Once again, the Naza Group is the first to launch a new model in the new year, with its Naza Kia Malaysia (NKM) unit today introducing the all-new Kia Picanto. This is the third generation of the compact Korean model which made its global debut in Geneva last March. Being a locally-assembled model (from Naza’s own plant in Kedah), it took a bit of extra time to reach Malaysia showrooms as some parts have to be produced locally.
NKM is expecting the new Picanto to be a hotseller and account for up to 50% of its total sales volume this year. One way that it will achieve that goal is by attractive pricing and certainly, with a price of RM49,888, it will attract first-time buyers as the monthly instalments will be affordable. Sure, the national brands offer products that are in the same price level but there will be people who want to own a car from a brand other than Perodua and Proton. NKM expects just 5,000 of the people looking for a car in the A-segment to choose the new Picanto.
“The Malaysian automotive A-segment market is one of the most fiercely contested segments. With the introduction of the All-New Kia Picanto, we hope to tap on this lucrative market segment and set the tone for our sales this year,“ said Dato’ Samson Anand George, Group CEO, Automotive Group, Naza Corporation Holdings Sdn Bhd.
Worldwide, more than 1.4 million of the second generation were sold. The Picanto has been a popular model in European markets (it would have sold in bigger numbers in Malaysia but stocks were limited in previous years) and one of the reasons has been its modern styling. So, for this new generation, the designers went for an evolutionary change which adds sharper lines with a rich cubic effect on its side profile for a more dynamic appearance.
The front end has been given a bolder look with a larger grille that visually widens the hatchback. It’s yet another interpretation of the corporate look which design chief Peter Schreyer started applying on new Kia models from 2007.
On either side are new bi-functional projector headlamps that provide strong illumination of the road ahead, with LED indicators and LED daytime running lights. To make sure that the driver’s intentions are noticed more clearly, there are also signal lights integrated in the door mirror housings.
The compact footprint of the car remains the same as before with no changes in body dimensions but the wheelbase has been stretched by 15 mm to 2400 mm – almost the same as that of the first-generation Rio which is one segment higher. This extension was achieved by reducing the front overhang by 25 mm and the benefit is a more spacious interior.
Inside the latest Picanto, Kia’s designers have refined the cabin, using new materials that give a greater sense of quality. The predominantly horizontal design adds greater visual width to the interior, highlighting the increased physical dimensions.
Taking advantage of the additional space available, the seats have been redesigned to provide better comfort. The seat height of the front row seats is reduced by 10 mm and moved backwards by 5 mm, improving legroom by 15 mm. The door trim panels have also been optimised so that front occupants get an extra 10 mm of shoulder room. Additionally, the restyled steering wheel has been moved 10 mm upwards to increase knee and foot room. Better insulation in the engine bay should also reduce noise levels.
The large ‘floating’ 7.0-inch touchscreen at the centre of the dashboard displays a navigation system with a 3D map. A compatible smartphone’s functions can be mirrored on the display using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition features. This gives users access to their smartphone functions via the head unit’s user interface to get directions, make calls, receive messages and listen to music. Other multimedia features include an audio remote control, Bluetooth and AUX/USB ports.
Cargo space is not a strong point in small hatchbacks so additional volume has been given to the new generation. For those who need more space, the backrests can be folded down to expand the volume to 1,010 litres. With a 60:40 split in the backrest, it’s possible to carry more luggage (or other gear) or people.
In the past, a car priced at under RM50,000 would not have many convenience features but these days, with competition so intense, companies are giving as much as they can. The new Picanto comes with standard features such as keyless entry, pushstart button for engine ignition, one-touch triple turn signal, auto light control, Rear Parking Assist System, and a safety power window on the driver’s side. Even the door mirrors can fold at the touch of a button.
The Picanto is small in size but the people it transports are still just as important as those in larger cars so its level of protection has to be just as good. To strengthen the structure, there is double the proportion of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) compared to the outgoing model. 44% of the new bodyshell is from AHSS (up from 22%), reducing body-in-white weight by 23 kgs while improving tensile strength by 12%.
The new bodyshell also uses more than 8 times the quantity of structural adhesive found in the previous model (67 metres of joins throughout the structure are now reinforced with the adhesive). Overall, static torsional stiffness has been improved by 32%.
Six airbags are standard and parents will be pleased to note that there are ISOFIX points for compatible childseats and rear seatbelt pretensioners for better retention during an accident. Needless to say, Active Safety systems include ABS and Electronic Stability Control to help a drive avoid an accident.
The new Picanto continues with the 1.2-litre Kappa MPI engine used before. This is a proven 16-valve DOHC all-aluminium engine with Dual CVVT. Its output is 84 ps with almost 121.6 Nm of torque which should be more than enough for to give the 983-kg car spirited performance. Economical driving with a 4-speed gated automatic transmission should take it far even though the fuel tank volume is just 35 litres.
For those who want to give their new Picanto something extra and sporty, NKM is again offering Kia ‘NOVUS’ accessory packages for all models. There are two packages exclusively designed for the Picanto, priced at RM5,618 and RM3,498. Manufactured locally (but to Kia’s quality standards), the packages include the NOVUS emblem, solar tints, sporty bodykits, as well as leather upholstery and a digital video recorder.
Check out the new Picanto at Kia showrooms nationwide. Locations and more information can be found at www.kia.com.