Kia Picanto X-Line Australian Open Edition quick review

Crossover styling and plenty of equipment add even more appeal to Kia’s smallest hatchback

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What is it?

The Picanto is Kia’s established entry-level model, and one of the cheapest vehicles on the market with a starting price of $14,190 for the base Picanto S manual. The Kia Picanto X-Line Australian Open Edition we have here takes the basic Kia Picanto package, sticks on some crossover-style body cladding, jacks up the suspension and loads it with heaps of equipment.

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How much is the Kia Picanto X-Line?

For the manual-equipped Picanto X-Line we’re testing here, the drive-away price comes in at $17,510 - $16,990 for the car itself, $520 for the attractive ‘Alice Blue’ paintwork that carries a premium colour charge. Want an automatic? Budget $17,990 (inclusive of on-road costs) for the optional four-speed auto.

Who is it for?

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With sub-$20K pricing, a five-door body style and tiny external dimensions, the Picanto X-Line is perfect for those looking for a cheap and practical city car – with a little more visual cool-factor than the average compact hatchback.

Is the Kia Picanto X-Line easy to live with?

Despite its diminutive size, the cabin remains quite practical and able to transport two adults with zero problems, or even four full-growns without too much trouble. Cabin plastics are, of course, indicative of its price, but the design is clean and functional with plenty of open-topped storage for your odds and ends along the centre console.

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The ‘leather’ upholstery is a nice touch at this price point, but it feels very synthetic and carries an odour to match – it's one example where high-quality cloth seats would be a better choice.

As for the seats themselves, they feel quite flat and aren't built for long-distance comfort, but they are easy to get in and out of. The absence of reach adjustment to the steering wheel is a bigger complaint.

The boot capacity, at 255 litres, is pretty good for such a compact car, and the rear seats can fold down to accommodate bigger cargo.

But you do at least get a huge amount of standard equipment. A high-mounted 8.0-inch screen provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring capabilities (which in turn bring satellite navigation and audio streaming apps), and there are dusk-sensing headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, electric folding wing mirrors, alloy pedals, air conditioning, Bluetooth, six-speaker stereo, a USB input and cruise control.

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Holden SparkSuzuki Celerio

Safety-wise, the Picanto only scores four stars out of a possible five from ANCAP. It offers AEB, rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, two ISOFIX baby seat mounts and curtain airbags.

How well does the Kia Picanto X-Line drive?

If you live in a big city, very well indeed. The Picanto X-Line measures just under 3.7 metres long and around 1.6 metres wide, so it’ll slip into tight carparks and weave through peak-hour traffic with ease.  

What it won’t do is move terribly quickly. It might weigh less than a tonne, but with just 62kW of power from its 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol four-cylinder the Picanto X-Line is admittedly a bit of a slug.

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There’s some fun in rowing through the five-speed manual, but with the clutch pedal offering a fairly vague friction point it’s a good thing the Picanto features hill-start assist – getting going on a steep hill would be somewhat tricky otherwise.

It’s more suited to inner-urban driving than big highway stints, but high-speed cruising doesn’t necessarily faze it. It loses speed quickly once a hill presents itself, though, as the engine can’t supply enough oomph to deal with uphill inclines. Downshifting a gear (often two gears) is frequently necessary in such circumstances, even with just one person on board.

Also, don’t be fooled by that tough-looking body cladding. The Picanto X-Line is no offroader, and the 15mm increase in ride height is more for show than for adding any real dirt trail capability.

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The upside is fuel economy. Its light weight and low power confer exceptional efficiency to the Picanto X-Line, and the claimed average fuel consumption of 5.0 L/100km is realistic – we achieved 5.7 L/100km in mostly urban driving.

Verdict:

Measured against other comparably-priced light car rivals like the Mazda2, Honda Jazz or Suzuki Swift, the Picanto X-Line trails in terms of space, cabin quality and ease of driving. But if you’re looking for a compact with rough-and-tumble styling and generous servings of equipment, there’s really only one other alternative to the Kia within that mid-to-high-teens price bracket: the Suzuki Ignis.

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Compared to the Suzuki, the Picanto X-Line handles better, feels more spacious in the back seat, and totes an ultra-attractive seven-year warranty versus the Ignis’ five years.

If your needs are basic but you want a cheap hatch with more visual attitude than ‘the usual choices’ (or indeed, the regular Kia Picanto), the Picanto X-Line is well worth a look.

 

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