2017 Kia Picanto S long-term review, part three

By Cameron Kirby, 25 Nov 2017 Car Reviews

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2017 Kia Picanto S long-term review, part three

Cameron is forced to dig deeper after struggling to find fault with the plucky Picanto

It was an innocent query from a co-worker: “So, how’s life with the Picanto going as a long termer?”

Yet it was a question that caused a bit of soul searching for myself and my little Korean companion. “Brilliant!” was my reply. And I was serious.

For the past three months I’ve seriously enjoyed my time with the Kia Picanto. But that wasn’t a satisfactory answer for old mate.

“Come on! Surely there is something you don’t like about it so far? It can’t be that good.”

To my own surprise I didn’t really have an answer for him. But it was cause for pause.

Had I been having so much fun working the three pedals and carving up traffic that I’d reached the halfway point of my time with the Picanto, and not come up with a serious gripe? No car is that good. There must be something that irked me. So for the next week there was some serious reflection.

What resulted was the following list of ‘problems’ I’ve come across with the Kia. The arm rest is hard plastic, making it an uncomfortable place to, well, rest your arm and elbow. Yes, I know – proper driving technique and all that. But perching an elbow on the arm rest during a long drive is acceptable in my books.

Even after three months I haven’t memorised the difference between the dial for volume, and the radio tuner. Both are marked with small stickers, but with eyes forward they look identical. I’ve inadvertently ended up scanning the FM waves when I intended on pumping the volume on a tune.

Weirdly, heavy freeway use this month didn’t see a discernible drop in fuel consumption despite Kia’s 4.2L/100km extra urban claim. In fifth gear, at 110km/h the 1.2-litre four-cylinder sits at over 3000rpm and offers around 400km per 29-litre tank.

The climate control is probably the biggest mark against the Picanto’s name. Firstly, the heater takes a painfully long time to start functioning, which forces me to rug up with several layers for the first half of my commute home on cold Melbourne winter nights. Secondly, temperature control is a guessing game. Put the dial into the blue, and you could still have warm air being pushed out. Dial in the red? Cold air. You almost get the feeling the Picanto is taking your temperature suggestions on board, but will ultimately do as it pleases.

Admittedly these are relatively minor shortcomings with the little hatch, and there has been nothing that really knocks the shine off its impressive capabilities.

Yep, when you put all its great and not so good qualities in the context of the Picanto’s price and competitor set, nit-picking is not easy.

Lights, camera … Picanto?

The Picanto isn’t far off having its own trailer, after making a television debut recently. The Picanto claimed outright honours in Wheels Magazine's very own Gold Star Cars award (October issue) which earned it a starring appearance on breakfast television (presented by Editor Inwood).

Its low depreciation, sub-$15k entry price, and the fact the manual gearbox provides brilliant saving in both fuel efficiency and overall cost are what clinched the Picanto’s prize. What next? A cameo on Dancing with the Stars?