City car crossover: Kia Picanto X-Line driven

2 May 2018

Kia Picanto X-Line

The craze for crossovers shows no sign of abating, so everyone who can get in on the act is doing so with abandon. The results are sometimes a little odd, as is the case with the new Kia Picanto X-Line.

In standard guise the Picanto is a very likeable little city car with plenty to recommend it. Its transformation into a miniature crossover amounts to little more than delving into the off-road dressing-up box, however.

The only substantial change is a 15mm hike in ride height. If you were hoping for power to the rear axle or even a clever grip-control system for the front tyres, you will come away sadly disappointed. Even the shiny 16-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in 45-profile road rubber rather than toothy mud-and-snow tyres.

Kia Picanto X-Line rear quarter

For a tiny car that’s actually capable of scampering through the scenery, I’d recommend a Panda 4x4, which can do a remarkable impression of a mountain goat. Though to be fair to the Picanto, the Panda 4x4 is also noticeably more expensive.

At least the Picanto’s modest visual overhaul is neatly done. The chunky X-Line add-ons must have been kept squarely in mind when the standard Picanto was first chiselled into shape, in Kia’s European studio in Frankfurt.

Kia Picanto X-Line side view

The added plastic wheelarch cladding, for example, fits cleanly up against the rear door’s cutline without any awkward overlap or untidiness, which is more than can be said for some purpose-built crossovers.

Lower door mouldings, black plastic corners and sills, angular bumpers with the suggestion of skid plates front and rear, plus some splashes of exuberant lime green colour complete the X-Line picture.

Kia Picanto X-Line headlamp and grille

Inside, the main reminder of the car’s X-Line status is some citrus-shaded stitching. Many of the surfaces in the example I tried were also a paler grey than you might find across the rest of the range. White plastic accents and bright stainless-steel pedals aim for a modern, high-tech vibe inside.

X-Line cars also enjoy grey faux leather upholstery that is reasonably convincing to the touch and feels pretty comfortable to sit on.

Kia Picanto X-Line front interior

The raised X-Line suspension fights a soft-versus-hard battle with the big wheels and tyres, resulting in a more nervous feel than I remember from other varieties of Picanto.

There’s a central 7-inch touchscreen that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay but thankfully doesn’t incorporate the ventilation controls. Kia has wisely kept the heating in hardware, adjusted via a couple of those clever old items called knobs.

Kia Picanto X-Line dashboard

Like all Picanto models the X-Line comes with the reassurance of an electronic stability system fitted as standard, complete with differential braking on the rear axle to try to tidy up any over-keen cornering.

For the moment X-Line cars are available only with Kia’s 1.25-litre 83bhp four cylinder petrol engine, paired with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox. I haven’t tried the auto edition but it’s probably best avoided on account of its 124g/km CO2 rating. The manual car does rather better with 106g/km, matching other Picanto versions with the same engine and gearbox.

Kia Picanto X-Line tail lamp

Official consumption figures are also a match between X-Line and other Picanto varieties, so you won’t need to pay a great penalty for choosing the chunky styling.

In pure outlay terms the X-Line starts at £12,600 on the road, putting it close to the top of the range but a mere £145 above the more sporty-looking Picanto GT Line with the same engine.

I didn’t spend enough time with the oddball X-Line to deliver a full verdict, but on a brief acquaintance it seems just as cute and appealing as the rest of the Picanto range. If you like the notion of a crossover that’s roughly the same size as Rubik’s Cube, why not?

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