We drove the Kia Pikanto 1.2 ISG GT Line: the spicy delights of life…

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We all know it: small is beautiful. Some even say more: “a master needs few tools”.  Indeed, the true master really shows himself in the little materials he needs for his craft, or to exert his masterful skills.  For the designer or the painter, this means that only a few strokes of pencil or brush are needed to create a masterpiece.

Well, the Kia engineers and designers only needed a 3,595 mm to put on wheels a delightful car that fulfills all your driver’s dreams. Just read further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Already walking around the car one clearly sees that this well proportioned two/four door compact has sporting aspirations. The front grille is adorned with an aerodynamic skirt flanked by air inlets at the edges. Narrow aerodynamic skirts ar also found under the doors, but nevertheless everything is stylish and the sporting touches are quite subtle. The twin exhaust tailpipe and small red accent lines at the rear, together with the GT badge betray that swift performance can be expected from the car in front of you.

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And indeed, swift performance there is. In abundance we would say. This Pikanto will sprint with eagerness from 0 to 100 kmh in 12 seconds, and hurtle further to a top speed of 173 kmh.

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The four cylinder unit revs freely, develops a healthy 84 HP at 6000 rpm. The gearbox shifts delightfully. Sporting pleasure is to be had behind the wheel, with a very positive and predictable handling and excellent braking. Kia is extensively testing its cars in the “green hell” of the Nürburgring, and this is felt clearly in its more sporting products. They handle quite well indeed.

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With all this furore, don’t think that this sporting machine is difficult to drive in slow traffic. Far from it. It is as docile as a lamb when you are not in a hurry. The engine is totally untemperamental and will pull smoothy from 1000 rpm onwards, being totally inaudible and vibrationless,  also the clutch is progressive and of course again the gearchanges are totally effortless. Maximum torque of 122 Nm is available at 4000 rpm, but there is plenty of good pulling power also in medium rev ranges as the torque curve is rather flat.

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This also reflects in a very reasonable consumption when driven with restraint, and even in heavy urban traffic averages between 5 and 6 liters over 100 km are quite feasible. A compact car which is marvelously fit for today’s driving conditions. The manufacturer quotes 5,8 liters in urban consumption, but merely 3,7 liters on the open road, resulting in an average of 4,5 liters. CO2 emissions are quoted at 106 g/km.

The Pikanto is also very well at home on fast motorways, thanks to its abundant pulling power and surefootedness at high speeds.

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You will understand that this Pikanto is therefore quite endearing, and grows on you the longer you drive it. It also reflects the enormous experience far east car manufacturers have acquired in designing cars fit for megacities and today’s driving conditions.

Euopean design flair in the cabin

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The interior shows clearly that European bred designers have a hand in sculpting the contours of the cabin, instrumentation, surfaces and knobs and handles. Clarity and instrument stylishness reminiscent of famous European (Audi) examples seduces your eyes. It will seat easily four adults, and therefore can be deservedly seen as a roomy contender in the supermini class. It also has a class-leading 255-litre boot.

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One has also a with a large 7.0-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen HMI (human-machine interface) sitting at the heart of the centre console and moving many of the car’s controls further up into the driver’s line of sight. A satin chrome-effect strip runs across the dashboard for a higher quality ambience, and large, vertical air vents at either end ‘bookend’ the front passenger compartment.

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Conclusion

The Kia Picanto is very well designed and built indeed, has good qualities in abundance. Drives delightfully easy, with pleasant sportiness offered too, all this combined with quite reasonable comfort and ample space fitting for a supermini. It is refined as it is economical, and has also easy to use and well equipped and versatile infotainment.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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