2009 Kia Picanto: Baguio Banzai Blitzer
- Lester Dizon () - July 1, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Two weeks before the 15th Annual Motorcycle Convention, I had to drive up to Baguio City with my wife, Shawie and Adrelino “Tix” Villena, who were helping organize the activities for the convention. Since we were rushing the closing of Motorcycle Magazine (Which Lester edits. – Ed.) and preparing for the event, we decided to drive up before sunrise, hold several meetings from 9AM to about 3PM and then head back to Manila afterwards. It was really a banzai run to Baguio and back. Fortunately, we had a 2009 Kia Picanto at our disposal.

At around 4:30AM on April 27, we picked up Tix from his Quezon City residence and he chuckled at the little economy car that my wife and I were driving. He was hoping for a bigger sedan or an SUV since we were going to traverse the expressways on our way to Baguio and he was afraid that the Picanto might not be suitable for our quick but long trip.

Impromptu Econo Drag Race

We took the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and then drove into the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), which exited at Tarlac City. A black economy car of a different brand and driven by a young man was trying to race us after we got out of the expressway, and it only went past us when we got to Moncada, Tarlac after its driver turned off their car’s aircon and opened their windows. Actually, I could’ve out drag-raced them in the Picanto even with the A/C on but my wife asked me to let them pass, lest we get into an accident. At that point, Tix was becoming impressed with the Kia’s performance.

We drove thru Tarlac and into Pangasinan until we reached Urdaneta at around 6:15AM. We stopped for breakfast at a Jollibee outlet there, since it was the only franchise that opened early, and then resumed our trip before 7AM. We reached the Baguio Convention Center before 8:30AM, with a lot of time to spare before our first 9AM meeting. Tix was visibly impressed with the speed of our trip up to Baguio, which only took us less than three and a half hours, compared to the usual 5 to 6 hours. He was even more impressed that we did it in a 1.1-liter, automatic transmission-equipped, factory-stock Kia Picanto.

New Rounded Look

The Picanto was first introduced in 2004 as a no-frills, basic transportation unit that underwent a metamorphosis in 2008 and became more than just an affordable econocar. Its European-influenced design is augmented by new rounded headlamps and stylish grille, rounded tail lamps, new wheel covers and aerodynamic side mirrors. Inside, the Picanto retains its roomy and airy interior, generous glass areas and easy ingress and egress. The front seats are sculptured to offer some support during cornering while the rear seatback folds down in a 60-40 split to increase the cargo space. Despite the numerous styling changes, the frugal and efficient 1100cc SOHC fuel-injected four-cylinder was retained and it works effectively with the 4-speed auto gearbox.

We stayed in Baguio City a little longer than planned because we had additional meetings. By 5PM, we left the Petron station near the Marcos Highway and started our drive back to Manila. By 9PM, the three of us were having dinner at Teriyaki Boy on Tomas Morato, Quezon City and we were discussing the outcome of our meetings. At one point, our discussion veered towards our banzai blitz, where Tix was so impressed with the performance of our Picanto, especially after he found that it returned an average of 14.5 kilometers per liter on the way up to Baguio and almost 17 km/L on the way down.

Our Baguio banzai blitz proved that the 2009 Picanto is not only an efficient and frugal economy car, which is ideal for these financially-worrying times, but it is also a fast and capable highway flyer that lives up to Kia Motor’s slogan, “The Power to Surprise”.

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