Parking at the local shopping centre next to a Mazda2 was a reminder of just how small the Picanto is, as it made the Mazda look like a much bigger car. For its size, however, the Picanto’s limited interior space is used efficiently.
The front seats provide better-than-expected comfort and support. Instrumentation is basic but clear and easily read, while the controls are all conveniently placed and simple to use. Seating three across the back, even if they are quite small children, is going to be a real squeeze. Adults will find the rear leg room is tight, but there’s good head room.
Boot space is also modest, however the split-fold rear seat adds versatility. It was disappointing, although not surprising, to find the Picanto carries only a tiny temporary-use space-saver spare wheel.
On close inspection there is some evidence of the budget focus, but for the class, it's solidly constructed, and the trimming looks smart and durable.
Spirited performance and involving on-road dynamics are key to the GT’s appeal, and the level of enjoyment this brings will depend on the driving environment. It is more of a warm hatch than a hot hatch.
The tiny lightweight body, excellent response of the 1.0-litre turbo engine when working in its broad peak-torque band and a background of engine and road noise – along with the agile, almost go-kart-like handling created by the sharp steering and a firm but controlled ride – tends to magnify the feeling of speed. Keeping the car flowing smoothly in stop-start traffic, however, requires frequent gear swapping and focus on the throttle response and clutch engagement.
Official fuel consumption is a pleasing 4.8L/100km. Operating in its natural environment, mainly around the city and suburbs, our car averaged a disappointing 8.5L/100km. That said, the GT’s fun-to-drive nature does not really encourage the light throttle use conducive to good fuel economy.