Gone were the days when some cheap variants were offered with unpainted bumpers and steel wheels while others don’t even come with tachometer, power steering, central locking, or even a radio.
Taking note of this, Perodua has gone all out with chock-full of features and over-the-top styling for the third-generation Myvi. The compact car, which was launched in mid-November last year, became a massive hit among Malaysians.
As of February 5, 2018, the new Myvi had racked up over 48,000 bookings and deliveries are close to 20,000 units. About 83% of bookings for the new Myvi are for the 1.5-litre variants.
While Malaysian car buyers have voted loud and clear with their money, there are always alternatives to check out as automakers continue to spice up the market with increasingly attractive machines.
One example is the new Kia Picanto, also in its third generation, which had a global premiere at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. In January, the new Picanto was launched in Malaysia in only one trim, the 1.2-litre EX automatic at RM49,888 on-the-road without insurance.
This time, we pit the new Picanto against the 1.3-litre Myvi (Premium X variant) priced at RM48,300 on-the-road without insurance. Both cars have a 5-year warranty; with unlimited mileage for the Picanto and 150,000km (whichever is first) for the Myvi.
As for design, it's nasi lemak (fragrant coconut milk rice) versus a joint kimchi-sauerkraut concept on the global stage. While its underbody still has a Daihatsu platform, the new Myvi has a distinctly Malaysian flavour as a Perodua team designed the entire upper body, which looks sleek and aerodynamic.
During its development, the Perodua design team also benchmarked the new Myvi against the Honda Jazz, Suzuki Swift and Volkswagen Polo.
Meanwhile, the new Picanto came from the creative juices at Kia’s design centres in Namyang, Korea and Frankfurt, Germany where the mandate was to produce a bold and fun-looking urban city car with an assertive stance.
Legroom & cargo storage
Now, size-wise, the Picanto is a smaller car than the Myvi and this is really obvious when you look at the rear legroom in both cars.
The Picanto has limited rear legroom while the Myvi offers an amazing amount of leg stretching space.
Regarding the cars' dimensions, the smaller Picanto has a length of 3,595mm; width of 1,595mm; height of 1,485mm; and wheelbase of 2,400mm.
The Myvi has a length of 3,895mm; width of 1,735mm; height of 1,515mm; and wheelbase of 2,500mm. Simply put, the Myvi is longer, wider and taller.
As for rear cargo space, the Myvi wins again with 277 litres (Picanto offers 255 litres).
Let's look at the powertrains; the Picanto has a 1,248cc MPI (multi-point injection) engine producing 84ps and 122Nm of torque while the Myvi has a 1,329cc dual-VVTi (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) engine with 95ps and 121Nm of torque.
On the new Myvi, the 1.3-litre engine here is shared with the Perodua Bezza.
Like the 1.5-litre Myvi engine, this 1.3-litre unit is also a 4-cylinder aluminium block with dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing - intelligence).
Both the Myvi and Picanto use a 4-speed automatic gearbox.
Obviously, while both cars produce similar torque levels, the Myvi has more power. Both cars also have similar kerb weight, at close to a tonne.
However, this doesn't mean the Picanto is a laggard in acceleration and perfomance.
On the contrary, the Picanto has a well-tuned powertrain that's perky and eager to respond, and it is definitely not inferior to the Myvi.
The Myvi also provides a pleasant drive, with smooth and steady acceleration.
Performance & Fuel Economy
Still, with the added displacement, the Myvi's engine does not need to run at higher revs (compared with the Picanto), and we noted that on the highway at 80kph, the tachometer needle hovered around 1,900rpm.
At 90kph, the tachometer needle on the Myvi was at 2,100rpm. At 100kph, the Myvi's needle hovered at the 2,400rpm mark and at 110kph, it was at 2,700rpm.
The Picanto's engine has to work harder and rev higher (compared with the Myvi), and on the highway at 80kph, the tachometer needle hovered at 2,300 to 2,400rpm.
At 90kph, the tachometer needle on the Picanto was at 2,600 to 2,700rpm. At 100kph, the Picanto's needle hovered at the 2,900rpm mark and at 110kph, it was at 3,250rpm.
Meanwhile, the idling-stop system is quite smooth on the Myvi - the engine start-stop is not abrupt or rough when the car is at a standstill, or when you ease your foot off the brake pedal. It's so smooth that most of the time, you hardly notice the engine start-stop in operation.
With Eco Idle engine start-stop technology, the 1.3-litre Myvi can achieve 21.1km per litre.
As for the Picanto, its fuel economy is rated at 14.7km per litre or 6.8 litres per 100km.
Comfort and safety features
The new Myvi is impressively kitted, with standard features including LED headlamps with Follow Me Home function and manual levelling, Auto-off headlamps, LED rear combination lamps, acoustic windshield glass as well as push-start ignition and keyless entry, and 4 audio speakers.
Extra features on this 1.3-litre Premium X variant include powered retractable wing mirrors, a Bluetooth head unit, leather-clad steering with audio and call receiver controls, chrome door outer/inner handles, and detachable rear seat headrests.
Still, the Picanto outshines the Myvi here and is clearly better equipped as it adds a stylish floating-type 7-inch LCD touchscreen with Apple Carplay/Android Auto, mated to 6 audio speakers and a reverse camera with dynamic guide lines.
The Picanto also has automatic headlamps and LED daytime running lights, although it does not use LED headlamps (it has projector halogen headlamps).
Regarding safety, standard across all Myvi variants are 4 airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRC), ISOFIX child seat anchors, and seat belt reminder (for all seats).
Extra kit here on this 1.3-litre Premium X variant include Hill-start Assist (HSA) and front corner sensors.
Still, the Picanto is the better equipped here with 6 airbags, and all-round disc brakes.
Utility and storage space
The Myvi is also better designed with regards to interior storage. Also, there are three USB ports (including one on the side of the driver's seat, for the convenience of rear occupants).
On the Myvi, there are storage bins on every door (for items like water bottles), two front seat-back pockets, two shopping or "teh tarik (pulled tea)" bag hooks on each front seat-back, and a anti-theft handbag hook on the side of the front passenger seat. Each hook is designed to hold a maximum of 3kg.
On the Myvi, the dashboard layout looks clean, especially with a digital screen and push buttons for air-conditioning control.
However, where fit and finish is concerned, there is still room for improvement (it's a very minor niggle; for example, the plastic trim for the engine lid release/opener was not fitted properly).
On the Picanto, only the front doors have storage bins and there's only one front seat-back pocket. There's also only one USB port and conventional rotary knobs for the air-conditioning controls.
As for fit and finish, the Picanto is the winner again, with plastics and materials that look higher-quality (compared with the Myvi) and pleasant to touch.
The interior does not feel cheap at all, and everything is well-screwed and fitted nicely.
Stylish large, vertical air vents at either end of the Picanto's front compartment lend a sporty appearance.
Ride and handling/drive quality
The Picanto is definitely the better car with regards to driving refinement, and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness).
Both cars run on 175/65 R14 tyres, with the Myvi standing on Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 tyres and the Picanto shod with Nexen N'blue HD Plus tyres.
The Picanto's MDPS (motor-driven power steering) has a more direct feel, and is more chatty, well-tuned compared with the Myvi's EPS (electric power steering) which feels numb and vague.
Regarding drive quality, the Picanto is also better as it feels very planted at higher speeds, and deals well with irregular surfaces and badly maintained roads.
In the corners, the Picanto is also more composed and body roll is better controlled.
The Myvi feels more softly sprung, and a bit more "floaty" at higher speeds. There's also more engine, wind and road noise intrusion into the Myvi's cabin. The Picanto is defnitely the more solid, quiet and refined car to be seated in.
The Picanto provides a more enjoyable drive, and is better equipped with 6 airbags, and all-round disc brakes, and 7-inch LCD touchscreen mated to 6 audio speakers and a reverse camera with dynamic guide lines. The interior of the Picanto also feels nicer and higher quality.
However, the Myvi provides more legroom, bigger storage space, and is also attractively packaged with powerful LED headlamps, useful interior storage options, and 3 USB ports.
The Myvi also has the more powerful engine, and fuel-saving idling engine start-stop technology, and is a well-packaged car for the daily commute.
To pick a winner, it's a tough call as both cars are very well engineered and generously kitted (in the entry-level segment).
The emotional side would tell us to pick the Picanto as this little car offers sportier drivability, better infortainment system and handling, while a more practical mind would select the Myvi 1.3.
For the family with kids and luggage tranport needs, the Myvi would be the more obvious choice while for single/younger buyers, the Picanto would be quite an attractive option.
But in our final tally, the Picanto wins as by paying an extra RM1,588 - you get a fair bit of extra kit, and a more refined and enjoyable drive. — THOMAS HUONG and RIZAL JOHAN / Photos by MOHD SAHAR MISNI
2018 Kia Picanto 1.2L EX
Engine: 1,248cc Kappa MPI (multi-point injection), DOHC
Max Power: 84ps at 6,000rpm
Max Torque: 122Nm at 4,000Nm
Gearbox: 4-speed automatic
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 14.7km per litre or 6.8 litres per 100km
Rear cargo area: 255 litres
Fuel tank: 35 litres
Kerb weight: 983kg
Comfort features: Projector halogen headlamps, automatic headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED rear combination lamps, front and rear fog lamps, powered adjustable wing mirrors, push-start ignition, keyless entry, 7-inch LCD touchscreen, Apple Carplay/Android Auto ready, 6 audio speakers, Bluetooth/MP3/USB head unit
Safety features: 6 airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control (TRC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), rear parking sensors, rear view camera with dynamic guide lines, ISOFIX child seat anchors, all-round disc brakes
Price: RM49,888 on-the-road without insurance (inclusive of GST)
Warranty: 5-years, with unlimited mileage and FLC (Family-like Care) which includes free multi-point inspection and car wash during vehicle service
2018 Perodua Myvi 1.3L (Premium X)
Engine: 1,329cc 1NR-VE, 4-cylinder, DOHC, dual-VVTi
Max Power: 95ps at 6,000rpm
Max Torque: 121Nm at 4,000Nm
Gearbox: 4-speed automatic
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 21.1km per litre (with Eco Idle system)
Rear cargo area: 277 litres
Fuel tank: 36 litres
Kerb weight: 985kg
Comfort features: LED headlamps with Follow Me Home function and manual levelling, Auto-off headlamps, LED rear combination lamps, powered adjustable wing mirrors, acoustic windshield glass, push-start ignition, keyless entry, 4 audio speakers, Bluetooth/MP3/USB head unit
Safety features: 4 airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRC), Hill-start Assist (HSA), reverse sensors, front corner sensors, ISOFIX child seat anchors, front disc brakes and rear drum brakes
Price: RM48,300 on-the-road without insurance (inclusive of GST)
Warranty: 5-years or 150,000km (whichever is first)