Monday, May 28, 2012

Used Car Review - Kia Picanto (2004-2011)

Now wave goodbye to the summer season and you'll head back to school in a few week's time. You are in the hunt for the car to take on your daily grind to school or to school related events (which your parents must and should know). And this car must be something easy to squeeze in tight parking spots and has minimal dent to your wallet, plus it must be reliable at all times. Myk Belmonte finds the perfect college car.

2004-2011 Kia Picanto

With the acquisition of Kia Motors by Hyundai Motor Company, the two had vehicles that are co-developed or have counterparts with one another in the later years. Previous to 1998, Ford Motor Company had an interest stake with Kia back in 1986, which resulted for the latter to build the Kia Pride and Kia Avella (these are the Ford Festiva and Ford Aspire in North America respectively). But with the union of Hyundai and Kia, their vehicles shared mechanical parts and even some interior bits.

And one solid example of the sharing done by Hyundai and Kia is the Kia Picanto, which is based on a shortened platform of the Hyundai Getz (now you know). The Picanto was introduced in 2004 as a replacement model for the Kia Visto/Hyundai Atoz city cars. It also indirectly succeeded the Kia Pride in several markets (somewhat, this included the Philippine market). Engine variations include gasoline (in either Epsilon or Kappa flavors), diesel, and even LPG (Liquefied petroleum gasoline). It is sold as the Kia Morning (or New Morning in Vietnam), Kia Euro Star, and Naza Suria or Picanto in Malaysia.

Columbian Autocar Corporation brought in this city car under the Picanto name back in 2004. This vehicle started the mini hatchback craze (more smaller in size than the Honda Jazz) that led to the introduction of the Chevrolet Spark, Suzuki Alto, platform mate Hyundai i10, and even the Chery QQ. Some minor nips were done in late 2007 and 2010. Variants include a basic one and a spec'd one (with hubcaps) either mated to a manual or automatic transmission. This version stayed long until it was treated to a redesign in 2011.

Value and Costs
This car would set you back between P290,000-P595,000, with earlier models taking the lower spot while recent ones take the upper side. And a good thing for later models, they do have the remainder of their basic warranties. No need to pay particular attention with a certain year model, since no major changes had been done with the engine or any drivetrain components.

Maintaining a Picanto does not drain your resources or requiring trips to the ATM machine. With a fuel efficient engine and excellent parts availability, this is one good proposition. With these types of cars seeing more travel, best to check out replacement parts related to the mechanicals. These include the suspension bushings, braking system, power steering fluid, and other related components.

Exterior and Interior
You can either comment that the Picanto is cute looking or worse, over styled. And you can guess the design was conceived at the millennium year. It does not look old, its just you can guess the release date. With the first facelift, you can't help but to smile whenever you stare at it, especially with the rounded headlamps, and the diminutive grille. If you can, get this one in brighter color shades to reflect its cheerful personality.

The interior is bigger than you really think, especially with modern technology and ergonomics is infused that hatchbacks and sardines won't be mentioned in one breath, let alone a sentence (you know what I mean). Space is provided for four adults to sit comfortably, but five is a squeeze. The split folding rear seats has the capacity to bring the cargo capacity to double its size, which can be good for a month's worth of groceries, a mountain bike, or one balikbayan box.

A diminutive but capable G4H6 1,086cc having 64hp at 5,500rpm and 94Nm at 2,800rpm motivates the Philippine-spec Picanto. The G4H6 uses the Epsilon technology shared with the discontinued Hyundai Atoz. While the lower displacement and horsepower rating would mean slow, this engine can chug along all day without complaining.

Driving Impressions
Go inside a Kia Picanto, and you'll be surprised with the abundance of interior room and the countless standard features available. Climate controls are located strategically within driver's reach, while the audio system (a 1-DIN comes standard) - depending on the brand - can be confusing or easy to operate. Changing lanes is more fun, with a communicative chassis and dampened suspensions, just be mindful of the road debris and potholes.

Who said small is not fun? The Picanto debunks this notion with a go-kart like chassis, and a roomy cabin. Not to forget, maintaining one will dent a bit (except if that problem would cost more than a semester's worth of tuition) on your daily allowance and fuel expenses won't cost you an arm and a leg, plus parking is a breeze. The perfect college car, indeed.

The Good: 
  • Compact to park
  • Sips gas like a bird
  • Spacious than you think
The Bad:
  • Safety ain't a priority
  • Tight fit for five people
  • 1.2 Kappa engine not available locally
The Pick: Versions with the manual transmission

Engine: 1,086cc G4H6 I4 gasoline
Power: 64hp @ 5,500rpm
Torque: 94Nm @ 2,800rpm
Fuel Consumption: 11-14km/L (city), 15-18km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear torsion beam axle

Price (New): P290,000-P595,000 (range from 2004-2011)
Price (Now): P200,000-P420,000
Rivals: Hyundai i10, Suzuki Alto, Suzuki Celerio, Chery QQ, Chevrolet Spark
On Sale: 2004-2011

Kia Pasay - 852-1490
Kia Quirino Avenue - 564-7872
Kia New Manila - 721-8488

Photos courtesy of

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