Working to a budget is an art form in itself; it requires discipline, sacrifice and the ability to hunt down cheaper alternatives. The global recession has increased the legions of budget-conscious kiwis and for these dollar-saving masses there is a new stead – the 2011 Kia Picanto. The Korean city car is now in its second generation and offers a giant leap forward in quality and comfort. Priced from $18,590 the Picanto is one of the cheapest new cars in the country but it is running costs where this micro machine shines brightest. Hyped up by an advertising tagline of “Clever Around Town” Car and SUV decided to put the new Picanto through an examination to see what sort of grades it could achieve.
The Picanto exterior styling has a shrink-wrapped charm and while suitably cute it also features some sporty design cues. There’s an ascending belt line that links colour-matched door handles and gives it a progressive stance. At the rear, uniquely shaped, vertical taillights sit between an integrated hatch spoiler and a chunky bumper. But it’s at the front where the Picanto is a real caricature of Kia’s current design language. The corporate tiger-nose grille sits flanked by huge, raked-back headlights and a gaping low air dam finishes the distinctive look. Our tested base-spec LX manual model received some touches not usually found in a sub-$20k vehicle like front fog lamps, colour-coded mirror caps and 14-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels. Read the rest of this entry »