Review: Kia Picanto 1.2 AT, mini in size, colossal in many ways [+Video]

The A-segment is a hotly contested segment not because the cars presented in this segment is cheap, but it is small, light, easy to manoeuvre, and it is a good run about vehicle suitable for city drive. We have today our very first A-segment test car, the smart-looking Kia Picanto.

Kia Picanto 001


Name Kia Picanto 1.2 AT
Segment A-Segment Hatchback
Engine 1,248cc 4-cylinder DOHC CVVT
Transmission 4-Speed Automatic / 5-Speed Manual
Price RM 59,888.00 (Automatic) / RM 54,888 (Manual)


The Kia Picanto shares the same underpinning as the Hyundai i10. Without any questions, the aggressive styling and specification of the Kia Picanto triumphs over the Hyundai i10 easily.

Kia Picanto 005

While there is shortage of manual cars in our market, Kia Malaysia has been generous to introduce 2 variants of the Kia Picanto, a manual and an automatic version. Both the automatic and manual variant doesn’t differ much in terms of specification, and both is very well specced. The automatic variant will cost you RM 59,888, meanwhile the manual variant will set you aside RM 54,888.

I am totally mesmerized by the looks of the new Kia Picanto. At first glance, I thought I am getting the Kia Rio for the weekend, because both the Rio and Picanto looks amazingly good and its look very similar (maybe that is just me). It may share the same DNA as the Hyundai i10, but there is totally no contest in the looks department. The Kia Picanto comes standard with LED rear lights and halogen projector headlamps with manual height adjustment. And I really like the LED strip of the rear stop lamps. Oh, if that isn’t cool enough, this A-segmenter comes with LED daytime running lights.

Kia Picanto 010

There is a few things that really I like about the Kia Picanto. The fluid parabolic swipe movement of the rear wiper really caught my attention here. I could glance at the wipe movement the whole day. The efficient parabolic movement of the wiper could make nasty water droplets a thing of the past. Also, all four doors close with a super reassuring thud. The doors do feel heavy and does make you feel that this little ‘Pikachu’ could serve its master for a thousand more years to come.

Kia Picanto 004

The large front bumper design suits the Kia Picanto very well and gives it a masculine character. However I notice that there is only one reverse lamp, located at the bumper. I am bemused by this arrangement, as the only reason I can conclude is Kia cutting cost on another reverse lamp? Perhaps some readers could come forward and enlighten yours truly on this one reverse light arrangement.


The red little hatch comes wrapped in 175/50 15-inch tyres. Yeah, the large diameter tyres suits the look of the Kia Picanto, but only if the rims could be a little sportier. Going around the front and rear wheels, eagle eye car followers should notice that there is also rear disc brakes, uncommon in A-segments. Thumbs up Kia!

Shove your hand on the chrome handle and open the door, you will be greeted with the usual suspects: plastic interior. The plastic interior does not feel cheap at all. Everything is very well screw and built. No squeaks, no loose bolts, and gaps. I am overwhelmingly impressed! You will notice the steering that resembles a smiling clown with big white(chromed) lips. Not the best looking steering, and to be honest I don’t like the looks of it. However, it is very functional as you can rest your hands at the bottom of the steering while cruising slowly. The automatic variant comes with engine push start button and keyless entry.

Kia Picanto 015

The new Kia Picanto is built to cater for the European market, hence you will find the turn signal lever on the right, while the headlamp lever on the left. With a built-in automatic headlamp, you don’t have to worry about not turning on your headlights during the night, a common sight among Malaysian drivers. There is also one touch turn signal to ease  lane switching.


I must say, lots of of heart and thoughts had been put together to design the interior. Say for instance the centre cupholders can be recessed with a flick of switch to make a large stowaway. You could literally put a mini flower pot on it! Driver and passenger side door bin is of commendable size and able to fit a bottle. There is also some little surprise especially for lady owners. The driver vanity mirror lights up one-by-one in a sequence, ala Hollywood vanity mirrors. Hmmmm, so the Kia Picanto practice favouritism?

Kia Picanto 026

There are a few things that is clearly missing in the Kia Picanto. Sadly, there is no centre armrest despite all the efforts to load the little car with all imaginable creature comforts. Also, there is no leather seats as an option, fabric seats is the only way to go. The only leather you get to feel is located on the steering and the gear lever itself, nothing more.

Kia Picanto 028

Moving over the rear seats, there is 3-point seatbelts with rear headrest. Rear legroom and headroom is good, so anyone not taller than 6-foot should be able to fit in just nice. The rear seats is 60:40 split and foldable. Rear boot space isn’t class leading, 200 litres to be exact. Lift the rear boot floor and there are built in compartments to store your safety kit and tyre repair kit.

At 100km/h tachometer stays around 3,200rpm, which is high in my opinion. On highway drive, you might need to push the engine a little for a more spirited drive. This is a compact car, so I can’t complain about it’s performance figures: 87hp, 120Nm of torque.

Kia Picanto 027

I took the Kia Picanto from KL to Teluk Intan and vice versa and manage to clocked around 340km in a single tank before the fuel gauge blinks madly at me. My fuel consumption reading is at 7.7l/100km, which is not that bad. With a small fuel tank (35 litres), you wouldn’t expect it to go pass the 400km mark.

The ride is pretty comfortable although the suspension is slightly on the hard side. Glancing around the Kia Picanto is an easy affair. Small things like glancing at the rear or to the C-pillar from within the driver’s seat while executing a side parking poses no difficulty as the windows is pretty large, something many European hatch fails miserably.

Kia Picanto 028

I am delighted that there is little to no wind noise when you are cruising. Road noise do creep in, but in a non-intrusive manner. Steering feels weighty which I like, but the opposite sex probably wouldn’t appreciate the heavier feel. It delivers driving confidence especially driving around corners and high speed manoeuvrability. But it is still no where as engaging as the old school hydraulic power steering.

If you are a first time car owner looking for a small runabout car, loaded with all aspects of safety feature, the Kia Picanto is the one to get. With hill start assist, electronic stability assist, traction control, 6 airbags, the Kia Picanto is rated with a 4-star Euro NCAP. The only gripe yours truly had is the steep asking price for this A-segmenter. Other than the price, the Kia Picanto truly stands out in terms of built quality, safety and equipment.

Needless to say, the Kia Picanto is undisputedly the ‘King’ of A-segment, judging by the amount of equipment and safety features it has. Here, we will compare the Suzuki Alto, Perodua Viva Elite and of course the recently launched Perodua Axia.

 Kia Picanto Perodua Viva ELITE Perodua Axia Advance Suzuki Alto
TypeDOHC 16V CVVT, 4-cylinder
(Kappa II)
DOHC 12V DVVT, 4-cylinder
DOHC 12V, 3-cylinder
DOHC 12V VVT, 3-cylinder (K10B)
Compression Ratio10 : 1 10 : 1
Max Powerhp/rpm91 / 6,00060 / 6,00066 / 6,00067 / 6,000
Max TorqueNm/rpm119.6 / 4,00090 / 360090 / 3600 87 / 4,500
Carburetion SystemMultipoint InjectionElectronic Fuel InjectionElectronic Fuel Injection Multipoint Injection
Fuel Tank CapacityL353633 35
Type Motor Driven
Power Steering (MDPS)
Rack and pinionElectric power steering (EPS)Electric power steering (EPS)
Transmission4-speed A/T4-speed A/T4-speed A/T4-speed A/T

McPherson Struts (F) / Coupled Torsion Beam Axle (R)

McPherson Struts (F) / Torsion Beam (R)McPherson Struts (F) / 3-Link rigid axle (R)
FrontVentilated DiscDiscDiscVentilated Disc
RearSolid DiscDrumDiscDrum
Tyres175 / 50 R15165 / 55 R14175 / 65 R14155 / 65 R14
Overall Lengthmm3,5953,5753,6403,500
Overall Widthmm1,4241,4751,6201,600
Overall Heightmm1,4901,5301,5101,470
Max Kerb weightkg950805850905 / 920 (+ full options)

brake assist,
electronic brake force distribution,
traction control,
stability control (ESP),
hill start assist,
front & rear parking sensors,
auto door lock,
impact sensing auto door unlock,

rear parking sensors, immobiliserbrake assist,
electronic brake force, front & reverse sensor
brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, rear parking sensors, ISOFIX
GradeRON 95RON 95RON 95RON 95


Definitely, only if it is slightly cheaper. For a small hatch that come close to this price range, I could get a proper sedan minus the safety features. What set this Kia Picanto ahead of the the other similar A-segment hatch is its superior built quality and the amount of safety kit.





  1. Left for reverse, right for rear fog lamp. That reverse light arrangement is common among conti cars in its class. Even Golf TSI here has that arrangement. A full reverse light and rear fog light would be an option usually.

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