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.
Read next: 2018 Kia Picanto Range Review
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.