You know SUVs are popular when pint-sized city cars emulate the look, but is the more rugged Kia Picanto X-Line worth the money? We jumped behind the wheel to find out.
If you can’t beat them, join them. That seems to be the logic behind giving just about every type of car a crossover flavour because Brits are buying SUVs left, right and centre. With that in mind we present to you one of the smallest examples, the Kia Picanto X-Line.
Though the Kia Picanto X-Line only does the off-road thing aesthetically – it is really no more capable than its less rugged counterpart – the hope is that punters will be swayed anyway.
And swayed we most certainly are because a small car (the smallest in the Kia range, no less) with a big attitude is hard to dislike.
What exactly do you get from the Kia Picanto X-Line besides looking like a miniature terrain-conquering city car, though, and how does it perform?
What is the Kia Picanto X-Line?
Imagine the Kia Picanto. Done it? Now raise it up off the floor 15mm, slap on some black plastic wheel arch extensions and sill covers and then attach some skid plates and a new face with a lime green outbursts. Ta da, you have the X-Line variant.
Those relatively few changes do little to disguise the fact it is a Picanto on the outside, but boy does it make it less old-people and more trendy, especially with standard 16-inch alloys adding a dash of sportiness. The interior is also brighter and nicer to look despite featuring some uninspiring design touches.
Turning the wheels is the job of the 83bhp four-cylinder 1.25-litre petrol, which is by no means fast. It is, however, zippy enough for daily life and the engine only really sounds thrashy if you wring out the upper echelons of the revs. Not that you need to because 95lb/ft of torque is decent in a small car with a kerb weight of 939kg.
You pay more for the privilege of the more able engine and jazzy styling, of course, but the spec, which sits between the GT-Line and the top of the range GT-Line S, is solid.
Price-wise, a standard Picanto 1 costs from £9,500, while the X-Line comes in at from £12,600. Expect to pay from £14,000 for a GT-Line S.
Standard equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, grey faux leather upholstery, LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights, privacy glass and a 7-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.
How does the Kia Picanto X-Line drive?
Rather like the 2017 Kia Picanto it is based on, funnily enough, but the extra height does make it more prone to rolling around. Nonetheless, it has decent cornering grip and the five-speed manual is never any hassle. We found it surprisingly pleasing to blast around country lanes.
What really stands out though is the refinement. Compared with city cars of yesteryear, you could be fooled into thinking it was a family hatchback. It plods along relatively smoothly without battering you with road or wind noise, while the seats keep you comfortable.
You sometimes pine for a sixth gear, admittedly, but cruising at the motorway limit avoids being an unpleasant experience. Apart from that, there is nothing that spoils what is a competent little machine.
Is the Kia Picanto X-Line practical?
Being 5mm taller and having a 15mm longer wheelbase than its predecessor makes the new Picanto a little more practical, but it is still a city car. That means those in the back may not want to be there for too long. The front is much easier to live with, however, even if you are around six-foot.
It is rather practical in terms of cubby holes, too, and the boot is 255 litres with the rear seats up (the old car had 200 litres) and 1,070 litres with them down. Almost supermini levels of space, then, which is impressive, useful and puts the Picanto ahead of its rivals.
The Kia seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty should also get a mention as it is the healthiest in the business. Not that Kias seem too prone to causing mechanical trouble, but the reassurance is worth having.
The 106g/km CO2 rating, meanwhile, means the Picanto X-Line will be cheap to tax and cheap to run, thanks to being good on fuel. Kia claims 64.1mpg combined.
Should I buy the Kia Picanto X-Line, then?
The Kia Picanto makes sense for those who want a small, easy to park car that drives well and is suitably refined.
The fact the X-Line model looks particularly pleasing is a big plus and one that is justified by the equipment you get and Kia’s generous warranty.