They will have cost you just under 14 pence per mile. Exactly the same amount it would have cost to run a Kia Picanto 1.0-litre GS for the same trip.
There are plenty of cars that are cheap to run. Many are very economical on fuel, many depreciate very slowly, but there is virtually no car in Britain that can be driven for as little money.
With its tag as Britain’s cheapest car to run, you might think it comes with awfulness built in as standard and mediocrity an optional extra. In fact, the Picanto is a pretty good little car.
True, the 60bhp 1.0-litre engine gives the car acceleration barely worthy of the noun and it reaches 60mph after more than 16 seconds of rather wheezy effort. It’s noisy as well, particularly under full throttle, but the trade-off to putting up with the boomy noise is a car that manages 57.6 mpg on the combined cycle.
On a motorway, the noise can get wearing but on the whole, it tootles along happily enough, and is obviously more at home zipping from lane to lane in a city. The seats are comfortable and everything is efficently laid out, but there’s not a great deal of character about it.
But what would you expect for a price tag of £5,400? What about a CD/MP3 player? Electric windows? Central locking? Power steering? ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and all-round disc brakes? All of these are standard, which will tick most of the boxes for drivers looking for cars at this price. It’s pretty well-built as well and decently roomy for such a small car.
It manages a rather paltry three stars for occupant protection in Euro NCAP crash tests, while its Hyundai Getz cousin manages four. Mind you, it’s not alone among city cars – the new Fiat Panda also chalks up only three stars, as does the older Ford Ka and smart fourtwo.
But the Picanto is not an unsafe car – it’s one of the few in this sector to have front and rear disc brakes as standard and it has sprightly handling and grip levels commensurate with its 14-inch wheels.
The ride is a little ropey over bumpy surfaces but it is dependable, delivering everything you could expect of it.
Kia has been marketing the Picanto towards young people, particularly women living in cities. In that sense, it has got its target market spot on.
So it uses petrol at a very cautious rate, has low service costs and even manages to retain a very useful 40% of its value after three years/60,000 miles, although perhaps 20,000 miles in a Picanto every year would test even the most masochistic of drivers.
But for fleets wanting to run very cheap, easy to drive and practical small pool cars, or for rental firms wanting to offer a bargain, the Picanto has to be worth looking at.
Kia Picanto 1.0 GS
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value) £5,382
CO2 emissions (g/km) 118
BIK % of P11D in 2004 15%
Graduated VED rate £75
Insurance group 2
Combined mpg 57.6
CAP Monitor residual value £2,150/40%
Depreciation 5.18 pence per mile x 60,000 £3,108
Maintenance 1.79 pence per mile x 60,000 £1,074
Fuel 6.94 pence per mile x 60,000 £4,164
Wholelife cost 13.91 pence per mile x 60,000 £8,346
Typical contract hire rate £154
All figures based on 3yrs/60,000 miles. Monthly rental quote from HSBC Vehicle
THREE RIVALS TO CONSIDER
NONE of these cars are packed to the rafters with equipment, but most cover the basic elements for a driver of super-cheap cars. The Panda, the most expensive here, is the only one without a CD player and electric front windows – which would count against it in many people’s opinion. The Charade has two basic things missing – the rear doors. It’s the only one here with three rather than five.
AN unlimited mileage warranty makes the Picanto an attractive option, particularly as a heavy-use pool car. And with its basic little 1.0-litre engine, solid build quality, cheap labour rates and inexpensive tyres, the overall SMR cost of running a Picanto for 60,000 miles would be just over £1,000. The most expensive, the Daihatsu, is hardly dear but would cost £500 more over the same period.
THE Daihatsu Charade’s 1.0-litre engine and featherlight weight of only 720kg ensures it is the most fuel efficient, managing 58.9mpg on the combined cycle. The relatively hefty Picanto (981kg) is only just behind it, though, and both would use a touch over £4,000-worth of fuel over 60,000 miles. The Fiat is surprisingly poor in this area – it would use up a further £800 of petrol over the Charade.
WITH a predicted CAP residual value of 40% after three years/60,000 miles and an extremely low front-end price, the Picanto drops by the lowest amount per mile we have ever seen. At 5.18ppm, it would lose £3,100 over 60,000 miles. To put that in perspective, a decently specced new Ford Focus would drop that pence-per-mile amount every 500 metres! The other cars here fare pretty well, but even the closest – the Charade – drops nearly £4,000.
IN A sector where running costs are an extremely important factor in the purchasing decision, the Picanto is vastly superior to the competition. At £8,300 for three years/60,000 miles, it beats the Charade by £1,200, the Alto by £1,700 and the Panda by £1,800. It costs little in fuel, depreciates at a slothful rate and has low servicing costs.
EMISSIONS AND BIK TAX RATES
ALL four cars will cost the absolute bare minimum in benefit-in-kind tax, but for drivers counting every penny, the Picanto is again the top choice.
A 22% taxpayer would have to give the Inland Revenue £178 a year for the privilege of running their Picanto.
The Alto isn’t far behind at £195, while the Charade costs £204 and the Panda £213. Business motoring doesn’t get much cheaper than this for the driver or the fleet.
A COMPANY wanting to run extremely cheap pool cars would find all four could do the job but, for sheer cheapness combined with being a pretty decent car, the Kia Picanto is unbeatable. It delivers everything a budget car should. It might be painfully slow, but a fleet manager handing these out as urban tools to employees on a daily basis shouldn’t worry about that. It truly is as cheap as walking, and a bit quicker. WINNER: Kia Picanto 1.0 GS