- All the practicality of a small SUV with compact city car dimensions
- The generous levels of on-board technology are included in the asking price
- Rugged styling and good economy
- Only available powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine
- A little pricey for a city car although it is well equipped
- Limited legroom for back seat passengers
When Kia introduced the X-Line version of its popular Picanto city car it was so much more than a simple rebadging exercise with a raft of rugged design and styling cues. It was like a Picanto on steroids with new dimensions showing off its growth spurt. In fact, Kia took inspiration from its SUV line-up and this city car grew 77mm longer, 30mm wider and 15mm taller which increased its appeal to the SUV-crazy public.
Now the X-Line S has been launched adding a whole range of attractive features, including a seven-inch touchscreen sat nav system, wireless mobile phone charging, heated front seats and steering wheel, automatic air conditioning, an electric sunroof, some extra chrome trim on the door handles and sports bumpers, plus twin exhaust pipes.
These additions see the price of the Picanto X-Line S rise to £14,000 compared to the £12,600 cost of the X-Line model.
On The Road
The Kia Picanto X-Line S is only available powered by a 1.2-litre 83bhp petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. It can sprint to 60mph from a standing start in 11.6 seconds, maxes out at 107mph and, according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 61.4mpg with carbon emissions of 106g/km. There are no plans for an automatic version although that is an option in Picanto X-Line spec.
Although Kia has raised the height of the latest Picanto it hasn’t had a detrimental effect on its handling capabilities - in fact, it’s a little firecracker of a car that fizzes along country lanes. The road-holding is assured and the precise steering is an absolute delight.
There is a little body sway if long sweeping bends are attacked too enthusiastically and that’s really down to the fact that the car was riding high on 16-inch alloys.
The tight turning circle and good all-round visibility make the Picanto perfect for bustling city centre driving with cars and pedestrians darting out from all angles and those features also make parking the Picanto an absolute doddle.
The car is also very happy and capable on faster dual carriageways where the acceleration through the manual transmission is smooth and responsive. However, I was at times looking for a non-existent sixth gear.
Compared to the standard Picanto the ride can be a little less forgiving mainly due to the 16-inch alloys which are quite large for a city car. So, you can expect to feel the occasional jolt when you hit an unexpected pothole.
However, the Picanto X-Line S is fabulous fun to drive. It oozes confidence and the flat-bottomed steering wheel and sports pedals are perfectly suited to the car. The sharp steering and responsive acceleration make this particular Picanto a city car with an edge.
Despite the increased dimensions of the X-Line S compared to the standard Picanto, the ride and handling capabilities have not been compromised and if anything, it actually feels slightly more dynamic. It’s a car that would suit a whole range of buyers from downsizers who still enjoy a sense of style and the practicality of five doors, to first time owners who fancy a vehicle that’s packed with all the latest on-board technology but won’t break the bank or hurt their street credibility.
The Picanto S-Line X is incredibly upmarket for a city car/small SUV with some beautiful and well thought-out styling cues. The faux leather upholstery looks smart and there are funky lime green colour splashes on the doors and gear shift surrounds. It’s bright and stylish without being garish at all. There is also a wealth of technology to explore with many features often found in more premium cars including the likes of a wireless phone charger and heated seats and steering wheel. it’s also worth remembering that Kia will never hit the customer with optional extra costs - what you see is what you get.
Although the larger dimensions haven’t had a detrimental effect on the Picanto’s handling abilities, it does seem to be a little noisier within the cabin, especially when pushed along. There is a little more wind noise than standard models, but it’s still relatively refined and with the likes of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity included, what better excuse is needed to crank up the volume.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Comfort levels up front are excellent and with the tilt steering wheel adjustment along with sliding and reclining front seats it’s quite easy to get a good driving position. All the controls, dials and readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use and many of the car’s features are controlled via the multi-function steering wheel.
Both front seats can be heated and the steering wheel can also be warmed to fend off that winter chill.
There is a neat seven-inch touchscreen that looks like it is floating in the centre of the dashboard and other creature comforts include the likes of sat nav, a six-speaker audio system, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth with music streaming, full smartphone connectivity, USB and Aux ports, a DAB digital radio, automatic air conditioning, a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines plus Kia Connected Services featuring TomTom that adds traffic, speed cameras, local search and weather updates. The cruise control and speed limiter are also simple to operate.
Space & Practicality
A car vying for sales in both the city car and compact SUV sectors needs to be a viable and practical option with all the versatility needed to meet the demands of a small family. And in fairness, the Picanto S-Line X succeeds to a degree.
Up front there is oodles of room for the driver and passenger and the light flooding in from the sunroof helps to create a bright and welcoming cabin environment.
Back seat passengers are not quite so blessed though. Yes, there is enough legroom for a couple of youngsters to sit comfortable but only if the front seats are not pushed back too far. The car does however offer more leg and headroom than rivals in its class and as Kia is keen to point out - the Picanto X-Line S is not intended to be a fully-grown SUV.
The boot capacity ranges from 255 litres to 1,010 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there are numerous handy cubby holes scattered throughout the car. These include door pockets, cup holders, a central bin, a tray behind the gear lever, a decent-sized glovebox, along with a dual height boot floor with a net and hooks.
So, onto the finer details then - how much will the Picanto X-Line S set you back? Well, the price-tag is exactly £14k which may seem a little steep for a pumped-up city car, but when you take into consideration all the top quality kit that is included in the price it soon becomes very competitive. Many rivals would offer a cheaper entry price but once the likes of sat nav, Apple CarPlay and heated seats are added the price has climbed to well beyond that of the Picanto X-Line S.
And with an official combined fuel economy figure of 61.4mpg trips to the petrol station will be few and far between. The CO2 emissions figure of 106g/km would result in a first-year Vehicle Excise Charge of £140 and payments would stay the same for each following year.
The Picanto X-Line S is in insurance Group 7 along with the X-Line model.
Quality & Reliability
Manufacturers don’t offer a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty if they are not ultra-confident in their cars and that sums up Kia perfectly. The Picanto is beautifully designed but is also well built to last the test of time.
With families in mind, there are plenty of wipe clean surfaces, but the car also looks upmarket with textured plastics and neat faux-leather upholstery. The switchgear feels solid and there are no nasty sharp edges even if you delve deep beneath the steering wheel.
Kia also has a range of care plans that were renamed Kia Care in April this year and they offer customers options such as full servicing for seven years and also MOT testing. The plans can be purchased at any time for cars up to five years of age with costs varying depending on the model and the chosen plan. And just like the warranty, the plans can also be transferred if the car is sold on.
Safety & Security
The Picanto X-Line S has the full Kia Advanced Driving Assistance Pack as standard so has been awarded a four-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Safety features on the Picanto X-Line S include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, electronic stability control and vehicle stability management, autonomous emergency braking, emergency stop signaling, hill start assist, tyre pressure monitoring along with numerous airbags and Isofix child seat fixtures.
There are child-proof rear door locks, along with impact sensing automatic door unlocking.
The car is protected by an anti-theft alarm system to keep uninvited attention at bay.