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Driven: 2022 Kia Picanto GT-Line S. Image by Kia.

Driven: 2022 Kia Picanto GT-Line S
The GT-Line S trim adds some sporting intent to the already brilliant Picanto city car.

   



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2022 Kia Picanto GT-Line S

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The Kia Picanto is one of the best city cars you can buy, merging compact dimensions with plenty of space and surprisingly good quality, not to mention a driving experience that's far more pleasant than you might expect. This GT-Line S model aims to add a little sporting style and character, but does it deliver?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Kia Picanto GT-Line S 1.0 T-GDi
Price: £17,050 as tested
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power: 100hp
Torque: 172Nm
Emissions: 120g/km
Economy: 53.3mpg
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
Boot space: 255 - 1,010 litres

Styling

The little Picanto's styling hasn't changed much over the years, but the latest models are set apart by the new, more angular Kia logo on the front and rear, as well as a slightly more focused front end. The sporty GT-Line models, however, are defined by their red-streaked bodywork, which gives them a slightly sportier look than the standard cars, while 16-inch alloy wheels and gloss black skid plates raise them further above the standard models.

Interior

Kia has given this range-topping, sporty version of the Picanto a little high-performance lift, adding a slightly flat-bottomed steering wheel and some red stitching, as well as red panels in the leather upholstery. But otherwise it's fairly standard Picanto stuff, albeit with some high-end kit. Climate control and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system are not standard across the range, but they make the car feel slightly bigger and more upmarket than it is. As does the way in which it's built. Kia has made great strides in terms of quality, and the Picanto has one of the smartest interiors of anything in the class. Sure, the plastics aren't always great, but they're well constructed and strategically used, so it always feels as tactile as possible.

Practicality

The Picanto is a small car, but the interior doesnít feel as compact as you might expect. Thereís bags of space for those in the front Ė the high roofline comes in handy there Ė but the news isnít quite so good in the back. Thereís just about enough room for adults, but you arenít going to want to spend too long on the rear bench. The same can be said of other cars in this class, though.

But while the rear space isnít too spectacular, thereís a solid amount of boot space. With a 255-litre capacity, the Picanto has marginally more carrying space than a Volkswagen Up! and the Hyundai i10. Admittedly, it only shades those two cars by a few litres, but it still shades them.

Performance

Under the bonnet, the Picanto GT-Line S is only available with a 100hp turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine. Those who go for the GT-Line can also have a less powerful, non-turbo engine, but for S customers it's turbo or nothing. And that's great, because the engine is eager even though it doesn't really have all that much power, and the manual gearbox is snappy. The sprint to 62mph takes a respectable but unremarkable 9.9 seconds and the top speed is 112mph. But that just means you can wring this engine's neck for all its worth without ever reaching truly terrifying speeds. It's enormously good fun.

But if you drive more sedately, you'll realise the other advantage of this tiny turbocharged engine. Settle into a steady cruise and it'll manage more than 50mpg, which means it's cheap to run and, with all that extra power, surprisingly competent on the motorway. If you're going to take a city car on a long drive, few will feel better than this.

Ride & Handling

Despite the sporty accoutrements, this isnít necessarily where you might expect the Picanto GT-Line S to shine. In many ways, it doesnít perform brilliantly Ė thereís quite a lot of body roll and the steering is a bit light Ė but thereís some charm in there. Thereís plenty of grip and the body roll will scare you long before the car tips, and thereís something hilarious about hustling it. You can go everywhere at full chat, and you donít even have to worry about losing your licence. Itís one of the few cars to make us laugh out loud.

But for all that fun, it does the grown-up stuff too. The light steering and compact dimensions make it easy to manoeuvre in town, and while the ride isnít smooth Ė you canít expect small cars to ride brilliantly Ė itís no more jiggly than the standard, less sporty car. Itís perfectly acceptable even on long trips.

Value

Picanto prices start at a hugely competitive £12,250, but our range-topping GT-Line S test car came in at just over £17,000. That's still comparatively cheap when the VW Up starts at around £14,000, and it's very good value for a car with climate control, heated seats and a heated steering wheel. It gets an eight-inch touchscreen, too, complete with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration tech. And that's before we mention the leather upholstery and the GT-Line S styling kit.

Verdict

The Picanto is an absolute star, and this GT-Line S version is even more spectacular. So what if people don't believe the sporty looks? The Picanto is enormous fun and completely unthreatening if you want to drive it to its limits. Perhaps it won't set any lap records, but you'll be able to rag it at almost any time and it'll reward you for doing so. It's a very happy little car.



James Fossdyke - 30 Aug 2022



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