Product Type: Kia cars
Newest Review: ... a cloaking device was an added extra. This says more about the aggressive driving out there than the Kia though and with a good balance ... more
Great value - great little car
Member Name: BulldogD
Advantages: Reliable and cheap to run
Disadvantages: Lacks power, poor key design, no spare tyre
This review refers to the Kia Picanto Chill (08)
This is a great value small car. My wife and I both had cars. I had a clapped out Peugeot 406 and my wife drove a much loved Ford Ka. Between us we were racking up hundreds of pounds in MOTs, road tax, fuel and general garage and maintenance bills. At the time we were commuting 400 miles a week and with increasing fuel bills things were really beginning to take their toll on the household budget. The time came to trade in and downsize.
I needed something small (my wife was comfortable driving a small car) reliable and low cost to run. It needed to handle our 400 mile a week commute (motorways and city driving) and work as a family car. Now, most folk would start thinking about a mid-sized family saloon at this point but our budget simply did not stretch to that. After much review reading we decided that the Picanto offered all we needed.
We paid around £8k in all for a blue Picanto Chill. For that you get:
5 doors (unusual on a car so small)
1.1 litre petrol engine
Driver and passenger air bags
USB port for mp3 players
And, well, that's pretty much it. But then it is cheap. More so now that this is established on the second hand market. Real bargains can be found.
The doors close with a satisfying clunk and the interior finish is perfectly acceptable for the price range - no walnut or leather but functional plastic. The dials and controls are easy to read or access and the gear change is solid (unlike the rather loose and cheap feeling Peugeot gearbox). The exterior styling can be described as "cute". The new styling of the Kia is nicer but I quite like our model. I'm a man and have no trouble being seen in this car. If you measure your masculinity by the type of car you drive then this isn't the car for you.
The engine is a bit thrashy at high revs and in the lower gears it's not as nippy as you'd hope. However, from 3rd gear onwards it is suitably responsive and it holds motorway speeds perfectly well. The ride is a little rough and noisy but if all you are doing is some urban driving then it is fine. Longer trips may require a few breaks to stretch your legs. You are not going to get Mercedes or BMW levels of driving comfort here.
There are things that annoy me. The key has the central locking button on the edge of the key and this is a deeply flawed design that results in constant accidental locking and unlocking of the car. I understand the new keys avoid this.
The rear view mirror does not provide a clear view out the back window due to the top brake light and the slope of the roof. This hasn't proven to be a safety problem but you need to use your wing mirrors more often.
Accelerating uphill is a time consuming business. It just doesn't have the power.
Fuel consumption is nowhere near the stated value. I get around 270 to 300 miles on a single tank. At current (September 2012) petrol prices it costs around £40 to fill her up from when the fuel light comes on.
There is no spare tyre supplied. There is a wheel well in the boot that can accommodate a tyre but instead you get a repair kit. In my opinion this is useless and it is worth sourcing a spare wheel, tyre iron and a jack. I got a steel wheel from a scrap yard and a cheap jack from Halfords. In the 4 years I've owned the car I've needed to use this 3 times. Without it I would have needed to be recovered from the roadside and that's a huge inconvenience for something as straightforward as a flat tyre.
Being a small car you are prone to getting bullied on the road. Expect to be cut up, tail gated and, somewhat alarmingly, appear to be completely invisible. I've often wondered whether a cloaking device was an added extra. This says more about the aggressive driving out there than the Kia though and with a good balance of awareness, defensive driving and confident driving you'll be fine. I think this goes for any small car though.
Despite the above, I love this car. It is cheap to run and maintain, reliable and a tough little so and so. I've run this car up and down the M9 in Scotland through 2 of the worst winters we've had in decades. It's started on the coldest of cold dark mornings and it has dealt with snowy and icy roads better than some of the larger cars that I passed that were stuck in the snow or, in one case, perched neatly on top of the crash barrier on the M9.
I have a daughter now and her safety seat fixes simply into the isofix brackets that come with the car. The boot is big enough to take her folding buggy and by using the back seat for storage we can all head out on the family shop. The back seats fold down giving you a surprisingly roomy space to transport larger items and we've squeezed a few IKEA things in the back in the past. There is also plenty of headroom despite its size. If you are really tall or have a family of 4 may struggle with space though. But this is a small hatchback not a 4x4 people carrying bus.
The car is small enough to nip through those little gaps in traffic on busy rush hour commutes and on more than one occasion her small size has actually saved us from a scrape or bump.
Cost wise a full service (every 10000 miles as per Kia's suggestion) is around £150. The timing belt was replaced at 60000 miles and cost around £400. A new tyre costs in the region of £40 to £55 depending on the make. Road tax is £30. As I mentioned, to fill a full tank (from when the light pops on) is about £40 at current prices. Headlight bulbs are fiddly (but not impossible) to change and a replacement brake light looks like it might be a bit of a challenge but it's just the bulb that needs replaced not an entire sealed light unit as some other makes of car require. My local garage has replaced bulbs in the past for £2 or £3 during an MOT so if you run into difficulties it's not a big or expensive job. Insurance is also relatively cheap as the car is in insurance group 10. I currently pay around £200 a year for fully comp but obviously this is dependent on my specific circumstances.
Changing a tyre is simple. These are not big wheels and the process can be completed in about 10 minutes. Again, I highly recommend getting a spare tyre. The repair kit that it comes with relies on pumping latex into the tyre to temporarily plug the hole so you can then drive home on it. This will only work if the hole is small enough. A garage may also refuse to repair the hole and insist on a new tyre given the extra work involved in sloshing out the latex. Like I said - useless and I suspect almost impossible to do on a dark roadside in the rain.
The oil filler cap, radiator fluid and screen wash reservoir are all easily accessible. Only the power steering fluid requires some sort of Kia specific product. The oil and coolant can be bought off the shelf.
General reliability appears to be very good. I've only had to carry out the usual maintenance with new tyres, brake pads etc. The little engine has never missed a beat and, as I mentioned, it has started first time in harsh sub-zero (-12) temperatures after cold soaking overnight.
I've had this car for 4 years now and unless my family expands I intend to keep it for several more years. She has done all we have asked of her and more. If you are prepared to compromise and have reasonable expectations then this is a great car for those on a tight budget.
Summary: Great small car for those with reasonable expectations