The Kia Picanto, has been a well-received city car produced by the South Korean manufacturer since 2004. The latest third generation Picanto has been on sale locally since early 2018, with promises in being the most versatile car in its class. All this comes with an exciting new design and a high-tech new cabin. Marketed as a city car, the new Picanto is proof that size is not a factor when considering the performance and convenience it brings. What makes the Picanto such a popular car? Read on as we delve into Kia's latest A-segment hatchback and conclude our findings.
Youthful and Exciting Character
Designed at the brand's centres in both Namyang, Korea and Frankfurt, Germany, the 2018 Kia Picanto brings a more youthful and energetic character to the A-segment. With the wheelbase extended to 2,400 mm and the front wheels pushed further out to the corners for a 25 mm shorter front overhang, this new hatch is better in looks as it is underneath.
At the front, the “Tiger Nose” upper grille design and the large grille below feature a glossy black finish with chrome trimming. Welcome add ons here is the projection headlamps with LED indicators and LED daytime running lights while the shark-fin antenna on the roof is a stylish replacement to the existing aerial.
The character of the new Picanto is defined by distinctive lines along the side skirts, shoulder and around the wheel arches, and sculpted body surfacing. What that does is a creation of a more confident on-road design and ‘stretching’ the car for greater ride stability. The new model actually adopts Kia’s wide C-pillar as a design motif, which stands more upright than the previous model.
The interior looks much more premium; the cabin is completely revamped. Inside the new Kia Picanto, the car’s dashboard layout has been moved upwards by 15 mm which provides greater knee and leg space for front passengers. In terms of interior space, there’s much more rear legroom than the predecessor. Not to mention, the whole look including the updated steering wheel and meter cluster updates and matures the new baby Kia.
Compared to the previous car, the dashboard layout has been centralised, which moves many of the car’s control further up into the driver’s line of sight. The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support which also includes an extensive range of features.
In terms of the little details, the Picanto’s new seats also features the same seat-base materials and construction found in larger Kia models, such as the new Optima.
We found this nippy hatch to be definitely built for the city and was able to tackle anything we threw at it. Its Kappa 1.2-litre engine manages a decent 83 hp at 6,000 rpm and 122 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Thanks to the practical 4-speed transmission, the Picanto is able to clock in 6.7 litres/100 km combined and the fuel tank capacity amounts up to 35 litres. When you put your foot to the gas, the 4-speed auto transmission does take some time to get up to speed but cruising at motorway speeds of 100 km/h is easy. Although untested by us, some reviewers have taken this pocket wonder close to 180 km/h.
The longer wheelbase and shorter front overhang of the car helps to reduce ‘nose dive’ under braking without stiffening the suspension during the drive. This has also improved ride quality and stability on all roads. In terms of NVH levels (noise, vibration and harshness) of the Picanto is greatly reduced, producing a quietest-in-class 39 decibels of noise when idle. It also records 68 decibels at a steady cruise.
In terms of ride, the medium-hard absorber and suspension settings is very handy during high-speed corners. In terms of handling, the Macpherson strut at the front and torsion beam at the rear points to a greater ride stability, and more enjoyable handling responses. On tackling winding roads, or highway, the car’s nimbleness allows it to navigate smoothly too.
Boot capacity of 255 litres (from 200 litres in the previous model) is class leading and its cargo capacity in total to 1,010 litres.
The rear seats now reclines from 25 to 27 degrees, which gives passengers a more relaxed posture. Also, with more prominent side bolsters on the rear bench, it adds comfort and support during corners.
The third-generation Picanto is the safest A-segment car Kia has ever made. The body is made up of 44 per cent Advanced High Strength Steel that adds up to its robustness. The tensile strength of the vehicle has improved by 12 per cent. Also, the new stronger steel has been used to reinforce the floor pan, roof rails and engine bay, strengthening the core structure of the car, making it a safe car despite its size.
Its primary safety features include six-airbags, rear-view reverse camera, rear parking sensors, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC). What is added to the package includes Traction Control (TRC), Hill-Start Assist Control and ISOFIX child seat anchor mounting points. Oh the Picanto also has a 5-star safety rating from the European New Car Assessment Programme.
As a whole, the new Kia Picanto has definitely improved over its predecessor by quite a margin. Among those it includes improved body control, more room interior wise, and it handles and feels like a car much larger than it is. One thing's for sure, the small Picanto is big on the stuff that matters most. We think this warrants a closer look when it comes to vehicle's in this class. At a price of RM 47,079 without insurance, we think it excels the closest competition.
Have you heard of Kia's Stinger? Click here to find out why it beats the competition!