Small in size but big on surprises
DESPITE being accused of making slow progress in comparison to other booming nations, Malaysia’s automotive industry is evolving at a rapid pace and this colossal growth can be exemplified, rather ironically, with the little Kia Picanto.
Feature-laden is the best term to describe this plucky Korean compact. With six airbags, traction control, keyless entry and ignition as well as a host of other creature comforts, the Picanto’s list of features makes the spec sheets of some executive saloons sold just a year or two ago look inadequate.
What we are more interested in, however, is the drive. To our delight, the second-generation Picanto is equipped with a 1.25L Kappa power plant under its diminutive hood. Do not let its size fool you. The engine, which is shared with the Hyundai i10, is good for 86hp and 120Nm — substantial for a car weighing less than a tonne.
In this particular test car, the engine’s output is channelled to the front wheels via a conventional four-speed automatic gearbox. There is a cheaper manual option for buyers who want to either go easy on the wallet or be more hands-on with their gear shifts.
As a city-focused hatchback, the Picanto is near faultless. Its modest proportions and small turning radius make it easy to manoeuvre while the well- matched drive train makes driving a breeze. More advanced drivers may find the gearbox to be a wee bit slow but it does not detract from the fact that the Picanto is an easy car to drive.
Kia claims that the Picanto is capable of 5.3L/100km. In reality, we found it easy to keep the figure below seven under normal driving circumstances. During the times we decided to give the engine a run for its money, the Picanto’s fuel readings still refused to budge beyond the 8.5L/100km mark.
The Picanto is not as big a car as the Myvi, which means that it will not be challenging Malaysia’s darling hatchback where space is concerned. However, the cabin is roomy enough for two adults to sit comfortably in the back with a couple of bags stowed in the boot. It is worth noting that the Picanto’s cabin is slightly roomier than its sister car, the Hyundai i10.
At nearly RM60,000, the Picanto may not shout value for money, given that bigger Proton and Perodua cars can be had for much less. However, the Picanto’s equipment levels, refinement and grown-up ride and handling are nearly on par with cars costing twice its price, making this little K-Pop compact a great bang for buck.
The Picanto has a contemporary design that captures the attention of any age group.
Rear seat fits two adults comfortably.
Rear lights complement the front.