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kia picanto preview this tiny is quite mighty

Kia Picanto preview: This tiny is quite mighty

Should an A-segment car be this good? Yes… yes it should

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

9 Mar 2018

Contrary to popular believe, Kia’s third-generation Picanto is really an A-segment car. This means that comparisons between this Picanto and the Myvi is highly inaccurate and anyone that tells you otherwise is wrong. This tiny Kia’s main rival really is Perodua’s tiniest, the Axia, and not poster-boy Myvi.

However, if you take a look at the car, read the brochure and notice the price, you can start to understand why the Picanto is perceived that way. And why this Korean city car should exist in a niche of its own, more so when it’s priced at RM49,888.

The new Picanto is a looker, but we already knew that. We knew it since Peter Schreyer took over styling responsibilities; all of Kia’s vehicles have benefitted from it. The new Picanto takes what’s good from the second generation and expanded on its aggressive outlook despite the body’s size remain eensy-weensy.

Exterior measurements of the third-gen Picanto don’t differ from the second generation, only that the new one is shorter by 5mm. The only increment in number here is its wheelbase, which has lengthened by 15mm to 2,400mm that offers more interior space.

But let’s not kid ourselves, the Picanto is as spacious as an A-segment car can be. The front passenger may enjoy ample leg room but the rear will only be ultra-spacious if you still stop in the kid's section. Having said that, there are B-segment vehicles out there that offer less real estate.

The interior decor is at best spartan. As with most modern vehicles these days, most of the multimedia have been moved into the touchscreen that juts out of the dashboard. More interestingly, the air-con vents on the side are designed vertical while the middle vents stayed with the traditional orientation of horizontal.

The responsibility of moving the entire bulk of the Picanto, which weighs less than 1,000kg, is the 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated engine that’s good for 83hp and 122Nm. Paired with a four-speed automatic, the Picanto takes off at a leisurely pace and gets up to speed eventually. When you arrive in the triple digits, your patience is rewarded 10-fold.

Kia has pushed the front wheels further out of the corners, giving the Picanto a wider track. And that means two things — 1. it is a hoot around corners, and 2. it’s stable at extremely high speeds.

When I say corners, I really mean the kind that you find in the old roads of the nation. The Picanto will happily handle any S-bends, hairpins and long sweepers you throw it into. The suspension is properly firm and the steering is highly responsive to your inputs, turning this tiny car into a very 'darty' thing with wheels.

On the highway and at high speeds, the Picanto remain stable and confident. The only struggle out here is its struggle to overtake at high speeds. What did you expect, the Picanto is doing all it can with a 1.2-litre engine and a four-speed automatic. Despite the speed, it is comfortable all the way. Noise from the engine, the wind and the road are sufficiently filtered out so you can carry conversations easily.

In the few hours that I had the Picanto for, I could understand why owners of the previous generations have raved about this tiny city car. Through traffic, highways and backroads, the Picanto have performed impressively with its European-esque ride and handling. Priced below RM50,000, the Picanto will make a great first car, or a second car, or a spare car, or a retirement car, or a…