March 23, 2015 @ 02:17 PM

Review: Kia Picanto 1.2 AT

Achingly cute, spec-ced beautifully and very nippy. The Kia Picanto really proves talent and beauty sometimes come in small packages. By Arvind Kumar

Achingly cute, spec-ced beautifully and very nippy. The Kia Picanto really proves talent and beauty sometimes come in small packages. By Arvind Kumar
Remember that bumper sticker from a while back, one would normally find it plastered on a Perodua Kancil or Kelisa which read – ‘When I grow up, I want to be a Mercedes’? Well, no car in my opinion deserves that sticker more than the Kia Picanto 1.2. I was going to meet a man down in Johor for our April ICON photoshoot, having tested a raft of big D-Segment sedans over the past two months, I wanted something small, agile and easy to park – the Picanto was all that and more.

Exterior (Score: 3.5/5) 

It’s less than 3.6-meters long and 1.6-meters wide but yet the Kia Picanto makes a strong visual statement for itself. Bold angular headlamps flank the Picanto’s streamlined ‘Tiger Nose grille’ at the front, while a rising waistline at the side lend the tiny car a hunkered down and squat profile. The rear sees LED tail lamps amidst tube numbers to exude a premium feel, as do the elegant five-spoke alloys. The whole lot combines equal amounts of cute-sy and brute-sy design elements which would make it applicable for either male or female drivers.

Interior (Score: 4/5)

The Picanto shines on the inside, the plastics feel good, the steering wheel and other touchpoint like the gearknob and door handles are tactile the touch. The seats are great enough over long distance and feature a really edgy trim design. The Bluetooth connectivity works a charm and the sound system is a pleasant surprise of great clarity and power, comparable to car costing twice as much. The best feature in my opinion are the silver trim inserts that are found on the dashboard and steering wheel – it’s more Audi then Kia in here and is definitely worth the asking retail price. 

Power and handling (Score: 3/5) 

It’s a city car so within context, it’s an able performer. The 1.2-litre four-cylinder is good for 86bhp at 6000rpm. While an impressive 120Nm at 4000rpm puts the Picanto ahead of Perodua’s Myvi 1.3 and Mitsubishi’s Mirage. The engine is a punchy unit, delivering adequate and zippy acceleration when in town and refinement while on the highways. The four-speed auto works effectively, shifts up and down is well timed and fuss-free, but on the motorway, the speed limit will have the engine spinning at 3100rpm which hampers fuel economy. However, the lengthy drive still returned an adequate 435km in total for the 35-litre tank.

The speed sensitive electronic steering in the Picanto works well too. It’s light and manoeuvrable in the city, weighted enough at speed to give this small car surprising surefootedness. One can effectively point the car into a corner, but as you would expect, this car is not about blasting round a B-road. That being said, body roll and understeer is all still capably kept in check.  

Tech and Safety (Score: 5/5)

The safety suite in the Picanto features six-airbags, five three-point safety belts, four-rear parking sensors, ABS with EBD, traction control and the engine immobilizer. I don’t think Kia has missed out on anything and the Picanto has aced all safety tests with flawless five-star record.


In short, the Kia Picanto the best non-national A-segment car I have tested so far. Its execution is spot on, the design is charming to say the least and the build quality and tech puts many cars costing much more to shame. It’s a small car that thinks it’s a Mercedes or perhaps and Audi but the Picanto definitely backs all aspirations up. 

Overall score: 15.5/20
Kia Picanto 1.2 AT
RM59,888 OTR with insurance
1248cc, 4-cyl, DOCH, VVT  in-line petrol engine 86bhp @ 6000rpm, 120Nm @ 4000rpm
4-speed conventional auto, front wheel drive
N/Asec 0-100kph, N/Akph, N/A/100km(claimed), N/Ag/km

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Topics:  First Drive

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