Picanto’s inner GT waits to break free

Chris Picanto GT Line 4

What is it?

It’s small, well packaged — cute, even. It may be the four-wheeled equivalent of Kylie. And yes, that includes annoying noises.

The 2018 Kia Picanto has been reduced in size to a two-model range, the S and GT-Line. Both have the same tiny 1.25-litre four and both have a four-speed auto, although the S also gets a six-speed manual.

It’s a boxy body shape with the GT-Line getting some extra bits. Don’t know if Kylie has those?

What she definitely doesn’t have is 62kW and 122Nm and fuel economy of 5.8L/100km from a 37L tank. I finished on 6.6L/100km after a mainly urban drive.

Chris Picanto GT Line 5

What’s it cost?

The GT-Line is $17,290. Add $520 for premium paint then top that off with government charges.

That’s a decent starting point for a small city car. Then there’s the fixed price servicing every year or 15,000km. Oven seven years it’s $2552. At the time of writing, however, Kia has a driveaway promotion of just $17,490.

It’s a simple colour palette for the GT-Line: Clear White, Aurura Black, Signal Red, and Titanium Silver. It’s complemented by splashes of red up front around the air vents, strips down the side of the doors, and inside on the front seats and door trim.

The GT-Line rolls on 16-inch alloys, up from standard 14s. Rubber is from Nexen at 195/45.  The alloys are of a stylish  eight spoke design and on the Titanium Silver GT-Line look superb. At the rear are lovely neon look tail lights and twin exhaust.

Inside it’s black on black apart from the strips on the seats and inserts in the doors. It’s a simple and elegant layout, with a 7.0-inch touch-screen mounted on the dash a la Audi. The left and right air-vents are a nod to history, with a strong resemblance to Cadillac tail lights.

The driver gets simplicity as well, with two dials and a monochrome display screen. This offers trip meter, fuel consumption and distance to empty. It’s uncomplicated and effective.

Seating is fine two-up. Pack in anyone else on the rear pews and suddenly the front seats need to be racheted forward. But there’s great all-round vision to take their minds off being a little more than cramped.

The touchscreen doesn’t provide satnav, that’s left to connecting a smartphone and using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. There’s no DAB either, that again is left to a smartphone. At least you can still hear Kylie via the AM/FM/Bluetooth enabled sound system.

It’s a standard key start. That’s an odd choice given the propensity of push start systems.

The boot offers 255 litres that expands to 1010 litres that’s fine for a weekly shop. Underneath is a space saver spare.

Autonomous Emergency Braking is standard, as are Emergency Stop Signal and Hill Start Assist. Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot alert aren’t fitted, but you do get guidelines in the reverse camera plus rear parking sensors.

Chris Picanto GT Line 2

What’s it go like?

This where the noisy part of Kylie comes to mind. The four speed is archaic, so archaic even the Romans chose not to use it. Final drive gearing has the engine at 3000rpm when travelling at 100km/h. Factor in road noise via the otherwise excellent Nexen tyres and you’ll be reaching for the audio system’s volume controls.

Acceleration is not quick and really requires a good stab of the alloy pedal to encourage forward motion. The other pedal makes the lightweight machine slow quickly in compensation.

Balancing that is nimble handling and ideal dimensions for city living and parking. At just 3595mm long and 1595mm wide it occupies not very much real estate.

It weighs just 995kg before cargo and fuel, meaning it’s relatively lightweight and eminently chuckable in corners.

A low centre of gravity keeps it stable. The Macpherson strut front and multi-link torsion bar rear are tuned to be a little more sporty and the lower profile rubber aids that quest.

But it’s that lack of mumbo and, dare we say it, a lack of a better transmission such as a CVT that don’t merely dull the driving experience — it’s blunted.

And if GT is to be included, a turbo version would really make the Picanto GT-Line a stand out in the market place.

Chris Picanto GT Line 6

What we like?

  • Very good fuel economy
  • Looks great with the extra body trim
  • Great for inner city living


Chris Picanto GT Line 3

What we don’t like?

  • Dinosaur age auto
  • Fuel economy and drive experience could be better
  • Did we mention the auto?

Chris Picanto GT Line 7

The bottom line?

It’s cute to look at and great for a couple or a young family. Being cheap to run it won’t stress the hip pocket too much. It’ll also work well as a daily driver for those that aren’t automotively inclined.


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Kia Picanto GT-Line, priced from $17,490 driveaway
  • Looks - 8.0/10
  • Performance - 5.0/10
  • Safety - 7.0/10
  • Thirst - 9.0/10
  • Practicality - 7.0/10
  • Comfort - 7.0/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 8.0/10

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