Just like its Hyundai i10 cousin, the Kia Picanto has grown up significantly since it first graced our roads.
The latest car is certainly better looking than its predecessors but is also finished better inside and gains a decent level of standard equipment. It even scores fairly well on the ride and handling front, with the Picanto dealing with the scarred British roads better than some.
Admittedly, its 66bhp 1.0-litre engine does feel a bit weedy at times, but at the top of the engine range is the punchy 1.0-litre turbocharged three-pot engine – a trump card that not even the related Hyundai can play. In fact, there’s little that separates the Picanto from the i10, save their looks, equipment, that engine, and the fact that the Kia’s boot is slightly smaller. If you like what you see, or your Kia dealer is nearer, by all means pick the Picanto.
A quirky contender in this rather congested segment, the Ignis is a zesty car blessed with charm, value, space, versatility and fuel efficiency. The fact that it looks more like a crossover than some of its contemporaries do, meanwhile, does it no harm with market tastes being as they are.
It is brilliantly packaged, with a massive amount of interior space for its size. The interior looks a little bit flimsy and low-rent in places, and Suzuki’s touchscreen infotainment system leaves a bit to be desired, but if you don’t mind cheap cars looking and feeling like they’re a bit cheap in places so long as they’re fairly hard-wearing, chances are you won’t care.
The car’s on-road dynamics aren’t as sharp or refined as some rivals’. Performance is relatively strong, with Suzuki’s clever 12V mild-hybrid system adding torque just where an atmospheric engine needs it, and handling is fairly perky, although the ride can feel a little bit crude over bigger bumps.
It is possible to spec the Ignis with Suzuki’s AllGrip all-wheel drive system, meaning this car will go further off road than many of its rivals. That, added to the rest of the car’s appeal, makes for a surprisingly compelling and characterful package.