Expert Review - Kia Picanto JA (2018-Present)
9 March 2018
As the only non-national car under RM50,000, the Kia Picanto is a solid alternative to the Perodua Myvi and Proton Iriz. It's well equipped and has a quality of ride and refinement that is head and shoulders above its peers, all while being better to drive than the previous model - only the lack of interior space is a letdown. It also now comes with autonomous emergency braking, which makes it one of only two vehicles in the price range to have it (the other being the Myvi).
The Picanto soldiers on with the same 1.2 litre engine as before, which remains effervescent once you get going but can be a little breathless at low revs. Four-speed auto not the smoothest or quickest out there, but gets the job done with minimal fuss. No manual option this time, which is a shame.
Ride & Handling
Kia has fixed the few dynamic flaws of the previous Picanto. The steering is quicker and feels more in tune with what the front end is doing, and it also has better body control at higher speeds. The brake pedal is more progressive as well, making it easier to drive smoothly.
Refinement is even better this time around, with very little road, wind and engine noise at the highway speed limit - this really feels like a car from a segment or two above. The firm but cosseting ride also strikes a firm balance between absorbing the bumps and keeping body movements in check, while the seats are now larger and more supportive - good for long distances.
The Picanto still has a respectable level of safety kit as standard, with six airbags, stability control, ISOFIX points at the rear and seat belt reminders for all seats. The new GT-Line variant gets autonomous emergency braking for both city and inter-urban speeds, a step up on the Myvi's system that only works below 30 km/h.
Overall interior space is just about acceptable, although the Myvi and Iriz are roomier for around the same price or even less. Rear legroom is at a particular premium, especially behind taller drivers, but there's nothing to complain about in terms of headroom. The boot is much larger now compared to before; however, you do lose the previous car's underfloor tray and the rear seats no longer fold flat as a result.
Equipment count remains high - for around RM10,000 less than before, you still get LED daytime running lights and tail lights, front and rear fog lights, keyless entry, push-button start and six speakers. Better still, the head unit has been upgraded to a seven-inch touchscreen item with a reverse camera and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, making it the cheapest car in the market with this feature. The GT-Line is RM8,000 more expensive but adds a whole host of kit, including a stylish bodykit, larger alloy wheels and the aforementioned AEB system.