Can Kia turn this city car into a crossover?
Kia Picanto 1.25 X-Line
Engine: 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Torque: 95lb ft
Gearbox: 5-spd manual
Top speed: 107mph
CO2/tax band: 106g/km,Â TBC
You could buy a Kia Picanto for just Â£7495 so why would you spend about 70 per cent more to get a more upmarket version? Kia reports that about 25 per cent of buyers splash out on the more expensive versions of the city car, like the GT Line S. So the logic goes that some buyers will be happy to pay the Â£12,595 required for this X-Line, which combines city car with crossover. But how logical is that logic?
You never forget that this is a small car, one that was primarily designed to slip economically and unobtrusively through the city traffic. So it could be a seriously bad idea to burden such a design with thin skid plates, wheelarch extensions, a ride height raised by 15mm and all the other motifs youâ€™d see on a full-size crossover or SUV.
Along with a more aggressive nose there is a 1.25-litre engine behind it with 83bhp. That may not sound like much but on the road this thing pulls harder than youâ€™d expect, and from lower than youâ€™d imagine. Get 2000rpm on the dial and youâ€™re tootling along handsomely. Thereâ€™s a bit of engine boom as revs rise, but itâ€™s worth it for the top end energy that matches the low-end pull.
Thatâ€™s all a pleasant surprise, and another one is that handling doesnâ€™t seem to suffer from that raised ride height. Obviously handling and steering arenâ€™t exactly pin-sharp but theyâ€™re not sloppy either, while the extra length in the suspension makes what was a comfy ride even more comfortable.
Inside you get fake leather seats that are grey with lime stitching. Again, that sounds simply wrong, but actually it all works pretty well, and the seats are very comfortable. Obviously room for things like heads, knees and shoulders is limited, but for its external dimensions youâ€™ll not be taken aback by the room available. For a city car, this is reasonably spacious.
This is a strange one. The looks are very much a subjective choice, but somehow we think it works. Which is pretty much our summary of the car. On paper it ought to be a disaster but in the metal it all works beguilingly well. It goes well, handles as well as the most models and actually copes better with the standard 16-inch wheels than the sportier GT-Line model.
Add in a ride which has actually benefitted by being raised, then further add a lot of standard equipment, and you have a car that slots in convincingly to the apparently insatiable demand for SUVs, soft-roaders, crossovers and the like.
The Picanto is a big seller for Kia and we wouldnâ€™t be surprised to see the X-Line adding to that success as it comes on line. Itâ€™s perfectly logical after all.