Theories of relativity

Keep the little Kia in context and its big-picture qualities shine through


LIFE with the Picanto has been relative this month; relatively uneventful, fuss-free, and without any major downers.

Even the steering in the Picanto is relative – to your speed, that is. You see, the electric steering in the Kia changes its weighting depending on how fast you are moving, and it is one of the hidden delights of the car.

At low speeds, the steering wheel can be twirled with ease, spinning through its 2.7-turns lock-to-lock effortlessly; brilliant for car parks and slow-speed manoeuvring.

Pick up the pace to ‘around town’ levels and there is more weight to the wheel, which nails the middle ground between too light, where the car can feel remote, and too heavy, where regular day-to-day driving can be tiresome.

At highway speeds the Picanto feels surefooted, in part thanks to the variable assistance. At 100km/h the weight of the wheel again sits in a sweet spot where it offers just enough resistance to eliminate any ‘sneeze-factor’ at the straight ahead, but with nice tactility when applying some input.

Even the inside of the cabin has been a lesson in relativity. One of the Picanto’s weak points is road noise at highway speeds, which can become quite loud. This is most noticeable in rainy conditions, or on roads with a less-than-perfect seal. Small rocks pitter-patter against the inside of the wheelarches – I cope with this by imagining I’m in a stripped-out race car. But you have to look at it with context; road noise is a class norm for light econo-cars like the Picanto.

Recently, in a late-night Swedishmeatball- Recently, in a late-night Swedishmeatball- fuelled haze (egged on by my home-decorating girlfriend), I bought a new lounge chair. Hauling my new package from the Ikea warehouse to my apartment meant the Picanto would face its first serious challenge.

Unlike pretty much everything else bought from the Great Blue Swedish Hall, this lounge wasn’t a flat-pack item, and was roughly large enough to fill a small SUV boot. On paper, the Picanto has 255 litres of luggage space with the rear seats upright, and 1010 with them folded. But what does that mean in reality? Well, with the backrest neatly stowed, my new purchase slotted into the Picanto with room to spare.

It was an instructive exercise because it would be easy to dismiss the Picanto as limited in load-carrying ability due to its diminutive exterior dimensions. Yet the little Kia passed its toughest test so far.

Time to ring a couple of mates, then, and organise a weekend away to really put its fully loaded abilities to the sword.


No lid for the small centre console receptacle means your devices, cables and coins sit in plain view. Not ideal


Date acquired: July 2017 Price as tested: $14,710 This month: 771km @ 6.9L/100km Overall: 1282km @ 6.7L/100km ac m Overall

Flick, flip... no flop

Lowering the rear backrests in the Picanto is simple and swift. Flick the latches on either side of the cargo area and the 60/40 split seat drops effortlessly. A bout of stubbornness and machoism meant I attempted to lower the rear seats while holding a rug for my living room in one arm. Could I have put the rug down? Yes. But I didn’t have to, and before my girlfriend could chastise me, the new purchase was stored inside the cabin.