Kia Picanto

COMPETITION IS keen in the small-car sector dominated by the likes of the Ford Ka and Fiat 500, but the new Kia Picanto  stacks up as an attractive proposition for those seeking budget motoring.

• Kia Picanto – budget car you can be proud of

Entry level models of the Kia Picanto start at £7,795 for three-door models with minimal kit but the higher-spec versions are better value. You get a choice of a 1.0-litre 68 hp or 1.25-litre 84 hp petrol engine – most buyers will choose the latter, which has a top speed of 106 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 11 seconds and a combined fuel figure of 60.1 mpg.

There are also ultra- economical versions called EcoDynamics, which offer higher mpg  (67 mpg combined) lower road tax, start-stop system and lower insurance groups. But these versions do cost more so you need to do the maths to work out the potential savings.

My test version was the 1.25-litre Picanto 5-door EcoDynamics in level 2 trim, costing £10,195.

The Picanto has sharp, cool looks which give it younger-driver appeal, and as with all Kia models, it comes with the company’s outstanding 7-year warranty, a big plus point.

The new model is longer than the previous one and provides more occupant space, especially in the rear. Boot space is also improved by some 25 per cent, giving 200 litres with the rear seats in use, 600 litres with them folded.

With its kerb appeal and attractive user-friendly interior, the Picanto immediately wins you over and when you start driving, that impression continues. It offers sharper, crisper handing and a more comfortable ride than its predecessor. It also comes across as strurdily built and with a higher-grade trim materials, and you feel it’s a budget car you can be proud of.

Standard features on the test model include tilt-adjustable steering, Bluetooth (with voice activation and recognition for hands-free mobile ‘phone use), air conditioning, all round power windows and alloy wheels. You also get radio/MP3-compatible CD player with USB and Aux ports.

Overall it’s a good package on a car that’s good to drive and good to look at. In recent years Kia has been steadily building its UK profile and now has a range of cars which can compete with bigger-name manufacturers – the new Picanto is a case in point.

FOR: Charismatic styling, excellent fuel economy, 7 year warranty.

AGAINST: Hard to criticise, but I did think the steering felt a bit light at higher speeds.

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