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Small wonder - it's a Kia

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: April 19, 2014


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HERE’S how we used to understand small car categorisation and the difference between Fiesta-sized superminis and their smaller, cheaper citycar counterparts.

You paid extra for a supermini because it was slightly bigger, because it was better finished and more stylish and because it had more refined engines that made possible longer journeys.

So where does that kind of thinking leave us with a product like this, the second generation Kia Picanto?

It competes with the kinds of models we'd see as citycars, yet like many of them now, it boasts the kind of interior space a supposedly bigger Fiesta or a Corsa had until quite recently.

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It's very nicely built and acceptably stylish.

And yes, it's quite at home attempting longer journeys. Here is the citycar, all grown-up.

Where that leaves today's supermini sector is something we don't have to worry about here.

Suffice it to say that most of what you'd pay up to £15,000 or more for in that class of car is delivered by this Kia.

Other urban runabouts that have previously advanced that argument have either been expensive and/or three-door only, or have felt too cheap and noisy to really justify themselves as only-car transport.

One characteristic that Kia is keen for this car to have is a perky feel. It does.

Under the bonnet, buyers choose between a 69bhp entry-level 1.0-litre engine or a 1.25-litre 84bhp unit.

It's a petrol-only range of course, as you'd expect from a citycar.

The 1.0-litre manages 0-62mph in 13.9s en route to 95mph, while the 1.25-litre variant improves that to 11s and 106mph.

The good news for those looking for a grin behind the wheel is that much of the old Picanto's suspension architecture has been carried over, albeit evolved subtly.

The front suspension has been tuned for better straight line stability and Kia reckons it has not only improved the ride of the MK2 model with softer springs but made the handling a little keener with a much stiffer rear axle that helps quell understeer.

The Picanto's all-disc braking system, which is standard on all models fitted with Electronic Stability Control, is backed up with standard ABS anti-lock, electronic brake force distribution and emergency 'brake assist' systems.

Stopping distances from 62mph are among the class best at 41.0 metres.

Prices start at around £8,000, with a £600 premium if you want air conditioning.

You'll need a budget of just under £12,000 if you want the pokier 1.25-litre variant though.

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