The final days of 2017 were rapidly receding, and the moment had finally come to hand back the keys to my Kia Picanto long termer. Nestling myself into the cabin for one final farewell, I realised just how much I’d miss my zesty buddy.
In the lead-up to our paths diverging, I’d been driving the Kia Picanto like a teenager let loose on his parent’s car for the first time. At every traffic light grand prix, I rowed my way hastily through the gears. The seven-point-whatever per 100km fuel consumption is evidence of this. The Kia Picanto will happily oblige an overly enthusiastic driver, yet at the same time, you can plop an in-law in the passenger seat and glide around town smoothly and unobtrusively, without becoming a chicane for other traffic.
A number of trips this month had three (and sometimes four) people piling into the Picanto. Being a micro hatch, rear occupants were never going to be bragging about legroom, but you don’t have to fold like a piece of human origami to ride in the back. Headroom is ample, even for adults, and the only real complaint goes to road noise, yet the Picanto remains one of the best in class for NVH.
It would be remiss of me to not mention Kia’s cherry-on-top, seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. No other manufacturer will match this year round, and the Korean brand topped the US-centric J.D Power initial quality study last year. Some strong negotiating skills could fetch you a low $14K drive-away price. And Kia’s capped-price servicing also offers great value, with the first stop-off at a dealer due at one year or 15,000km, costing $240. Over the course of seven years of ownership, or 105,000km, servicing the Picanto comes in at an average of $364 every 12 months.
Reflecting on our six months together, the Picanto didn’t miss a beat. It was as capable and fun during a backroad blast with a pair of Porsches as it was folding the rear seats and hauling furniture. For an inner-city dweller, you couldn’t ask for much more from a car, especially one this affordable.
Just before my Korean friend departed the Wheels garage, it had one final photoshoot, alongside Inwood’s shiny new hybrid Lexus. For the same price as a single LC coupe, you could have a veritable fleet of Picantos. What would be more fun? One Japanese grand tourer, or 10 Picantos and enough spare change left over to hire a track for an impromptu one-make race series with your mates? It’ll never happen, but I know which option I’d prefer.
While I wait to see what’ll fill the Picanto shaped hole in my heart, I’ll console myself with the knowledge Kia’s local arm is in the process of bringing the turbo GT variant to Australia. A boosted 1.0-litre three-pot in a diminutive hatch with locally tuned suspension is my kind of spicy Kimchi.
Save yourself the ink (and money)
While the options list is mercifully brief for the Picanto, there are no boxes I’d recommend ticking. Fitting 14-inch alloys is a $1201 option, with 16-inch rims setting you back $1439 if the standard-fit steelies offend your modern sense of style. Front corner parking sensors are a $616 addition for anyone having trouble parking, though everything else I’d place in the ‘naff interior gubbins’ bracket. If it was my choice, I’d opt for the standard Clear White paint and save another $520.
Caution: fur baby on board
I don’t like babies, and I’m not a big fan of most kids, so the Picanto went without a test from Generation Fidget Spinner. Dogs, on the other hand, are more my cup of tea, so after nicking a friend’s black Labrador, the Picanto and I had a weekend of parks, fetch, and barking. The parcel shelf is easily removable, and the boot space is roomy enough for a decent-sized dog to lie down. If you want to add a four-legged mate to your family instead of a miniature human, the Picanto will fare just fine.