Reader test: Kia Picanto Striker
Jean-Pierre Bester, Roodepoort
A few weeks ago I wanted to trade-in my Megane for a small, reliable and economical city car.
I’ve always like the previous Picanto’s “squirrel face”, but found the interior of that model too light (grey mixed with black dash). Nonetheless, it was, or still is, a great second hand buy. Hence, my decision to have a look at the new Picanto. One week later I was at Kia signing the papers for my new car.
There are other small hatches like the Hyundai i10, Chevrolet Spark, Fiat Panda and Citroën C1/Peugeot 107, but something about this Picanto made me like it the most. The first thing I noticed was the better quality over its predecessor. Also, the doors close with an “expensive feel”, it now has keyless entry and the ride quality is, in my opinion, the best you can find in this segment.
Sitting inside, there is lots of space up front, but it’s a little cramped in the rear. The boot is ridiculously small, with only enough room for a bag or two. All controls falls easily to hand and I like the way the middle console is tilted towards the driver, making it more driver oriented.
The seats are of a good quality and have a great feel to them, but could do with more side support. But in this segment, cars are built to a certain price... The steering wheel also has adjustment, so getting a comfortable seating position is easily executed. The new instrument binnacle is a winner, but I would have liked a temperature gauge. I like the funky-looking white on black rev and speedo counter.
Now the most important part for me – how the car drives. I am used to a 2.0-litre powerplant, so I knew beforehand that I would have to adjust to a smaller car’s performance, or the lack thereof. To my surprise, the little 1.1-litre 12-valve motor with 49kW is easy to maneouvre around town, is very nippy and rockets off the line.
Only with open road cruising do you realise that the engine works harder to keep up the pace, but also keep in mind that the car only has a few hundred kilometers on the clock, so its performance is bound to improve. The ride is excellent for such a small car, bouncy at some stages, especially over road imperfections, but absorbent.
I have not finished my fuel tank yet, to work out my fuel consumption, but I can say that I have driven about 400 km so far and presume I could drive another 200km on the remaining fuel, which work out to 17km/l. With my next tank I shall put in Testosterone (95 unleaded).
For the money, you cannot get better in this segment. I do feel however that Hyundai makes a good case for itself with the i10, and at the end of the day, choosing between the Kia and Hyundai will depend on your brand preference and character of the vehicle.
I chose the Kia because it’s more appealing to me, and the company is launching awesome cars these days with good build quality. And I love the cutesy looks and the lower stance over the competitors. I know that I will have many happy kilometers with a fuller wallet at the end of the month, leaving a big smile on my face while passing the big shots in their luxury cars with tears in their eyes.