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2022 Kia Picanto

It might look like a toaster with wheels – but maybe you shouldn’t write it off just yet.

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As I was driving around in the new 2022 Kia Picanto, I was trying to think about who this car makes sense for in 2022. 

Was it a good option for P-platers? Is this a vehicle best suited to city dwellers or for people living in the suburbs? Is it just a vehicle for those on a budget?

As I considered these options, a Volkswagen owner approached me. 

They're currently driving a Golf R and, to my surprise, had a number of questions about the Picanto. They were looking at switching.

He only travels to the office once or twice a week, maximum, and the office is just 5 minutes from where he lives. So for lack of a better way of putting it, the Golf R was going to waste. He didn't need it and wanted a cheap, reliable car for this 10-minute round trip.

His partner also has a mid-size SUV that they could use for longer trips.

Perhaps then, the Kia Picanto S, priced at a drive-away cost of $17,990, is the perfect car for the remote worker?

What's it like inside?

As you would expect, the Picanto is made to meet a price, but you do get some creature comforts that make the cabin a comfortable place to be.

Given its slight dimensions, you would be forgiven for thinking that maybe there had been a little compromise when it comes to comfort, but that isn't true (unless you draw the short straw and need to sit in the middle of the second row).

Seating is comfortable and gives a good amount of support while offering up a decent driving position. Looking forward from here, a 4.2-inch digital display has been installed, which sits in between 2 analogue gauges, making it easy to access the trip and various other bits of information.

Front and centre on the dash is an 8-inch touchscreen, running Kia's native software. A big plus for the little Picanto S is that it comes loaded with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which we found ourselves making use of.

Below the screen and air conditioning controls are 2 cup holders that can be slid back to make way for other items if they aren't in use. There is a decent amount of door storage too, but you may struggle to fit anything larger than a 1-litre bottle. On the plus side, you will be able to store other items at the same time.

A manual handbrake and low-lying transmission help to make the most of the space in the cabin.

In the back, you're going to be hard pressed to fit tall humans in terms of legroom, but you should be able to fit a baby capsule just fine. If you did manage to fit people in the back, shoulder room would limit it to 2, despite 3 belts being present back there. Only 1 of them would be able to have a drink though, with a single cup holder in the back.

All-in-all, while there isn't all that much to talk about interior wise, Kia has done a good job of making the cabin feel more spacious than it looks from the outside.

2022 Kia Picanto S boot

Under the hatch of the Picanto is 255 litres of luggage space and with the rear seats folded down, this expands to 1,010 litres. The second row folds easily thanks to a one-touch lever and will collapse in a 60:40 fashion.

These numbers are comparable with competitors. It is slightly less than the Toyota Yaris, which can store 270L, but the Picanto is capable of storing more than a Mitsubishi Mirage, which offers 235 litres.

A space-saving spare wheel is present under the boot floor.

What's it like to drive?

The 2022 Kia Picanto is powered by a 1.25-litre petrol engine producing 62kW of power and 122Nm of torque.

Our Picanto S review vehicle was fitted with a 5-speed manual transmission that was quite friendly with the clutch well weighted, making the combination enjoyable to engage with. 

In my opinion, this is the option to go for instead of the 4-speed automatic alternative.

As you would expect, it isn't going to set any land-speed records, but the manual transmission does make it easier to keep up with the flow of traffic than the 4-speed automatic version. It is fairly frugal on fuel too. After driving it for a while, I thought there could have been something wrong with the fuel gauge as it didn't seem to move despite having a tiny 35-litre fuel tank. 

The official numbers are 5 litres per 100km on a combined cycle.

When it comes to how the Picanto S rides, you will find that it can be a little on the stiff side around town, but it is fairly well sorted when it comes to any sharp imperfections. This stiffness does help to give you more confidence at speed, making the Picanto feel sharp and responsive – especially with the manual transmission. This is a testament to the local tuning conducted by Kia's engineers.

It could do with a bit more work in the sound-deadening department, but this only really becomes an issue when you're on a free-flowing motorway. When you're crawling along in peak-hour traffic or just cruising around town, it isn't an issue.

Steering is light and the big windscreen coupled with the Picanto's seating position means there is good visibility all around. 

Not that parking the Picanto is a difficult job given its dimensions and visibility, but reversing cameras are there to help, meaning this little hatch is a cinch to park in any situation or layout.

An added bonus here is that it will fit into the "small vehicle" parking spaces, which are generally located closer to the shops. This means less walking, which is something I can get on board with.

Kia Picanto S safety

The Kia Picanto scored a 4-star safety rating when it was tested in 2014. Meaning is scored lower than the Toyota Yaris and the MG 3 remains untested. The most recent testing for the MG 3 was conducted in 2014 where it scored 3 stars.

In terms of driving aids, the Picanto misses some active safety features that the updated model received in other countries.

So what does the Picanto have?

You get dual front, side and curtain airbags for a total of 6 around the cabin. Behind the scenes, it comes with forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking.

Kia Picanto S ownership

Service intervals:

1 year or 15,000km $280.00

2 years or 30,000km $461.00

3 years or 45,000km $335.00

4 years or 60,000km $504.00

5 years or 75,000km $315.00

6 years or 90,000km $577.00

7 years or 105,000km $334.00

Total: $2,806.00

The verdict

Based on the above, I think that the Kia Picanto is a viable option as we enter this "new normal" of people moving to remote work. It seems like people may agree with me too – sales of the Picanto are up 71% this year so far.

If you're after a budget, no-frills run around, you can't beat the Picanto. If you are after something a bit more equipped, you have the Toyota Yaris as an option, although you should expect to pay at least 7 grand more.

If you enjoy driving more than the average person, the Picanto GT offers up go-kart vibes on a budget too.

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