If you need a small car that can get you around town and that’s pretty much where the requirments list stops, the Kia Picanto SA is one of the best choices you can make, even 400 years after production ended. Here’s why, in today’s article.

Yes, the Kia Picanto SA comes from that period when Korean cars were more like washing machines on wheels, which you bought because they were cheap and that was it. We are in 2003, and if you don’t remember those times, let me help give you some hints: Daewoo Espero had just been launched, 4chan was born and we were enjoying The Lord of the Rings : The Return of the King and Matrix Reloaded. But the best 2003 movie by far was Finding Nemo, but nevertheless 2003 was a pretty good year . It’s just that we had a less pleasant event in 2003, because then it was the last flight of the legendary Concorde and the world had to bring a true successor to it and that’s how the Kia Picanto SA was born.

And maybe it didn’t run as fast as the Concorde, but the first Picanto really was a car ahead of its time and it’s an excellent city car, if all you’re looking for is a cheap city car.

Kia Picanto SA front almostcarreviews

It’s very cheap. Even in 20-23, in these times which look as troubled and empty as my eyes, Kia Picanto is a car that you can buy for 1500-2000 pounds and be in working condition and have working air conditioning and in this budget you are looking at 2005 – 2008 models, not a Golf IV brought from the siege of Antioch in 1089.

It is cheap to buy and cheap to run. I mean, after all, it’s a simple car with a 1 litre engine, as big as the engine I have on my 6 speed, A+ Energy Efficiency certification dildo. What fails tends to fail rarely and cheaply and the technology is simple enough to withstand even the worst UK’s urban areas have to offer.

You won’t believe how much interior space you have and how many storage spaces there are. The only real downside in the Kia Picanto SA is the almost non-existent boot, but if it’s a city car you don’t, in theory, need a boot that’s too big. I mean, if you have room for a Vanilla Ice CD, do you need more space?

If you want to buy this car for your learner daugther then you can sleep soundly at night because this car will never pick up speed high enough to be in danger of getting fined nor high speed crashing.

Kia Picanto SA side almostcarreviews

Kia Picanto SA Engines


  • 1.0 Epsilon G4HC of 61 horsepower – Even if it is the same engine as the 1.1 version, theoretically at 999 cc it is in a lower tax class and in this class of cars every pence actually counts.
  • 1.1 Epsilon G4HC of 65 horsepower – So I will talk in general about the G4HC engine. All in all, it is reliable and free of moisture, but the aux belt is made of chewing gum and will have to be replaced every morning.
  • 1.25 Kappa of 70 horsepower – Launched to retire the old Epsilon, the Kappa engine did its job with dignity just about everywhere it was installed. It only needs new coil packs occasionally but overall it is a reliable engine.


1.1 U-Line CRDi D3FA of 75 horsepower – A smaller version of the already stripped down 3-cylinder version (used on the Hyundai Accent) of the 2 litre diesel engine used extensively on the Kia / Hyundai group, from Tucson to Cerato to Carens. Sure, it’s as reliable as can be for its time, but do you really need a diesel Picanto? You won’t even hit 60 mph by the time you’re eligible for the pension fund and you won’t get around anywhere very comfortably, and on a long trip you are a sure victim.

Kia Picanto SA front side almostcarreviews

Kia Picanto SA Reliability Issues

  • The 4-speed torque converter automatic gearbox is reliable but needs an oil change every 4 years or 37,000 miles / 60,000 kms.
  • It’s not necessarily a specific or general problem with the Kia Picanto I, just that you have to be aware that a 1500 pounds car also has had some “creative” maintenance done to it. No one buys a car like this and maintains it “a la carte”. Plus, the sort of driver who owns something like this doesn’t care much about driving and doesn’t care too much if they hit a fence or curb.

Kia Picanto SA side 2 almostcarreviews

Kia Picanto SA Verdict

A small, reliable, economical “car” which is strictly designed for the city life. Surprisingly roomy inside, lots of storage spaces, non-existent boot and small and economical engines. It’s not the last word in terms of luxury, comfort or appearance, but for what it offers, the Kia Picanto SA is one of the best low-cost city cars on the market today.

Which engines do I recommend? For petrol you can choose any engine, but my personal pick of the bunch would be the 70 horsepower 1.25 Kappa and for diesel anyway you have only one 1.1 CRDi which develops a mighty 6 horsepower, so that’s that.