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  • Kia's trademark grille fits into a large bumper which stretches forward, aiding its pedestrian impact rating
  • Rear lights curve around the boot opening and taper to a point at the rising hip line
  • Rear doors blend well into this five-door Picanto’s boxy shape
  • Headlights stretch almost all of the way along the bonnet
  • The steering wheel appears as though it is smiling back at the driver
  • Driving position is relatively upright but comfortable; space is respectable
  • Rear bench can seat two adults, just; access is better than in some rivals
  • Boot space is a useful 200 litres, expanding to 605 with the rear seats folded
  • Unlike the slightly tacky audio controls, the ventilation and heater switchgear contributes to the Picanto’s more grown-up feel
  • No frills here, so dials are simple but clear. However, a 70mph marker would be a welcome, and presumably inexpensive, addition
  • The Kia 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine is a strong, compact and willing powerplant
  • The Kia responded best to smooth inputs, but it allows a good degree of slip at the rear even with the ESP on
  • It says a lot for the Picanto’s grip that it bettered the faster Suzuki Alto on our dry track.
  • For all the body roll that its soft springs allow, the Picanto’s skinny tyres cling on well
  • The Picanto remains impressively stable and predictable almost regardless of how much abuse you subject it to
  • In the wet there’s a tad more drama if you really push the Kia’s limits

Step inside the Picanto and there are a couple of things you’ll note straight away. First is the silvered highlight of the steering wheel – a big, gaping mouth that could become a Kia styling trademark but we rather hope it does not.

Second, and particularly if you’re familiar with the old Picanto, is a sense of much-improved material quality and fit and finish. Yes, you can see areas where costs have been cut. Nearly everywhere. But the material choices are, at worst, entirely consistent with the class and, in places, better. You’ll be searching a long while for soft-feel plastics, but you won’t be disappointed by any overtly brittle finishes.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
We like the fact that the whole driver’s seat rises when adjusted, rather than just the squab

Switchgear is light but positive, as are the major controls, and ergonomics are sound. In keeping with most cars in this class, there isn’t a legion of switchgear to navigate, but what buttons it has are properly located and operate as they should.

The cabin is respectably spacious. Like the i10, the Picanto encourages its driver into a relatively upright position – think kitchen chair rather than sofa. This gives good visibility and allows for more cabin space within a given interior length (although it’s not as tall as the i10). As a result, it’s possible to fit two average-sized adult passengers in the rear.

A modern 3.6m-long car is never going to be overly capacious, but it is fine for shorter journeys and leagues better than, say, the Peugeot 107 and its sister models. It’s also easier to reach in and out of the back seats of the Picanto than it is in the likes of the 107 – worth remembering if you’re trying to place a small child back there.

The boot is a useful size and shape, too. Even with the split and folding back seats upright and in place, it has a respectable capacity of 200 litres.

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