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Car Reviews | Features / 05-18-18

2017 Kia Picanto GT Line

A good drive in a tiny package


By Nicolas A. Calanoc Images by Nicolas A. Calanoc

 

The competition in the mini-compact segment here in the Philippines is really tight because every peso literally counts. Because of this, manufacturers tend to adhere to the principles of being economical: if there was a feature that wasn’t vital, they remove it.

But what if someone made a car with the same size without those restrictions? This is where Kia Picanto GT Line comes in, a mini-compact that didn’t spare much when it comes to expenses.

It’s impressive how Kia was able to give the Picanto a striking design in a small package. From the distinctive tiger nose grille to the rather sporty stance, there’s a very classy air about it; if anything, it almost looks European rather than Korean. And being a GT Line variant, the white body is nicely accented by the red trim pieces and 15-inch alloy wheels.

Inside this Picanto, there’s a very apparent feel that you’re in something of relatively high quality. From sturdy plastics to the leather strapped steering wheel, everything feels great. The gauges were simple and feature a multi-info computer in the middle, but it blends well to the white and red motif. Where it could be better is in the infotainment system; the absence of a touchscreen multimedia display might be a the drawback for those looking for it. For the tech savvy, having a USB port, AUX port, or Bluetooth isn’t enough. Other than that though, the Picanto GT Line does  deliver a package that feels quite upscale for its pricetag.

On paper, a 1.2-liter gasoline engine working with a 4-speed automatic transmission may sound old-fashioned, especially when other vehicles have begun using CVTs. Despite that, the combination actually works well in this Picanto.

The car is light so, despite having only four speeds, acceleration from the 83 horsepower engine is quite peppy. Surprisingly, the Picanto is a calm cruiser on the highway; you actually feel secure in it. The quality of the interior, the attention paid to NVH, and the new, stiffer body thanks to the use of more advanced (read: stronger) steel gave me the confidence that I was driving something well built and safe. And yes, for safety, the Picanto does have dual airbags and an anti-lock braking system.

The Picanto is really an enjoyable car because of how it felt to drive. There is just one catch: its price. In a class where everyone is trying to save every penny to be competitive, the GT Line trim is priced closely to a bigger, entry-level subcompact, and that’s probably why this version may not be the most popular variant of the model range.

Regardless of that, those who want something that delivers a European kind of pep and style in a small and fun package, the Kia Picanto GT Line might just be the one for you.