Kia Picanto and Mitsubishi Space Star tested

Kia Picanto and Mitsubishi Space Star tested

In this comparison test, we will analyze two small cars with automated transmissions: the Mitsubishi Space Star and the Kia Picanto. We will discuss the features, performance, and overall value of each vehicle. The Space Star comes with a continuously variable CVT transmission, while the Picanto is equipped with an automated five-speed box.

Mitsubishi Space Star: Technically Outdated, Good Gearbox

The Mitsubishi Space Star is offered in the Select+ variant, featuring a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that delivers 71 horsepower. It takes 16.1 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h and can reach a maximum speed of 163 km/h.

Outdated Design and Features

The Space Star gives off a nostalgic vibe, reminiscent of the 1990s, with its flowery adhesive decoration, wind deflectors, and dirt flaps. Despite Mitsubishi’s attempts to update the car with stylistic changes in 2016 and 2019, the Space Star still feels outdated in terms of technology. The lightweight construction (937 kg) is attributed to the thin sheet metal used in its exterior and the simplicity of its interior furnishings. The car can comfortably accommodate four adults, with limited space in the back seat.

Performance and Driving Experience

The three-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine combined with the CVT transmission (referred to as INVECS III) results in noticeable noise levels. While the Space Star accelerates smoothly and quickly at lower speeds, its performance diminishes beyond city driving. INVECS increases the engine speed and adjusts the gear ratio to improve acceleration, but this process is more audible than impactful. The Sport mode of the gearbox allows for slightly better performance. However, the Space Star performs adequately in terms of driving experience compared to its other capabilities.

Safety and Additional Features

The Space Star lacks advanced safety features, even in the top version. The absence of assistance systems during driving and a braking system that requires a significant stopping distance from 100 km/h indicate the car’s outdated safety standards. The soft-tuned chassis provides some comfort over bumps, but it exhibits significant body roll and understeer in curves, reducing the expected agility of a small car.

Consider an Electric Alternative

Despite its limitations, the Space Star may appeal to buyers seeking an economical and easy-to-operate car with a five-year warranty. However, the price of the Space Star with a CVT transmission is 17,780 euros, which is considerably higher compared to the Fiat 500 Electric priced at 9,570 euros. The Fiat 500 Electric offers an automatic transmission and surpasses the Space Star in all aspects. Although its range is limited to 190 km, this may not be an issue for those considering the Space Star.

Conclusion: Is the Kia Picanto a Better Alternative?

To determine whether the Kia Picanto could be a more suitable alternative to the Mitsubishi Space Star, we will continue the comparison test in the next section.

Kia Picanto: Bad transmission, modern technology

Kia Picanto

Hans Dieter Seufert

The Kia Picanto GT Line is equipped with a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 84 horsepower. It competes in the GT line segment and offers modest performance figures, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 15.8 seconds and reaching a maximum speed of 172 km/h.

The Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) Dilemma: When considering the Kia Picanto GT Line, it is important not to base the decision regarding the transmission solely on expected ease of use or increased comfort. The AMT should undergo critical self-reflection to determine whether it offers a better gear-shifting experience compared to the previous four-speed automatic transmission. Kia claims that the AMT, featuring a single-disc dry clutch, replaces the conventional automatic transmission in the Picanto. The term “replace” suggests that the AMT possesses similar skills and advantages as its predecessor.

Fuel Efficiency Advantage: The Picanto AMT exhibits a standard fuel consumption that is approximately half a liter lower than that of the conventional automatic variant. In tests, the automated Picanto’s fuel consumption was measured at 6.0 l/100 km, the same as the manual transmission version. Therefore, improved fuel efficiency can be considered the sole advantage of the AMT.

Gear Shifting Performance: Once the AMT engages first gear, every subsequent gear change in the Picanto becomes a debauched experience. The controller unexpectedly reduces the throttle, resulting in the first jolt. Following this, the actuator opens the clutch, while the transmission control system deliberates on the appropriate gear pairing.

This decision-making process is leisurely, leading to a slow implementation by the transmission actuator. Once the gear change is completed, the clutch closes, often resulting in slow and jerky movements. The controller then restores the engine’s power and performance. Surprisingly, the transmission tends to delay downshifting, leading to late gear changes accompanied by additional jerks.

Mitigating Jerking and Manual Gear Selection: One potential method to alleviate jerking during gear shifts is by releasing the throttle when the transmission shifts. However, this approach requires anticipating the timing of the controls, which can be challenging.

Additionally, switching to manual mode may provide an opportunity to choose the timing of gear changes. If the driver possesses the necessary skill to tame jerking through precise gear selection and throttle control, they can still opt for manual mode.

Contrasting Opinions: Kia Picanto’s transmission performance significantly impacts its overall recommendation. Unlike the Mitsubishi Space Star, where the automatic transmission enhances the driving experience, the Picanto’s gearbox undermines an otherwise good car. Kia has made consistent updates to the Picanto since its launch in the Spring of 2017, including modernized infotainment and comprehensive assistance features. The Picanto offers ease of use, solid construction, and comfortable seating for four individuals. However, the noise level can be obtrusive, and the engine’s sound may become harsh at higher loads and speeds.

Conclusion: Considering its relatively up-to-date safety equipment, improved comfort, and lower fuel consumption, the Kia Picanto GT Line emerges as the less imperfect choice. However, AMT’s subpar performance remains a significant drawback. Ultimately, the decision to purchase the Picanto or consider alternatives such as the Space Star or Skoda Fabia should be approached with caution, considering personal preferences and priorities.

Opinion Poll: A survey regarding the preference for smaller cars and the use of public transportation in cities can help determine the suitability of the Kia Picanto GT Line:

  • Option 1: Yes, smaller cars like the Kia Picanto are ideal for urban areas and have improved over the years.
  • Option 2: No, larger cars are necessary, and public transportation should be used when required in cities.

Technical specifications

Kia Picanto 1.2 GT Line Mitsubishi Space Star 1.2 Select+
Basic price €20,230 €18,590
External dimensions 3595x1595x1485mm 3845x1665x1505mm
Trunk volume 255 to 1010L 235 to 912L
Displacement / engine 1197 cm³ / 4 cylinder 1193 cm³ / 3-cylinder
Performance 62 kW / 84 hp at 6000 rpm 52 kW / 71 hp at 6000 rpm
Top speed 172km/h 163km/h
0-100km/h 15.8s 16.1s
Consumption 5.1L/100km
Test consumption 6.0L/100km 6.4L/100km

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