THE first Picanto was introduced in 2004. The second generation was unveiled seven years later, and has won awards globally over the years.

These awards include the iF Design Award in the “Transportation Design” category in 2011; Top Gear’s “Bargain Car of the Year” in 2011; and the Standard Bank People’s Wheels Awards for “Budget Buys — Affordability First” in South Africa for three consecutive years from 2011 to 2013.

Earlier this year, Naza Kia Malaysia, the official distributor of Kia vehicles in the country, launched the third-generation Picanto. It is the only new non-national brand in the local A-segment line up.

We spent some time with this new-gen Kia Picanto and were impressed by it. It is powered by a Kappa 1.2-litre MPI 16-valve DOHC all-aluminium engine mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. Resulting in 82hp at 6,000rpm and 122 Nm of torque from 4,000rpm.

Measuring at 3,595mm in length, 1,595mm width and 1,485mm height, with a wheelbase of 2,400mm, the A-segment hatchback has a 255L of boot space and 35L of fuel tank capacity.

Kia said this new Picanto was safer than previous models as it was built with double the amount of advanced high strength steel as before.


It comes with LED tail lights, rear fog lights

It is equipped with 14-inch wheels, LED daytime-running lights with position lamps, fog lights, auto headlights, LED rear combination lamps, a floating type 7-inch touchscreen audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Ready function, multifunction leather steering wheel, a six-speaker car audio system, electric folding side mirrors, and a keyless entry with push-to-start button.

Its core safety features include six airbags, a rear-view reverse camera, rear parking sensors, anti-lock braking system, brake assist system, electronic stability control, traction control and ISOFIX child seat anchor mounting points. It also received a 5-star safety rating from the European New Car Assessment Programme.

The third-gen Picanto is priced at RM49,888 without insurance and is covered by a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.


The Picanto’s headlamp.

The Drive

We found that the new Kia Picanto was a fun and interesting A-segment hatchback suitable for small families and people of all ages.

It has a youthful, stylish and modern exterior design, with a solid, safe and refined build.

The engine is powerful and can easily reach above the legal speed limit if one is not careful. The 4-speed automatic gearbox gives a firm feel when engaging its gears. It also switches gear smoothly, but drags a little when the car is driven aggressively.

The Picanto’s light-weight steering wheel handles precisely and provides detailed feedback of the road conditions. It responses quickly to the driver’s directives. The medium-hard absorber and suspension setting sits the car firmly during high-speed corners. It also absorbs most rough and damaged road conditions.

The interior is spacious, straightforward, well-built and solid. The seats have good support for long distance drives, even for a large frame adult. It has sufficient head- and legroom to ferry a six-footer in the front seats. However, if a tall adult occupies a front seat, it will be difficult to fit a passenger behind.


Powered by a Kappa 1.2-litre MPI DOHC engine mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission.

The car’s dashboard layout is simple and classy, the 7-inch touchscreen audio system is user friendly. The Apple CarPlay works flawlessly with the iPhone we paired. When the rear-view reverse camera is activated, guided lines will show up on the screen.

The engineers at Kia have done a great job to reduce the noise, vibration and harshness level of the latest Picanto. There was minimal wind and tyre noise during high-speed driving. As for the engine, it is quite noticeable during slow drives, but roars on high revs.

We managed to clock 250km in the Picanto. On an average city highway driving, it recorded 6.2 to 6.8L per 100km (L/100km). It showed about 5.1 to six L/100km after a cruise on a highway without a legal speed limit. After some full-throttle driving, the odometer displayed that it used seven to 7.9 L/100km.

Overall, we are impressed with how the Picanto has improved so much since its first generation was introduced. However, there are still areas that can be improved. It could be more comfortable if more soft-touch materials were added, especially at the door panel.

It would be ideal to have a central armrest installed and extra compartments to store away items. Since Picanto portrays a youthful image, it might also be a good idea that the A-segment hatchback come with more striking colour options to attract the younger generation.

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