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2018 Kia Picanto GT-Line quick review

By Cameron Kirby, 15 Jul 2018 Car Reviews

2018 Kia Picanto GT-Line quick review

We put Kia’s new flagship Picanto to the test

TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR

The Picanto GT-Line is the new flagship of the range, sitting above the only other variant – the S trim -  thanks to some cosmetic additions, uprated suspension and premium pricing.

Beneath the bonnet, the Picanto GT-Line is largely identical to its S-badged sibling, so we took the opportunity to get behind the wheel to see if the new visual additions and driver focus were worth the price of admission.

Read next: 2018 Kia Picanto Range Review

STRENGTHS

  • Interior. Don’t let the diminutive exterior dimensions fool you. The Picanto has a spacious interior for the class, with plenty of head and shoulder room for front passengers, while actual person-sized rear occupants can sit in comfort.

  • Handling. Kia has revised the suspension calibration for the GT-Line, sharpening up its handling, and giving it a sportier feel. The steering is weighted variably depending on the speed, giving it composure on highways, and ease of manoeuvrability at low speeds.
  • Generous equipment. For the sub-$20K price tag, the Picanto GT-Line offers plenty of kit. Reversing camera, cruise control, smartphone mirroring, and automatic emergency braking are all standard.
  • Price. The GT-Line has a sticker price of $17,290, (our test car’s vibrant red paint finish was a $520 option). That’s just $1600 more than the standard automatic Picanto S, which costs $15,690. For the price premium you receive a funky new bodykit, 16-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust tips, projector headlights with LED daytime-running lights, LED tail-lights, ‘premium’ leather-look/cloth seats with red accents, and alloy sports pedals. If you thought the regular Picanto lacked visual spice, the GT-Line could just be the affordable option you were looking for.

Read next: 2017 Kia Picanto S long-term review, part four

WEAKNESSES

  • Gearbox. Roughly 80 percent of Picanto owners are likely to choose the four-speed automatic over the five-speed manual gearbox. However, the GT-Line is limited to just the auto. Unfortunately, the self-shifting gearbox is the lesser of the two options, and while it is masks its lack of ratios with a well-sorted calibration, it is outclassed by auto options in similarly-priced rivals.
  • Highway noise. Tyre roar can become rather intrusive in the GT-Line at regular Australian highway speeds. This is not helped by the lower-profile rubber on the 16-inch alloy wheels.
  • Ride. Kia has stiffened up the locally-tuned suspension in the GT-Line to give it a more dynamic feel. However, the new ride doesn’t deliver quite the same polish as the cheaper S model. While the sportier tune would be rewarding on smooth country roads, Picantos tend to spend most of their time in bumpy urban environments where the firmer ride quality might well grate after a while.
  • Performance. While you don’t buy a car like this for its scorching pace off the mark, the GT-Line has exactly the same 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine as the standard S variant which can make it feel a bit of a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?

Suzuki Ignis, Holden Spark, Suzuki Celerio.