The small car is now more revelant than ever. Why do I make such a statement? Ease of parking in our crowded environments and of course, economy.
No doubt you have been discouraged by the tight areas that confront us, the motoris,t especially in out-of-town shopping centres and indeed, in city centres.
Keeping the cost of motoring down is paramount to many, so with the small car those bills tend to be considerably smaller.
However this is simply not enough to attract the buyer, the modern small car must have the creature comforts of a much larger vehicle, indeed in some cases the small car can have a decided premium feel.
Recently I had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the latest addition to the Kia Picanto range, the X-Line with its eager little 1.25 litre petrol engine with 83bhp at the command of the right foot and in harmony with the power unit a surprising slick five speed manual transmission.
This is a four-cylinder, 16-valve and it was extensively re-engineered for the launch of the latest Picanto in 2017 and is from the Kappa family of engines. It delivers lively performance for zipping around in urban traffic, with plenty in reserve for motorway driving and there is a four-speed automatic transmission available as an option.
The exterior styling of the X-Line has just a little sportiness, enough to attract the younger driver, but I must be fair anyone of any age could enjoy taking the wheel of the newcomer.
The interior is well packaged, with those touches which we have come to expect from a much larger vehicle in a class above. Offering class-leading cabin space, with more leg- and head-room than all other rivals in the A-segment and boot at capacity 255 litres– the most of any car in its class, with 60:40 split-folding rear seats, which can fold flat to increase capacity to 1,010 litres, this is the practical side of this little gem. Unique to this model, the grille and fog lamp surrounds are finished with lime green highlights, while black cladding around the side sills and wheel arches enhances the visual effect of the raised ground clearance.
The exterior door handles are finished in body colour and privacy glass is fitted to the rear windows and tailgate and ompleting the more muscular look are twin exhaust outlets, 16-inch alloy wheels with 195/45 R16 tyres, a shark-fin antenna and projection headlights with LED daytime running lights and fog lamps.
Other highlights a seven inch touchscreen display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity fitted as standard; Autonomous Emergency Braking and Hill-start Assist control and prices start at £12,595, (€14,335). N.I.
Behind the wheel of the X-Line made me think of my first set of wheels- a basic 850cc Mini, so far removed from this Picanto, and it was basic, in every sense of the word. Door handles were not part of the package, rather plastic covered wire, which had me hurtling off to Hopkirk’s motor accessory shop in Belfast to purchase a set of door handles. While there, I also purchased a number of other items to raise the quality and ease of use of the Mini.
Indeed I felt as if I was a shareholder in Paddy’s business and one occasion I reminded him that my purchases had helped him in no small way!
I spent two informative days with Kia and the opportunity arose to try the latest addition to their Stinger range, some weeks ago we featured the 3.3 litre version with 365bhp on tap.
I have to put my hand up and ask, “what is the point in bringing to market a version with a two litre engine?”. How wrong one can be, under the bonnet there is 244bhp and with an eight speed auto ISG transmission, I was left with a smile on my face.
Soon to arrive a diesel version and clearly Kia is not running away from the diesel engine and rightly so, the like has such a strong following throughout Ireland and the latest generation diesel units are clean, in fact cleaner than many petrol engines.