Kia Picanto hatchback

£8,345 - £12,795

The Kia Picanto is just one of a growing number of compact city cars that aim to woo buyers with a blend of low running costs, spacious interiors and fun driving characteristics. The Picanto's ace cards are its industry-leading seven-year warranty and genuinely roomy interior, but in all other respects it's outclassed by the Hyundai i10 – our favourite city car.

Meanwhile, that trio of VW Group cars, the Skoda Citigo, Volkswagen up! and SEAT Mii, are also more appealing, especially in terms of their design, quality and feel. There's also another related trio to consider in the shape of the Peugeot 108, Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo – as well as the rear-engined Renault Twingo.

The Picanto is powered by a choice of 1.0 and 1.25-litre petrol engines. The 1.0-litre engine (reserved for the more basic versions) comes in two states of tune, the least powerful returning 67.3mpg fuel economy, but taking 14.1 seconds to get the car from 0-62mph.

Unfortunately, the more powerful 1.0-litre isn’t much of an improvement. Instead, we’d recommend you stretch to the 1.25-litre, because not only is it more powerful, it's also about as economical in the real world.

The Picanto is far from the most fun you can have on four wheels. Its soft suspension soaks up potholes but means the car leans too much in corners. Overall, it lacks the sophistication of rivals such as the Citigo, but it is at least safe and predictable.

The model comes in three and five-door form. Despite its compact dimensions, it has a roomy interior that really can accommodate five adults. However, the boot, although well shaped, is one of the smallest in the class.

The basic Picanto is just that. Not only is it powered by the least potent 1.0-litre engine, but equipment highlights are little more than a height-adjustable driver's seat, an adjustable steering wheel, front electric windows and a useful 60:40 split-folding rear seat.

Our pick of the five-trim range is the Picanto 2 with the 1.25-litre engine. This spec features desirable touches such as alloy wheels, body-coloured exterior detailing, automatic air-conditioning and heated door mirrors. It also has Bluetooth phone connectivity, steering wheel-mounted controls and electric windows all-round.

The Picanto is a well made and reliable car with a seven-year warranty for additional peace of mind. Euro NCAP awarded it four out of five stars for crash protection, but all versions bristle with safety technology including electronic stability control, hill-start assistance, anti-lock brakes and ISOFIX child-seat mounts.