Kia Picanto hatchback

£8,345 - £12,795

The Kia Picanto is one of many choices in the hugely competitive city car class. Like its rivals, it aims to deliver low running costs with a spacious interior and a character that makes it nippy and fun to drive around town. The Picanto comes with an unbeatable seven-year warranty and lots of space inside but in almost all other areas it's beaten by our favourite city car, the Hyundai i10.

It gets worse for the little Kia, as the three city cars made by brands owned by the Volkswagen Group, namely the Skoda Citigo, Volkswagen up! and SEAT Mii are also better bets than the Picanto – their design, quality and performance are all superior. As well as those four alternatives, it's also worth considering the Peugeot 108, Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo and the rear-engined Renault Twingo.

You have a choice between a 1.0-litre and 1.25-litre petrol engine when buying a Picanto. The 1.0-litre is available in two different power outputs, with the least powerful returning 67mpg. Its economy comes at the cost of performance, with 0-62mph taking 14.1 seconds.

The more powerful version of the 1.0-litre still feels sluggish, so we’d recommend moving up to the 1.25-litre petrol engine. It makes the Picanto feel significantly nippier than the other two options and in the real world it's capable of almost the same economy figures.

Even with the extra power of the bigger engine, the Picanto isn’t the most fun car to drive. The soft suspension setup is great at smoothing over imperfections in the road surface but it means the car pitches and leans heavily in corners. The Picanto is safe and predictable but it's a more compromised package compared to a rival like the Skoda Citigo.

The Picanto is available with three or five doors and, despite its size, offers a surprisingly spacious interior that can accommodate five adults. The boot detracts from the car's overall practicality though; it's well shaped but is actually one of the smallest in the class.

If you go for the most basic Picanto model, you get the rather gutless 1.0-litre petrol engine and a pretty brief list of standard equipment. You get a height-adjustable driver’ seat, front electric windows and a 60:40 split-folding rear seat but not a huge amount more.

Because of that, we’d recommend the Picanto in ‘2’ trim out of the five levels on offer with the 1.25-litre engine. This trim level features alloy wheels, body-coloured exterior detailing, automatic air-conditioning and heated door mirrors. Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted controls and electric windows all-round are also included as standard.

As a seven-year warranty would suggest, the Kia Picanto is well built and reliable. Euro NCAP awarded the car four out of five stars when it was crash tested – all models come with electronic stability control, hill-start assistance, ABS and ISOFIX child-seat mounts.