Our week-long test drive of the 2022 Kia Picanto GT is strangely refreshing, and reminiscent of when three pedal cars were so much more common. Today, they are fast becoming an anachronism as fewer are available in all kinds of segments.
Anecdotally, less of the newer generations of drivers are even interested or licensed to drive one. So it begins with us climbing into the little Signal (Fire Engine) Red toy, depressing the left pedal to start and away we go.
Lack of match practice had us making a conscious effort to not stall off the lights. But the clutch is light, as is the accelerator, and smooth take-offs are not difficult. The shift gate for first feels a little indistinct though and we found it too easy to select third gear off the line.
Less experienced drivers may find this an annoyance initially. The hill start assist is useful for confidence on any incline, too.
“Look at me” bright paintwork broken by black panels and chrome highlights give this car a presence that should appeal to the target demographic. The body kit adds to the pocket rocket look and the exhaust note provides the soundtrack.
It is surprisingly roomy for its size (small segment) and given your driver is 185cm tall, it is better than expected. That isn’t to say that some hard trims on the doors and console were still fun after a 90 minute drive.
But generally, most would find a comfortable driving position, even though the steering wheel adjustment does not include rake, only tilt.
The Picanto GT front end sports the current Tiger Nose style grille, with a blacked out insert. Satin Silver grille, headlamp and fog lamp trims, with black side front bumper vents, further define the assertive look.
The side sport body skirts with a chrome sill strip separate the two tone 16-inch alloy wheels. There are body coloured, heated folding exterior mirrors, with LED lighting all around, and chrome exterior handles.
Add that to the rear end treatment of a black lower diffuser with satin accent trims, and it forms a cohesive visual package.
The Picanto interior features bold red seating trim panels, with red stitching also found on the steering wheel and gearshift boot. Dark greys are everywhere else with Satin Silver accents and door armrest panels in red trims.
The alloy sports pedals just look right in this cabin. The front door panels feature bottle holders, but there are none in the rear. Front seat passengers have adjustable console cup holders forward of the gear stick with a console cubby box with padded lid at the rear.
A front passenger seat map pocket is provided. The good sized console open area is available for phone placement but there is no wireless charging pad. However there is 12V and USB-A outlets above it, and not everything can be added at this vehicle price point.
The front seat bolsters are well padded and supportive, almost to the point of being firm. Rear seat space is very limited, but that is the trade-off for a car of this size. In a real world test, we ferried a car full of teenagers around.
Apparently, it wasn’t a wonderful experience but they were okay for the twenty minutes of minor discomfort. The instrument cluster features a 4.7-inch supervision screen with a gear upshift ready light among other drive information.
Personal configuration is managed through the steering wheel controls, and the Picanto is fitted with the typical Kia multi-function steering wheel, with all button actions smooth and at hand.
The infotainment screen is a TFT 8.0-inch unit, with good visuals and responsiveness. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with AM/FM radio, delivered through six speakers.
The 2022 Kia Picanto GT is propelled by a turbocharged three cylinder 1.0-litre engine which puts out 74kW through the front wheels. It is surprisingly capable with 172Nm of torque, and helped in part by the vehicle’s tare weight of 1018kg.
This allows it to stretch its legs, and third gear on the freeway feels fun. Without making any conscious effort to keep the revs down, we still returned fuel economy of around middle 5.0-litres/100km.
Working through peak hour traffic after a freeway run one morning we saw as low as 4.8-litres/100km. Happily, the fuel gauge needle seems to like staying at the full end. The car has tailgate unlock function operated through the key and auto headlights are standard.
The GT model comes in four colours, including Signal Red (as tested), Clear White, Astro Grey and Aurora Black. The standard interior trim is patterned dark grey fabric with red accent panels and stitching.
The Picanto is covered by a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with one year roadside assistance. Yearly service intervals apply and service plans are available, priced from $1935 for five years.
The GT is equipped with six airbags, forward collision warning (FCW) with autonomous emergency braking, all around seatbelt reminders and an anti-theft alarm. We found the FCW system a little enthusiastic at times, but not enough to be an annoyance.
The 2022 Kia Picanto GT is priced at $21,490 drive away, and is a fun little car with a definite younger person stamp of approval. It has the looks (and sound) for those after a small, economical run-around with plenty of style. There is a lot to like and few drawbacks.
You can build and price a new Picanto GT on the Kia Australia website.
Our test vehicle was provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Kia Picanto GT, contact your local Kia dealer.