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Kia Picanto - best first cars for new drivers

The Kia Picanto is grown up thanks to a focus on refinement, but should still appeal to young drivers with sporty looks and great handling

Kia Picanto - front

The original Kia Picanto was a cheeky looking city car, but the Mk2 added a sportier look that became sportier still with the Mk3. But while the looks give it a youthful appeal, it's actually a very sensible city car choice. The Picanto offers a blend of practicality, reliability and good build quality to go with its new-found style. It's only available with five doors now, but you do get a choice of 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engines.

Longer, wider and lower than before, the latest Picanto offers big-car features in a small package, complemented by a driving experience that’ll make you think you’re driving a much bigger model.

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Two petrol engines are available – a 66bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder or a 1.2-litre four-cylinder which produces 83bhp. We'd recommend the former, thanks to its impressive mechanical refinement and rev-happy nature - you really don't get much benefit from going with the larger engine. The smaller engine is also more frugal, reaching 50.4mpg on the WLPT combine cycle. The larger 1.2-litre gets between 47.9 and 49.6mpg depending on trim. However, if you're a new driver that's flush with cash, you'll have to go for that engine if you pick the top-spec GT-Line S model, because that's the only engine it comes with.

Inside, there is a healthy amount of equipment available even from standard. Expect to find electric front windows, USB inputs, auto lights and hill start assist, while touchscreen sat-nav and infotainment is offered at the top of the range. Additional soundproofing and tweaked engine mounts and a new engine cover makes the Picanto much more refined.

Top 10 best first cars for new drivers 2021

  1. Volkswagen up!/Skoda Citigo/SEAT Mii
  2. Kia Picanto
  3. Ford Fiesta
  4. SEAT Ibiza
  5. Hyundai i10
  6. Volkswagen Polo
  7. Toyota Aygo/Peugeot 108/Citroen C1
  8. Skoda Fabia
  9. Dacia Sandero
  10. Vauxhall Corsa
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