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By William Kelly
When I was young, the thought of being a journalist was far from my mind. But the love of cars, however, was not. I am less of a youngster now, but the thought of cars still excite me. The thought of writing about them is even more exciting, because it’s incredibly difficult. Google is tough to compete with – but Google can’t yet express an opinion.
For instance, consider the Kia Picanto X-Line. It doesn’t exactly leap out from the Ferrari brigade, does it? It’s just a car, with specs that can be listed and pictures which can be viewed.
One would think that ‘X’ is marketing speak for entry-level. It turns out that ‘X’ means plenty of good.
Kia may have a bit of a problem with the Picanto X-Line and it’s numerous, appealing qualities. I think it may give the bigger Rio a hard time on the sales floor. The X-Line is styled a crossover/mini SUV. This is an excellent mix for a city runabout. With our poor roads – particularly in Johannesburg – having a car that can take the punishment meted out to it daily is practically mandatory. Not everyone can afford a Land Rover, and if my millennial friends are to be believed, small cars are ‘it’ these days.
So what’s the Picanto X-Line like? Well, I absolutely loved it.
The X-Line has an awesome colour range – my test unit was painted in a shade of yellow called ‘Honey Bee’. Fitted with a willing 1.2-litre motor, it’s no drag strip machine. But it does rev freely, all day long, without protest. The petrol engine is also coupled to what felt like one of the strongest manual gearboxes I have engaged with in ages.
The chassis and handling are superb, way about the engine’s ability to challenge in any way. The Picanto is smooth, simple and effortless to drive. The impressive power steering is engaging and the interior is of high quality – it feels as if it will outlast its owners. The switchgear is equally impressive and intuitive. – which isn’t as easy to get right as one may suspect.
The X-Line also sports air-conditioning (which is powerful enough to please a polar bear) and leather trim. Android Auto and Apple Carplay are both standard. The infotainment system looks more integrated than some of the examples seen on high-end, German cars.
Over small potholes, humps and road undulations, the little Picanto feels grown up. Bumps mean very little to the car – the ride is unaffected. Steering remains calm and reassured and the ride is compliant. It would take a fairly substantial jolt, I believe, to ruffle the Picanto’s feathers.
The car handles beautifully. You would be hard-pressed to find a Picanto put into a hedge, owing to driver incompetence. The only issue I had with the car is road noise. It’s not severe, but on poor road surfaces and higher speeds, it is somewhat intrusive. However, this is a criticism that can be levelled at most cars in this category.
But don’t take my word for it, dear reader. I implore you to drive the vehicle for yourself.
The Picanto X-Line is offered with a five-year/unlimited km warranty, five-year/unlimited km roadside assistance and a two-year/30,000 km service plan.
In the presentation, Kia also previewed a Picanto panel van, equipped with a 1,0-litre (and the same warranty) at R203,995. If that doesn’t sell like hotcakes, I’ll eat my Crocs.
So there you have it. The Picanto X-Line. In the time I spent with it, I couldn’t fault it. The question is, can you do better at this price? I honestly don’t know if you could. Happily, it isn’t up to me to try and influence you. What I can say, is that you need to get behind the wheel of a Picanto X-Line, to see for yourself whether I am smoking my socks or not.
Kia Picanto X-Line 1.2 Manual
- Price: R237,995
- Power: 61 kW/122 Nm
- Fuel consumption: 5.0 litres/ 100 km (claimed)
- Top speed: 170 km/h
- Rivals: Ford Figo Freestyle, Renault Sandero Stepway
- Four budget beating hatchbacks for the cost conscious consumer
- Kia Rio: Meet Kia. The power to surprise. Indeed
- Volkswagen Polo Vivo 1,4 Trendline: When basic is best
In the interest of disclosure, Kia gifted BizNews Motoring a branded tog bag and six-pack cooler carrier on the launch of the Picanto X-Line.
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