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Car group tests

Kia Picanto vs Renault Twingo & Hyundai i10

We see if Kia’s new Picanto can stand tall as the king of the urban jungle as it meets Renault and Hyundai rivals

In a world of giant cities, tiny city cars are becoming more appropriate. As urban roads clog up, downsizing to smaller models can help make driving in town easier, with modest dimensions allowing easy progress through congested streets and making parking simpler.

Best city cars

There’s no shortage of cars vying for your hard-earned cash, either, and the latest to hit the market is Kia’s facelifted Picanto. It’s a mild update on the affordable, head-turning urban runaround with an even more efficient engine to help cut running costs further – but it’s got a tough challenge to face.

We’ve lined up the mature Hyundai i10, which is practical enough to shame models in the class above, as well as the Renault Twingo, with its fresh, leftfield approach to the conventional city car recipe. Has the new Picanto got the beating of them?

All of these contenders come in under the magic £10,000 mark, so are cheap to buy and economical to run. Yet which of our trio of pocket-sized runabouts is king of the urban jungle? We took to the road to find out.

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Kia Picanto review

Renault Twingo review

Hyundai i10 review

Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which city car takes top honours in this test...

Head-to-head

Styling

The city car class is bursting with quality, so to stand out, looks matter. The Twingo fits the bill, with a cute but funky design and plenty of personalisation – including our car’s peel-back roof (above). The new Picanto isn’t radically different, but its sharp lines still appear fresh. In this company, the dowdy i10 isn’t going to win any prizes for style.

Turning circle

It might not be able to park nose to the kerb like an original Smart car, but the Twingo’s incredible manoeuvrability means it’s right at home in the city. With so much steering lock, tight spaces are simple, while three-point turns become two. It makes the others look like stretched limos.

Boot space

Both the i10 and Twingo have bigger boots than a Suzuki Swift, so downsizing to a city car doesn’t have to mean a loss of practicality. The Hyundai carries four people and luggage with ease, but in the Twingo and Picanto, you have to travel light.

Verdict

1st place: Hyundai i10

We can’t help but be impressed by how well developed the i10 feels for such a small car. It offers bags of practicality and is a decent cruiser, plus its cabin delivers big car quality and refinement. It can’t match the Twingo for outright fun, but its broad spread of abilities makes the little Hyundai hard to ignore and it takes a well deserved victory in this test.

2nd place: Renault Twingo

In town, the Renault’s darty handling and superb manoeuvrability are hard to ignore. Add to that its fun looks, fair spec and surprising versatility given its size, and the Twingo has lots going for it. Yet its engine is short on power, and it struggles on longer journeys. Yes, it’s fun and funky, but the Twingo’s appeal is a little uneven and it can’t match the i10 for all-round appeal.

3rd place: Kia Picanto

The Picanto is by no means a bad city car, but this facelift is so minimal that it hasn’t really changed our verdict. This three-door model can’t compete against the practicality an extra pair of doors adds, either, although the SR7’s standard kit list is good. In this guise, the Picanto represents a middle ground between the town-friendly Twingo and relaxed i10.

Other options in this category

Skoda Citigo SE 5dr

Price: £9,420Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl, 59bhp

Skoda’s Citigo combines all of the best elements of the three cars above – with five doors and a roomy, classy cabin, there’s lots of practicality and a bit of panache. It might be slightly down on power, but the SE is well priced and equipped.

Toyota Aygo x-play

Price: £10,295Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl, 68bhp

It’s a little more expensive, but the new Toyota Aygo is one of the most customisable city cars of the moment. You can choose different colours for the striking ‘x’ face, and with five doors there’s still lots of functionality on offer.

Key specs:

 Hyundai i10 1.0 SERenault Twingo Play SCe 70Kia Picanto SR7 3dr
On-the-road price/total as tested£9,770/£9,790£9,995/£9,995£9,845/£9,845
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£4,939/50.6%£4,025/40.3%£3,751/38.1%
Depreciation£4,831£5,970£6,094
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£311/£622£318/£636£273/£547
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,549/£2,582£1,519/£2,532£1,684/£2,806
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost1/£332/B/£203/£347/B/£202/£337/A/£0
Servicing costs£349 (3yrs)£399 (3yrs)£299 (3yrs)
    
Length/wheelbase3,665/2,385mm3,595/2,492mm3,595/2,385mm
Height/width1,500/1,660mm1,554/1,646mm1,480/1,595mm
Engine3cyl in-line/998cc3cyl in-line/999cc3cyl in-line/998cc
Peak power66/5,500 bhp/rpm69/6,000 bhp/rpm68/6,200 bhp/rpm
Peak torque95/3,500 Nm/rpm91/2,850 Nm/rpm95/3,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission5-spd man/fwd5-spd man/rwd5-spd man/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel40 litres/repair kit35 litres/repair kit35 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down)218/1,012 litres219/980 litres200/605 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight933/487kg/N/A864/495kg/N/A920/420/700kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient9.6 metres/0.31Cd8.6 metres/0.69Cd9.8 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery5yrs (unlimited)/5yrs4yrs (100,000)/4yrs7yrs (100,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 (1yr)/16212,000 (1yr)/15310,000 (1yr)/170
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.21st/13th*7th/14th*19th/10th*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./points79/80/71/56/478/81/68/56/486/83/47/43/4
    
0-60/30-70mph14.1/15.6 secs16.1/17.4 secs13.9/15.2 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th7.1/12.0 secs9.4/12.5 secs7.1/11.1 secs
50-70mph in 5th19.4 secs21.3 secs18.4 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph96mph/3,250rpm94mph/N/A95mph/3,400rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph52.7/38.8/9.6m54.3/36.9/9.8m53.3/38.2/9.1m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph70/40/64/73dB63/47/60/70dB58/66/61/60dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range40.1/8.9/353 miles40.9/9.1/315 miles36.9/8.2/284 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined47.1/70.6/60.1mpg47.9/70.6/60.1mpg52.3/78.5/67.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.4/15.5/13.2mpl10.5/15.5/13.2mpl11.5/17.3/14.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket163/108g/km/16%160/105g/km/16%177/99g/km/14%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/yes/no/noSix/yes/£150/noSix/yes/yes/no
Air-conditioning/leather/heated seatsYes/no/noYes/£1,200/£250Yes/no/no
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/yesNo/yes/noNo/yes/no
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£495/no/no£495/no/no£465/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothNo/yes/no/£175App/yes/yes/yesNo/yes/£250/yes
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