We’ve driven Kia’s newest addition to the Picanto range – the X-Line. It has crossover-inspired styling and more specification, but how does it stack up against a plethora of competitors?
What is a Picanto X-Line?
The new radiator grille and front bumper design distinguish the X-Line model from its brethren.
The Picanto X-Line sits atop the Picanto range as a "halo model" of sorts. It has unique bumpers, its own LED light treatment for both front and rear clusters and some flared wheel arches (with hefty mudguards) that house new 15-inch alloy wheels. The addenda give it a more prominent look and while the theme is crossover-like, there is no difference in ground clearance from the standard versions.
The X-Line replaces the previous Smart spec level and incorporates all the proverbial bells and whistles available in the Picanto range, including 2-tone artificial leather seats and a leather-trimmed steering wheel, as well as a new 8-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
What's the Picanto X-Line like to drive?
One of the most stable drives in its class.
The Picanto has always felt like one of the more solid offerings in the small-car segment. While many of its competitors seem to sway in a stiff breeze, the Kia feels substantial and reasonably sure-footed. While whizzing down the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive and over Red Hill Road into Simon’s Town, the Picanto felt composed and even fun to coax through the twisties... It handles very neutrally, which means it’s unlikely to be unsettled by quick jerks of the steering wheel, such as when you need to execute emergency lane-change manoeuvres (swerve to avoid an obstacle). While the Picanto's probably never going to be utilised as a sportscar or, shall we say, "pinned" through a mountain pass, it’s good to know the underlying handling ability of this former #CarsAwards finalist is safe and stable.
Powering the Picanto X-Line is a 1.25-litre naturally aspirated petrol motor (61 kW and 122 Nm). In a car this small, it’s a perfect companion, providing adequate acceleration, decent overtaking ability and low fuel consumption figures. After half a tank’s driving, we averaged 6.4 L/100 km, which should easily fall into the 5s (or lower) through the adoption of a more economical driving style.
What’s the Picanto X-Line like inside?
The upmarket interior (for its segment) comes with an excellent infotainment system.
Kia’s interiors, across its range of cars, are all pretty good. The quality is well above average in the segment and the fit 'n' finish right at the top of its class. The Picanto competes against models such as the Suzuki Ignis, Renault Sandero Stepway and Ford Figo Freestyle; while the Picanto is a comparatively smaller inside, its interior feels luxurious, especially with the leather-trimmed 'wheel in hand.
In terms of connectivity, there’s just the one USB port at the front, but the very modern-looking and hi-res 8-inch touchscreen does support Bluetooth streaming, hands-free telephony, as well as Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
You may find that rear passenger space is a bit cramped/tight around the knees, but the load bay is reasonably sized when compared to the aforementioned rivals (a claimed capacity of 255 litres).
How safe is the Picanto X-Line?
The Picanto X-Line is, fittingly, equipped with 2 airbags and ABS with EBD. You don’t get stability or traction control, but the body shell of the Picanto has proven to be one of the safest in its segment.
Possibly one of the most enticing aspects of the Picanto X-Line is its standard 5-year/unlimited km warranty. Having peace of mind for 5 years of motoring, irrespective of how many kilometres you clock up, is certainly a boon when you're shopping on a tight budget. A 2-year/30 000 km service plan, which is included in the purchase price, can be extended at extra cost.
The Picanto remains one of the best choices in the SA small market.
No, there isn’t anything strikingly different about the Picanto range... The X-Line offers a more eye-catching design that fits in with the crossover look that’s currently selling well across the board. Aside from that, not much really needed to change as the small-car offering is still relevant and just as competitive within the segment. The engine and transmission are excellent and the chassis feels planted and stable, where some of the competition can feel wayward and light under windy or slippery conditions.
Interior space is perhaps the one aspect in which the Picanto falls short of its intended rivals, but it matches most of them in terms of load-bay capacity. Overall, the Picanto continues to present an easy choice for buyers looking for peace of mind, thanks to its long warranty, as well as a fuss-free package that's equipped with all the modern gizmos to keep it relevant in a cutthroat segment of the market.
Picanto X-Line pricing
1.2 Manual X-Line R237 995
1.2 Automatic X-Line R251 995