REVIEWED: Kia Picanto 1.2 – Why It’s The BEST Value Car Out There Now! [+Video]

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You know I gotta say that among all the carmakers who’ve been making headlines recently, there’s one brand that’s certainly living up to its motto of having ‘the power to surprise’ and that of course is Kia. I’m quite amazed by what the S.Korean carmaker has been doing in recent times, and it just got better…

Quite recently, I was very impressed with the Kia Optima GT, a performance sedan that makes no excuses for what it is, even ‘sounding’ like a thoroughbred V8 rather than a i4. Check out what I mean in this short video:

Fast-forward a few weeks and here I am again, this time testing the smallest member of the Kia family, the Picanto. Now the Picanto model itself is not new, it’s been around for a number of years and has enjoyed some success sales wise, and in fact, like what I mentioned in this VW Beetle Sport article, I know of at least 3 motoring media who liked the little Picanto so much, they bought one after the launch and subsequent review. How’s that for acceptance?

And speaking of acceptance, here’s my quick first-impression video of the new Picanto, plus a 360-degree walkaround:

Now in its third generation, the baby Kia offers first-time car buyers an alternative to what would normally be a ‘national car’ purchase, and maybe that’s why the Picanto costs less than RM50,000 (no, really). But hang on, a Proton Iriz costs more than that. Hmm…

Residing in the A-segment and aimed squarely at first-time car buyers, Kia claims that the Picanto is the ‘biggest small car’ around, and they’re not wrong. Despite its diminutive external appearance, the Picanto offers a very decent amount of room inside it, and as far as the former is concerned, again, you can thank Peter Schreyer and his design team for making the car look anything but introductory e.g. “cheap”.

Aesthetics wise, the little Picanto makes a very good first impression indeed. Its ‘angry bird’ front facade houses LED daytime running lights, while the rear sports LED combination lamps. Its double wheel-arch design coupled with the concave shoulder-line affords the car an optical-illusion of sorts, making it look bigger than it really is, and that’s a neat trick. If it were purely slab-sided, it would look smaller. The rear doors that taper upwards toward the end, and the decreasing-width rear windows also add to this ruse. Very clever.

But Kia aren’t cheating, because in typical ‘inside out’ build fashion, the Picanto is surprisingly roomy on the inside for an A-segmenter. There’s more than enough space for six-footers to get comfortable in the driver’s seat, and millennials will love the gadgets that come standard such as a full-colour ‘floating’ 7-inch Touch-screen with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto Ready, that also houses the reverse-camera, as well as the usual AUX & USB ports to hitch your phone to.

In addition to keyless entry, a start/stop button and a multi-function steering wheel, active and passive safety wise, the Picanto certainly doesn’t disappoint. There’s 6-airbags, ABS & Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), ISOFIX and seat-belt pretensioners, all wrapped within a chassis and body made-up of 44% AHSS or Advanced High Strength Steel. Full specifications list is available after the photo gallery below.

However, tech jargon aside, the most impressive thing about the new Picanto only comes to light when it’s driven. Quite possibly, and with no exaggeration, this is the best A-segment car I’ve ever driven, period. It offers amazing levels of NVH suppression, it’s comfortable, quiet and reassuring. It doesn’t feel like a small car when being driven around, and despite having only a 4-speed auto, it’s a regular auto-gearbox and not a CVT, and that makes all the difference.

The Picanto’s Kappa 1.2-litre engine is good for 84Ps and 121.6Nm of torque powering the front wheels, and while that may not sound like a lot, it’s plenty for a car in this class, and again, like its motto, it has the power to surprise, especially when the roads are clear; it certainly surprised me…

Impressive for a little 1,248cc 4-pot isn’t it? The thing is, even at that speed, the Picanto still felt composed and more importantly, reassuring, protesting only slightly when faced with lateral cross-winds. With disc-brakes all round (ventilated in front) stopping power is also very good, while steering feel from the motor-driver power steering offers a decent amount of feedback, and is very direct.

Driven at more sedate (read: sane, legal, normal, etc.) speeds, the Picanto rewards with an extremely smooth and frugal drive. Despite our best attempts and extremely hard driving, we only used 1/4 of the fuel during a drive that would have emptied my own cars’ tank.

Needless to say, I think we were all quite impressed with this new offering from Kia, and coincidentally it just so happened that 2 of the 3 aforementioned media who’d bought the previous generation Picanto were on this media drive. I spoke to both of them in regards to how this new Picanto compared to theirs, as they would be the best judge of any improvements…

You’d think they were talking about Ferrari’s in the way they exalted about this third generation. I think the word ‘everything’ was used when I asked about improvements over the second gen Picanto, and one of them is already thinking about trading in his for the new one. Yes, it’s just that good.

So seriously, for those seeking a first car, or even a runabout addition to your stable at home, something that costs less than RM50k (RM49,888 to be exact), you really, really need to go have a look and test drive of the new Kia Picanto 1.2. Power to Surprise? Go find out. – Chris Wee.

Kia Picanto 1.2 Photo Gallery…

Kia Picanto Product Specifications:

Type Kappa 1.2 MPI CVVT
Displacement (cc) 1,248
Bore X Stroke (mm) 71 x 78.8
Max. Power  [Ps (kW)/rpm] 84 (61.8)/6,000
Max. Torque [NM (kg.m)/rpm] 121.6 (12.4)/4,000
Fuel Type Petrol
Fuel Tank (litres) 35
Transmission Type 4-Speed Automatic
Seating Capacity (Pax) 5
Body Type 5-Door Hatchback
Front Brake Ventilated Disc
Rear Brake Solid Disc
Front MacPherson Strut
Rear Coupled Torsion Beam Axle (CTBA)
Wheel 14″ Alloy
Tyre Size 175/65 R14
Spare Tyre Temporary Tyre
Head Lamp Projector Halogen with Auto Light Control & LED Daytime Running Lights
Rear Combination Lamp LED Type
Fog Lamp Projector type front, rear bulb
Side Door Mirror Electric Adjustable
Integrated LED side turn signal
Electric Folding
Body Colour
Outer Handles Door Chrome Coating
Instrumental Panel Trip Computer
Segment-type Meter Cluster
Sun Visor Vanity Mirror
Audio Floating Type 7 inch LCD Colour Touchscreen
Apple CarPlay & Android Auto Ready
Bluetooth, 6 speakers, Steering Audio Control & Rear View Camera with dynamic guideline
Air Conditioner Manual
Front Seat Fabric with Driver Seat Height Adjuster
Seatbelt Front : 3-Point ELR Type with Height adjuster

Rear : with Pre-tensioner

Key Smart Key & Keyless Entry
Luggage Rear shelf  cover
255 litres capacity
Windows Front and rear powered
Driver’s auto up & down
Steering Leather wrap upholstery
Motor Driven Power Steering
Min. turning cycle Radius of 4.8m
Tilt steering
Airbags Dual front, side, curtain
Child Anchor ISOFIX
Sensor Rear Parking Assist System with 3 Sensors
Speed & Impact Sensing Auto Door Lock
Vehicle Stability Management ABS, BAS, ESC, TRC
  Hill-Start Assist Control HAC


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