KIA PICANTO 2016 – 2019

2016 Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto is a small South Korean five-door hatchback that, after quite a slow start in Australia has been perked up in subsequent generations.

Consider this: as we pen these words on the Kia Picanto late in the year 2020 all cars are still covered by new car warranty? Pretty amazing, isn’t it? Kia was a relatively slow starter in the sales race in Australia as its sort-of big brother Hyundai was dominating it in many classes.

Kia’s move to that long warranty grabbed a lot of attention from potential buyers and even today few other marques have matched it. Occasionally some other brands have beaten the seven-year offering but that’s only on a temporary basis.

There’s solid European influence in the styling of later models as they are from the increasingly famed designer Peter Schreyer. The bold frontal treatment of Picanto includes the Kia ‘Tiger’ nose design which has become a feature of all Kias.

2017 Kia Picanto

There’s a reasonable amount of interior space in a car of this class. Four adults can be carried if there?s sharing between the two sitting on the right (driver?s) side of the car.

The seats are quite firm but are comfortable enough. At least around town, which is of course the natural habitat of cars of this size on long country trips they are likely to become tiring. There?s pretty good headroom in all seats but, as always we suggest you try the seats as part of your pre-purchase routine if you’re tall in the upper body

Picanto was originally offered with a 1.2-litre petrol engine driving through a four-speed automatic. the old four-speed auto struggled to find the right gear in hilly terrain.

A five-speed manual was introduced with the generation change in 2017 and is more pleasant to drive if you’re the sort of person who enjoys getting the best from their car. The 2017 engine was still the same 1.2-litre unit but had been worked over to give it a more pleasant feeling and a little more performance.

The little Kia has achieved an ANCAP five-star safety rating right from the start. It has six airbags; ABS brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist; stability and traction control; hill-start assist; daytime running lights; outer rear seat IsoFix anchorage points; and a high-mounted rear stop light with emergency-stop signal.

2018 Kia Picanto GT-Line

Clearly the value equation will have a major influence on Kia?s sales target and that, combined with the 5-star ANCAP rating and seven-year warranty.

After a successful toe-in-the-water test with a relatively ageing Picantos, Kia Australia launched the third generation in May 2017. The gen three has a longer wheelbase that gives it extra space in the cabin and a larger boot.

In January 2018 the addition of a special edition, tagged GT-Line to mark Kia’s sponsorship of the Australian Tennis Open. Such was the popularity of the sporty Picanto, the new ?top seed? was made a permanent fixture of the team.

Kia is strongly established in Australia and there are dealers in all major areas, with an increasing number in the country cities and larger towns.

Spare parts and servicing costs are about average for this class. We seldom hear of any holdups when parts not in stock need to be sent to a dealer.

Insurance costs are about average for this car class.


Though the Picanto is a low-cost car it?s smart to spend money on a professional inspection.

Check the body for signs of scars caused by doors being opened against it in carparks.

Poorly repaired crash damage will show as paint which doesn?t match from panel to panel; a ripply finish in a panel; or tiny specks of paint on non-painted parts.

Look at the wheels for signs of them hitting kerbs, the front left is one that suffers most.

Run your hand over the width of the tyres in both directions. Any unevenness may indicate suspension damage. Or it could be that the Picanto has been cornered hard by would be Lewis Hamiltons.

Look at the interior and boot for signs of general wear and tear. The back seat is often the first to suffer if kids have knocked it about.

The engine should start within a second or so, even when it?s cold. Within another few seconds it should settle into a steady idle.

A manual gearbox should be moderately light in its action and not crunch on any of the downchanges, no matter how fast they are made. The third-to-second gearchange is usually the first to give trouble.


Budget on spending from $6000 to $10,000 for a 2016 Kia Picanto Si; $8000 to $12,000 for a 2017 GT-Line or a 2018 S; $9000 to $13,000 for a 2018 GT or a 2019 GT-Line; and $ 10,000 to $15,000 for a 2019 GT.


Start your search for the best car at least a couple of weeks before you actually plan to buy. That gives you a good feel for prices and popularity.

RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at:

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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