WHEN a Porsche owner uses a Kia Picanto as his main personal transport it just goes to show how far the booming Korean car maker has progressed since the first generation of the Picanto was launched in 2004.
For with the greatest respect to Kia it would have been extremely unlikely when the first Picanto was born that any Porsche owner would have even considered owning a Kia car but the situation has changed since those days with Kia now having established an impressive reputation in the UK.
I make this observation as the latest third generation of the Picanto has just been launched in the UK as a stylish five door five seater with a fuel consumption up to 64.2mpg and emissions as low as 101g/km and priced from £9,450.
My friend with the Porsche who I call Joe Porsche because of his personalised number plate said he had decided to go for a fairly new Picanto because he liked its looks,its fuel consumption and low emissions plus that seven year warranty and that it was such an enjoyable and economical small car to own and drive.
I am sure he would like the new Picanto which is available in nine versions based on two engines, two transmissions and five trim lines with a new turbocharged three cylinder petrol engine due to join the range later this year.
The new generation Picanto is only available as a five door because three door models account for only 10 per cent of sales in the city car sector and it is a move I welcome because it is such a pain getting in and out of the back seats in small three door cars.
Kia rightly say that in this sector of the market size does really matter for research has proved that city car buyers do not want big cars so the new Picanto occupies exactly the same amount of road space as the previous model.
The Picanto is only available with petrol engines because diesel engines add to the purchase price while offering few advantages in overall running costs and the engine range will include later in the year for the first time a three cylinder 99bhp unit.
A five speed manual gearbox is standard but a four speed automatic is optional with the 1.25 MPi engine which should be of interest especially to disabled drivers and those owners who prefer to let the car do the gear changing for more relaxed motoring.
The new Picanto looks good with its improved styling and there is a classy and roomy interior that should help to make the car really popular with potential customers along with its impressive specification.
Since the original Picanto was launched this particular sector of the market has become much more competitive with some very good small cars from leading manufacturers now available but it would appear that this latest Kia along with its low running costs and that seven year warranty should really cut the mustard.
I am sure that many existing owners like the aforementioned Kia/Porsche owner and potential customers will be equally impressed with the new Picanto which will soon be adding to the soaring sales figures of the Korean car manufacturer.
Model: New Kia Picanto.
Engines: Three petrol.
Transmission: Manual and automatic.
Doors: Five door.
Price: From £9,450.