Kia Picanto hatchback

£8,345 - £12,545

Compact, attractive and fuss-free, the Kia Picanto is a great choice for anyone looking for a no-nonsense city car. However, there are plenty of appealing alternatives to consider, such as the Volkswagen up! and its sister models the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo. The Hyundai i10 is our favourite city car, and another strong contender in this class, so make sure you review all the options before you buy.

In terms of safety, the Picanto was awarded four out of a possible five stars by the crash-test experts Euro NCAP, and although it was rated highly for occupant protection, there was some concern over the level of pedestrian protection. Another black mark was the fact that electronic stability control is only available as an optional extra in some European countries.

The Kia Picanto is offered as a three or five-door hatchback, with the latter obviously more practical if you need a family car. The entry-level 1 specification is not very well equipped and only comes with a wheezy 1.0-litre petrol engine. So, if your budget can stretch to it, we'd recommend the 2 specification with the more refined and powerful 1.25-litre petrol engine.

An automatic gearbox is available, but it makes the car less efficient, so stick with the manual if you can. Kia also offers some special-edition Picantos, with smart trim and alloy wheels, but they're not really worth the additional cost and won't retain their extra value on the second-hand market. If you do a lot of miles and would like a diesel engine, you'll need to choose the larger Kia Rio supermini, as diesel power isn't available in the Picanto.