Tuesday, 26 January 2010

'New' Naza (KIA) Picanto: only for the fairer sex?

With an unorthodox tagline like "Guys love cars, girls love Picanto" I found myself warming up to the new Picanto facelift model a little warm and fuzzy inside, perhaps even a tad blushy....or have I even gotten myself in touch with my feminine side? I know, I shudder at that thought too.

But truth be told, this Naza reabged Kia is pretty (no pun intended) decent. Though having to make do with just a tiny 1.1 litre 4-pot with old-tech port fuel injection, common distributor coil-to-spark-plug-cables spark ignition system and regular throttle cable for fuel metering, this little hatch feels quite peppy on the move from the word go (till about 100km/h). Decent enough for town driving. The chassis also felt surprisingly solid, while the liquid-filled dampers gives very pliant ride around the city and suburbs, where it intended range of commuting are mostly destined for. Of course, like its i1o cousin, uphill task can be a bit of a chore, after slowing down to pick up pace again.

I can't give you the fuel consumption figure since I had hardly burned off past the fuel tank's half way mark. Sorry about that. But I reckon it would be as economical as the Hyundai i10 since both are 'blood' cousins in more ways than one. Supermini these days also feels more well screwed/bolted together. Such a feeling of solidity on the road can be appreciated by way of nicer planted agility (granted, the suspension setting is still on the soft side) and somewhat tighter body control. Even the steering feels okay with a nice weighting to it. Inside, you don't even feel cramped like you do in an old Perodua Kancil anymore. Shoulder room and elbow room are acceptable here in the Picanto and I am no horse-riding jockey.

The Koreans have indeed come a long way. This 'new' Picanto is a potentially viable alternative to the rather pricey (relatively speaking, of course) 'local' Perodua Viva. For a fact, that was mainly why the Hyundai i10 walked away with NST-Maybank Car of the Year 2009 Award in the entry-level car category.

Interestingly, my wife initially liked this car for its affordability, being a brand new car with manufacturer's warranty, less worry about costly unscheduled maintenance et al. For those with no hang-ups about Korean automotive brand or badge snobbery issues, imagine paying off for this car in four, maybe five years instead of seven. And for whatever the residual's worth after that hire-purchase period, the average damage in depreciation is say, a more manageable RM5k per year? Kinda makes great food-for-thought, financially speaking, yes?

Back to my better half again, she subsequently complained of lack of power after the few days of joint sampling of this tester, and also of bumpier ride than her Mitsu Colt Ralliart. Hmmm....so "Girls love Picanto"? Probably not all girls, especially women...

Related posts:
Perodua Viva Elite
Driven: Hyundai i10

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