boot

Despite having a bigger car within the family I still like to take the Kia on the weekly trip to the supermarket. Mainly because the boot is much bigger than you’d imagine and it’s so easy to park. It even met it’s twin on recent expedition.

I can almost get the families shopping in the boot with perhaps the odd bag sitting on the rear seat.

That’s not surprising because the Picanto boasts best in class boot space. It also comes with a handy shelf that sits half way up the boot and stops the bottom row of shopping getting crushed.

Practical performance

So we’ve established the Picanto T-GDi has the aggressive looks and entertaining performance but it’s a reasonably practical car too. Only let down in the areas you’d expect a performance orientated supermini to struggle with. When it comes to moving people and things around it does it with ease and little fuss.


Update 5: Into the city

We plunge into the heart of Leeds to see how the Picanto copes with its natural urban enviroment

In its three months with me the Picanto has experienced a real mix of road environments, blasting across twisty country roads, buzzing down the motorway and a little bit of town driving. What’s missing from this list is what the Picanto is primarily made for, some big city driving. This was finally accomplished when I took my daughter up for a University interview at the sprawling metropolis of Leeds.

Lost in the city

Before we hit town we had a couple of hours on the motorway to get there. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that this is not the Kia’s strongest attribute and we foolishly skipped any comfort breaks to get this leg of the journey over and done with as quickly as possible. This turned out to be a grave error.

Although we’d made it to the outskirts of Leeds in good time we were now ill-prepared for our next challenge. We were using Apple Maps via the car’s Apple CarPlay system to get to the University car park. Poor old Apple Maps got very confused; the car park is built directly above the A58 motorway but Apple Maps kept directing us to the motorway rather than the multi-story.

There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a car park speed by above us at 60mph and the sat-nav say you’ve reached your destination, especially as we managed to do this twice. Tired and hungry we had to stop and try Kia’s built in sat-nav system.

As you’d expect with a native navigation system it’s no way as intuitive as the Silicon Valley software equivalents. The clunky menus and manual entry of any data means it’s always a last resort compared to simply barking orders using voice recognition with the Apple set-up.

Once it was entered there was little fuss and we made the car park still with plenty of time to spare, even though it had added an hour to the journey. We had never been so relieved to find a local café to replenish ourselves and use the facilities.

Diamond in the rough

In that hour of darkness, what had prevented me from losing it and abandoning the car in the fast lane of the M58 was the Picanto’s ability around the contrasting streets of this city. Beating nearly all traffic away from the lights is the Picanto’s neatest party trick. It meant I then had precious added milliseconds to decipher the sat-nav and make the right choice with the native traffic closing in behind me, hands on horns ready.

When I did make a wrong choice and ended up in a dead end street I could call on the Picanto’s black cab-like turning circle to swing the car around with little commotion. This got me thinking to why I sometimes experience a digging-in of the handling on more pleasurable corners.

Maybe I’m dialing in too much steering input, not realising how much turn is available.

Back to the city and the Picanto’s size is a real benefit, it’s a particularly narrow car and can squeeze into all sorts of gaps making progress seem swift. Even our parking space at the now full multi-story was only available because no one else could fit in it.

Mission completed 

On the return leg the Picanto’s extra horsepower meant it felt at home on the city’s rapid ring roads and despite it now being rush hour we were clear of town within 20 minutes. Again the Picanto surprised a fellow car by being first away from the lights.

At the next set the Audi RS3 made no mistake but it did look like it was trying a bit too hard.

The Picanto can be a little notchy going through first and second gears. It’s hard to get a completely smooth transition, but you do forget there’s a turbo boosting that performance and it’s undetectable, no turbo whine, no sudden boost of power mid corner. Overall you can accept a slight lack of smoothness considering the trick the engine is performing.

Clear winner

Back on the motorway I reflected on the Picanto’s intense introduction to city driving. It had all the attributes to make it a complete success. It’s very swift, highly manouverable and small enough to make use of gaps other cars can’t. If I lived in a city full time, I’d want one of these.

 


Update 6: Mid-term report

We’re halfway through our test, how is this little pocket rocket fairing now the newness has worn off?

The ride has never been that forgiving, It’s firm without being harsh and that’s how it’s mostly stayed so far despite the Kia finding some horrendous freshly mined pot holes. Frankly the suspension has taken a battering during it’s time with me. There are some horrifically uneven roads on my regular routes but the Kia has kept it’s box-fresh ride intact so far.

The engine on the other hand has had a moderate change in characteristics. It’s looser and more flexible than when first delivered becoming slightly less highly strung. That means it’s even more of a joy to occasionally rev hard and work through the gears.

Beautiful bodywork tarnished

Our trip up to Leeds that featured in the last update came at a cost. Heading north on the A1M a lorry kicked up a sizeable bit of debris and it bounced off a few cars before it hit us.

Once we got home I wiped away the dirt from the area I discovered a nasty looking scratch and slightly dented bodywork. This doesn’t look like it’ll polish out.

More complaints from the back

I’ve mentioned before about the firmer ride is firmer still in the rear seats but on a recent trip I got a fresh compliant. As the children were trying to get some sleep on a long journey they started to grumble about the firmness of the headrests. I later tested them myself and sympathized with their plight, especially when we cut across some country roads, that must’ve made sleep impossible.

The level of comfort seems to be the Picanto’s weakness. To me the front seats just feel too small for my larger than average frame and the extra road noise created by the 16inch wheels with lower profile tyres make medium to long journeys a little exhausting. This I suppose is not an uncommon problem in a performance orientated car, although considering the high spec of the model, making the seats more adjustable seems like a missed trick.

One-touch control

The boot is class leading in size and I’ve already talked about how practical it is when going to the shops but the other day the Kia had to shift something a little bigger. It was nine foot artificial Christmas tree (yes, I’m the one who buys Christmas decorations in the January sales).

To flatten the rear seats was just one small pull on a lever on top of the seat. The seats were tensioned to fall flat so there was no awkward wrestling seats into place. Similarly the front passenger seat was spring loaded like a three-door car front seat and it plopped into place immediately. Those two small tugs is the least amount of effort I’ve had to employ to flatten car seats. Full marks to Kia there.

The big car spec

This small city car has a big car level of spec and my new winter-time ritual when getting in the car is to deploy the heated seats and steering wheel immediately. I’ve always thought heated steering wheels are a little gimmicky but combined with the heated seats, there is no quicker way to get warm on a cold winter morning. They really are very rapid.

I’m a really big fan of the finish on leather look seats too. They’re very convincing and tastefully upholstered with small red panels and red stitching. They’re even more practical as the smudges left by dark jeans on the red flashes wipe off with a damp cloth. I’ve had to buy expensive leather cleaning products to do the same job with real leather seats.

One feature not tested so far is the wireless charging point. I’m a bit behind the times with my tech but luckily my daughter’s splashed out on a new phone.

The charger panel is conveniently placed just in front of the gear stick so you can almost throw it in place when you get in. Once in place the charging is completely automatic. It now means we can charge two phones at once, one wireless and one wired through the USB slot. Although you still need to plug it in to use Apple CarPlay. The USB option also charges a lot faster too which makes the wireless charger seem a little redundant in most circumstances.


Update 7: Picanto vs Rivals

While our Kia Picanto is off being repaired, let's look at its rivals

I’m saying goodbye to the Picanto for a week or two. Kia are taking the car back to fix the damage inflicted by a piece of motorway debris that I mentioned in the last update. The scratch, on the passenger side door, is down to the metal and has also dented the bodywork so it could need a decent amount of work. I had a similar amount of damage to car last year and that required a brand new door.

At least I’m not going to miss that perky little engine. It’s present in my replacement. A Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi GT-Line although this time the power is cranked up to 118hp from the Picanto’s 99hp. I’ll let you know how I get on with it in the next update.

While the Picanto is off being fixed I thought I’d take a look at some of the T-GDi rivals. There aren’t too many warm or hot city cars on the market. Most city cars are kept to sensible, insurance friendly, vanilla spec. Jump up to the supermini sector and there’s a plethora of performance orientated hot hatches out there but in the world of the city car there’s only three or four. Here’s a few of them.

Abarth 595

The performance version of the Fiat 500 starts at £15,980, £1,260 more that the Picanto T-GDi GT-Line S. That gets you 16-inch alloy wheels and a fairly well-trimmed cabin, with sports seats, metal-finished pedals, a leather gearknob,

TFT instruments and a basic infotainment system with a five-inch touchscreen. Performance wise the engine is considerably more powerful at 143bhp compared to the Picanto's 99hp. With a similar kerb weight to the Kia that translates to an impressive 0-62 time of 7.8sec a full two seconds quicker than our car.

While it boasts impressive performance from it’s four cylinder engine it’s worth bearing in mind that despite a facelift in 2016 the fundamentals of the Fiat 500 are still the same from it’s launch in 2007. It’s starting to feel it’s age and feels less sophisticated than more modern cars. There’s also an unusually high driving position that doesn’t particularly feel that sporty.

VW Up GTI

The headline figures of a £14,315 starting price, 113hp engine and a 0-62 time of 8.8sec certainly makes the Up GTI look an enticing alternative to the Picanto T-GDi GT-Line S. It’s more powerful, faster and cheaper than the Kia.

It has the same engine layout as the Picanto, a 999cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine but squeezes an extra 14 horsepower from its unit. The interior is well-appointed, stylish and has a quality feel. It uses styling cues from VWs rich history of GTI production, a theme that translates to the exterior styling too. It really looks the part.

What is lacking on the Up is the tech inside. There is no satnav or infotainment screen in the Up, not even an optional one. Instead, there’s a built-in holder on top of the dash so you can mount your smart phone and use its functions to direct and guide you. A specially designed app, Maps & More, allows your phone to access data from the car, so you can view driving information, control the radio and media player, as well as use a semi-integrated navigation and map.

Some would argue that your own smartphone is more intuitive and powerful than most car infotainment systems. Generally though the Up is not as lavishly equipped as the Picanto. A cruise and park pack and rear view camera would set you back an additional £540 but beyond a Beats sounds system and Climate control there’s not even the option to match the Picanto’s standard equipment. In that regard the Kia’s £400 price difference seems very good value. Where the Up shines is with its driving dynamics. As you’d expect from a company with so much hot hatch experience the ride and handling is superb.

Alternatives

The hot city car options might be thin on the ground but step up one size to a supermini there’s so much more choice. Yes you get a bigger car, a similar or better performance but the price will climb at least another £2,000. The Up GTI and Picanto T-GDi GT-Line S at least offer performance driving at a bargain price.


Update 8: vs Kia Rio

LF68 TFO is still s back with Kia getting it’s passenger side damage repaired that was caused by a freak bit of debris hitting us during a motorway trip

In it’s place I’ve been driving a Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi GT-Line Eco (snappy name!). It’s Kia’s warm hatch equivalent of the Picanto T-GDi GT-Line S we’ve been running. This has been a fascinating comparison as the super mini comes fitted with the same engine as our Picanto, although in a slightly different state of tune. Peak power delivers 118hp at 6,000 revs where our Picanto musters 99hp at 4,500 revs.

Same engine different story

While there is some very close characteristics, like the same rorty noise, they do behave very differently. The engine in the Picanto delivers it’s burst of power early on where in the Rio the engine feels strongest at the back end of the rev range.

This might explain the slightly back to front fuel figures I’ve been getting from both cars.  Despite being a heavier car by 145kg and with a higher state of tune the Rio has consistently posted a figure of 40.5MPG, which is over 5MPG better that the engine in the Picanto. The addition of a sixth gear must be helping the Rio achieve those figures but it seems the Picanto is paying the price for it’s off the line shove.

Should you upgrade?

I’ve talked before about how the Picanto is pricey for a car of it’s size, softened by the fact it’s got a big car kit list. The more competitively priced Rio in this spec is a much bigger more comfortable proposition offering near identical performance figures on paper, all for an extra £1745. In reality the cars are poles apart.

While the Rio is spacious and has a very comfortable ride when it comes to the corners it feels too soft and the steering feel is a little vague. I’ve complained about the Picanto’s road noise being too loud before but with the Rio it’s to the other extreme. It can be hard to hear the roar of the engine with the extra sound deadening fitted to the Rio.

Overall the Picanto delivers a raw performance car experience and is therefore a more exciting car to drive.

The Rio features just a hint of a performance car feel while offering a cultured and comfortable ride that is beyond a car of this size. It’s worth noting that the extra cost and size of the Rio means it enters the very competitive world of the supermini sector. Where there is a huge choice of sporty and great handling cars at very keen prices.

Counting down the days

I for one will be looking forward to getting the Picanto back, yes the Rio’s been a more comfortable car but I’ve missed the character and energy of the Picanto. Not long now!

Picanto T-GDi GT-Line S: 34.5mpg

Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi GT-Line Eco: 40.5mpg

Latest Kia Picanto running costs
Current mileage
5,695
Real-world average fuel economy
34.4mpg
Official combined fuel economy
55.4mpg
Joined Parkers fleet
9 October 2018