Kia Picanto
(2012 - current)

  • Great fun to drive, especially in GT guise
  • Excellent levels of equipment and safety tech
  • Kia’s superb 7-Year warranty, capped priced servicing and road-side assist
  • Proving to show excellent reliability and longevity
  • Naturally aspirated with automatic transmission not all that inspiring
  • 4-star ANCAP rating may put some off
  • X-Line has near zero off-roading credentials
Overview

Cheap and cheerful. Few motoring nameplates fit the bill quite as neatly as the Kia Picanto.

The Korean marque’s smallest and cheapest model arrived in Oz in third-generation guise in 2017.

At under four metres in length, the diminutive five-door hatch brought cute Pokemon looks, hub caps and all, to the city car segment. And with a little over a 5.0L/100km combined consumption form its naturally aspirated 1.2-litre (though technically 1.25L) four-cylinder it proved suitably thrifty as the urban runabout it clearly positioned itself as.

With its practical packaging, handy 200-litre boot, essentials-ticking features and long seven-year warranty, the Picanto struck chords as both as seductive first-car proposition and as a handy third-car grocery-getter and went on to become the biggest selling city car in Australia…by a country kilometre.

The Picanto’s first-car credentials were boosted over the second-ten Picanto by no small measure in third-gen JA guise by the introduction of standard all-speed AEB and forward collision warning, with ANCAP awarding the range a decent four-star safety rating in its launch year.

It was now more modern, too. The outgoing version offered Bluetooth and USB power as tech highlights, but for gen-three even the penny-pinching ($14,190) entry S manual version fit a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto mirroring and a reversing camera. Auto versions commanded an extra $1500. Bootspace, too, had grown to 255 litres.

Things got more cheerful, if not quite as cheap, further upstream. In 2018, an up-spec GT-Line version ($15,690-$17,290) ) brought a sporty makeover to the line-up, if without as much as a tickle under the bonnet, and an ‘upmarket’ X-Line version ($16,190-$17,990) arrived in 2019. Both versions were offered as manuals and autos. Tennis fans were offered an AO Edition (Australian Open), with mostly cosmetic fettling, between 2017 and 2019.

The top dog, though, is the GT. A turbocharged 1.0-litre three-pot, good for 74kW/172Nm, manual-only and sport-tuned suspension, the GT arrived in 2019 as the most fun you peel off the showroom floor for its $18k ask.

For such a small package there’s a lot to like. The N/A four-pot is struggler on the open road, but its tuned-for-Oz suspension packages are fit and fun, appointments are thoroughly modern for the sort of money Picanto commands on the used market, and they’re all still covered by Kia’s long factory warranty.

What do you look for and what’s to avoid? Read on…

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What goes wrong
  • Sporadic reports regarding the keyless entry not working and the electric mirrors failing to adjust, however these complaints are few and far between.
  • A few reports that the Apple CarPlay can be quite glitchy and phone connectivity in general can be faulty.
  • Some reports that the handbrake on some examples requires a serious pull to stop the car rolling away.
  • Minor and rare reports of window motors making loud/harsh noises when closing and that the leather can be prone to peeling on the steering wheel.
  • Occasional reports of coil pack issues.
  • It should be noted that these faults were generally repaired under warranty and again, we wouldn’t categorise the issues as “common” problems at all.
Model range, pricing & features

S

  • Price when new: $14,190 - $17,290
  • Price used: $11,000 - $19,000

The S is the entry level model of the Picanto range and is available with a 1.25-litre 4-cylinder engine mated to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic driven through the front wheels.

Outside, the S is simply styled, with 14-inch alloy wheels and body-coloured bumpers, door handles and exterior side mirrors, as well as featuring a rear spoiler.

Inside, the S has a variety of comfort features as standard such as cloth seating, tilt adjustable steering wheel with cruise control and audio controls, trip computer, air conditioning electric windows and heated mirrors, 4-speaker sound system with radio, CD player, MP3 compatibility, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, AUX/USB input and bluetooth connectivity.

Safety-wise, the Picanto S benefited from a 4-star ANCAP safety rating, conducted in 2017 – and features 6 airbags, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, electronic stability program, hill-start assist control and vehicle stability management.

In MY19, Autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning was made standard across the entire Picanto range, and with the MY20 revisions – the range received upgrades to the multi-funtional display in the gauge cluster (increasing from 2.6-inches to 4.2-inches), larger infotainment system (7 to 8-inch LCD touchscreen) and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Standard Features Include:

14-inch steel wheels
Body-coloured bumpers
Body-coloured door handles
Body-coloured exterior side mirrors
Rear spoiler
ANCAP 4-star rating (tested 2017)
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Electronic stability control (ESC)
Traction control
Vehicle stability management (VSM)
Hill-start assist control (HAC)
Emergency stop signal (ESS)
6 airbags: drive and front passenger, front side and curtain airbags
Front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters
Seatbelt reminders – all seats
2x ISOFIX restraints
Rear parking sensors
Rear-view camera with parking guidelines
Dusk sensing automatic headlights
Daytime running lights (DRL) – Halogen
Rear fog light
Remote central locking with boot release
Folding key
Alarm
Manual air-conditioning
Electric windows – front and rear with driver’s auto up/down
Electric side mirrors – heated
Intermittent/2-speed front wiper and washer
Rear wiper and washer
2.6-inch multi-functional display in gauge cluster
Trip computer
Steering wheel – tilt adjustable only
Multi-functional steering wheel – with cruise control and audio controls
Cruise control
Cloth seat trim
Driver’s seat adjustment: 6-way (forward/back, height and backrest)
Adjustable headrests (all seats)
4-speaker audio system
7-inch colour LCD infotainment system
AM/FM radio
MP3 compatible
AUX/USB input
Bluetooth connectivity (phone connectivity and media streaming)
Wired Apple CarPlay
Wired Android Auto
12V power outlet (front)
1x USB charging port
2x cup holders (front)
2x bottle holders (front doors)
60:40 split fold rear seats
Luggage net hooks

MY19 update:
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
Forward collision warning

MY20 update:
4.2-inch multi-functional display in gague cluster
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
8-inch colour LCD infotainment system

X-Line

  • Price when new: $16,190 - $17,990
  • Price used: $15,000 - $21,000

Introduced at the end of 2018, the Picanto X-Line coincided with the launch of the 2019 Australian Open, and featured GT-Line and crossover styled features such as 15mm raised suspension, contrasting plastic cladding and unique 16-inch alloy wheels.

The X-Line became a permanent model with the success of the AO edition from the 2019 Australian Open and remained on the model lineup until the MY21 update.

In addition to the S:

16-inch alloy wheels
15mm raised suspension
Contrasting plastic cladding
LED daytime running lights
Premium look seats with red accents
Leather look steering wheel
Leather look gear knob
Six-speaker sound system
Electric side mirrors – folding and heated
Sliding floor console storage box with lid

MY19 update:
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
Forward collision warning

MY20 update:
4.2-inch multi-functional display in gague cluster
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
8-inch colour LCD infotainment system

GT-Line

  • Price when new: $15,690 - $18,740
  • Price used: $14,000 - $23,000

The GT-Line debuted on the model range in 2018, and became the top of the range model featuring a variety of additional sport styling features inside and out such as 16-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, alloy sport pedals, leather-look steering wheel and gear knob.

In addition to the S:

16-inch alloy wheels
GT-Line exterior package – body kit, contrasting body accents and twin exhaust tips
LED daytime running lights
Alloy sports pedals
Premium look seats with red accents
Leather look steering wheel
Leather look gear knob
Six-speaker sound system
Electric side mirrors – folding and heated
Sliding floor console storage box with lid

MY19 update:
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
Forward collision warning

MY20 update:
4.2-inch multi-functional display in gague cluster
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
8-inch colour LCD infotainment system

AO Edition

  • Price when new: $16,190 - $17,790
  • Price used: $14,500 - $19,000

In initially released in June 2017 and then released every year after is the special Australian Open “AO” edition of the Picanto, which features AO special edition badging and GT-Line features. Additionally, “AO” edition buyers would receive a special AO package with a Babolat racquet, a backpack and a tube of Wilson tennis balls.

From MY19, the AO edition also adopted the stylings of the X-Line model, which include a 15mm raised suspension, unique 16-inch alloy wheels and contrasting plastic cladding.

The AO edition when released each year has typically been limited to 150 examples.

In addition to the GT-Line:

special AO package with a Babolat racquet, a backpack and a tube of Wilson tennis balls.
AO special edition badging

MY19 update:
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
Forward collision warning
15mm raised suspension
Contrasting plastic cladding

MY20 update:
4.2-inch multi-functional display in gague cluster
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
8-inch colour LCD infotainment system

GT

  • Price when new: $17,990 - $19,990
  • Price used: $14,000 - $25,000

The GT model was introduced as part of MY19 updates to the range. GT offers the same features to the GT-Line plus a sports tuned suspension and steering setup and the only model to come standard with the 1.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, mated exclusively to a 5-speed manual (no automatic option).

In addition to the GT-Line:

Sports tuned suspension and steering
GT exterior package – body kit, contrasting body accents and twin exhaust tips

MY20 update:
4.2-inch multi-functional display in gague cluster
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
8-inch colour LCD infotainment system

Should you buy it?

If you require a little city car that is loads of fun to drive, offers near bulletproof reliability and has its own quirky personality, absolutely.

The Picanto is our pick for cars in this segment. Yes a Fiat 500 might win for aesthetics and image but the Kia blows it out of the water in every other sense.

The Picanto, especially in GT Line or GT nails it. It provides such a great balance of everything that a car in this category needs to deliver and even when used and with many kilometres on it, is genuinely bloody awesome.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

7 year/unlimited kilometre warranty

Servicing:

12 months/15,000km

Tech specs

Body style:

5-door hatchback

Engines:

1.25-litre 4 cylinder petrol (S, GT-Line, X-Line, AO Edition)
1-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol (GT)

Power:

62kW (1.25-litre 4 cylinder petrol
74kW (1-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol)

Torque:

122Nm (1.25-litre 4 cylinder petrol)
172Nm (1-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol)

Transmission & drivetrains:

5-speed manual, front-wheel drive (S, GT-Line, X-Line, AO Edition, GT)
4-speed automatic, front-wheel drive (S, GT-Line, X-Line, AO Edition)

Fuel Consumption:

4.8 – 5.8L/100km (depending on variant)

Length:

3,595 – 3,670mm

Width:

1,595mm

Height:

1,485 – 1,500mm

Kerb Weight:

976 – 1012kg (depending on variant)

Disclaimer

Information correct as of January 21, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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