C. 2020 Kia Picanto
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.
However, Kia’s introduction of a seven-year warranty got 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 only on a temporary basis.
There’s solid European influence in the styling of later models as they are from famed
designer Peter Schreyer. The bold frontal treatment of Picanto includes the Kia ‘Tiger’
nose design which has become a feature of all Kias.
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 side of the car. That’s
because the driver obviously has first choice as to how much legroom they need.
The seats are quite firm but are comfortable enough. At least around town but on long
country trips they are likely to become tiring. There is pretty good headroom in all seats but
we suggest you try the seats as part of your pre-purchase routine if you’re tall.
Kia Picanto was originally offered with a 1.2-litre petrol engine driving through a four-speed
automatic. It sometimes struggled to find the correct gear in hilly terrain, chaining up and
down too often.
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 as added performance.
The little Picanto 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.
The value for money combined with the five-star ANCAP rating and seven-year warranty
have seen the Picanto sales strong.
Kia Australia launched the third generation of the Picanto in May 2017, it 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 Kia 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.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Though the Picanto is a low-cost car it’s smart to spend money on a professional
Look at the interior and boot for signs of general wear and tear. The back seat may have
suffered 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.
Picanto’s 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 downchange in the manual is usually the first to wear to the extent
that a major repair is needed. That’s not going to be cheap…
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
Budget on spending from $7000 to $11,000 for a 2017 Kia Picanto S; $8000 to $13,000 for
a 2019 GT-Line; $9000 to $14,000 for a 2018 GT Turbo; $10,000 to $15,000 for a 2019 X-
Line or a 2020 GT-Line; $11,000 to $16,000 for a 2021 S; and $13,000 to $18,000 for a
2021 GT Turbo.
CAR BUYING TIP
Low-cost cars may be bought by people who haven’t a lot of money to spare – and who
don’t have them serviced at the correct intervals.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: