Used test: Fiat 500 vs Kia Picanto vs Hyundai i10

The fashionable Fiat 500 goes up against the sensible Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto as we find out whether your heart or your head should pick your next used city car

Words By What Car? team

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Fiat 500 vs Hyundai i10 vs Kia Picanto group shot

Our Verdict

The Kia Picanto should be the car that best marries the two ends of the spectrum represented by its rivals. And on paper, it seems that it’ll do just that, combining perky styling with low fuel consumption and excellent reliability. It even looks good inside, which is no small feat for a used city car of this price.

The trouble is, once you get out on the road, it all falls apart somewhat. The engine is so weedy that you’ll soon make a dent in that fuel consumption, while the unsettled ride makes progress less than smooth. The same can be said of the clutch, which is difficult to use in traffic – hardly ideal in a city car. Throw in the numb, overly light steering and it makes for a car that’s a pain, rather than a pleasure, to drive.

The real nail in the Kia’s coffin, though, is that it’s no cheaper to buy than the Fiat 500 – a car which offers a genuinely stylish image and truly delightful looks. The Fiat also has its sparky little engine in its corner, while in town the light steering is a boon. Out of it, the 500 feels planted and secure, too, which is an added bonus.

But the 500’s style comes at the expense of some substance. Its ride jitters and jolts over even relatively smooth roads, and in town that can become wearing. It’s also rather sparsely equipped – and lacks things you might find yourself wanting. And with only three doors and a cramped rear end, the 500 becomes irksome to live with if you’re regularly carrying passengers in the back.

All of which leaves the Hyundai i10 sitting pretty at the top of our table. It is not a car without its faults; first of all, you’ll have to see past the slightly awkward styling, and once you’ve done that, there’s the naff-looking interior and vague steering to have to deal with too.

But the many positives outweigh these negatives. It is, after all, considerably cheaper to buy than either of its two rivals in this test, to an extent that more or less outweighs any advantage in running costs either of them might have. It’s also the roomiest car here and, with its responsive engine, it has enough power to haul its passengers around or to sit comfortably on a motorway. Crucially, though, it’s the easiest car of our three to drive around town. There we have it, then: sense trumps style, head trumps heart, and the Hyundai i10 is our winner here.

Read our review of the latest Hyundai i10

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Also consider:

1st – Hyundai i10

For Low price and costs; light controls; fine engine; roomy interior

Against Unappealing plastics; vague steering; clunky styling

Verdict A great way to get around if you’re on a tight budget

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Hyundai i10 review

Find a used Hyundai i10 in the What Car? Classifieds

2nd – Fiat 500

For Stylish looks; lively engine; light steering in town; secure handling

Against Jittery ride; stingy equipment; tight in the back

Verdict Incredibly desirable, despite its shortcomings

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full used Fiat 500 review

Find a used Fiat 500 in the What Car? Classifieds

3rd – Kia Picanto

For Classy dash; fine driving position; superb economy; generous kit

Against Weedy engine; numb steering; knobbly ride; jerky in traffic

Verdict Badly compromised as city transport

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full used Kia Picanto review

Find a used Kia Picanto in the What Car? Classifieds

Specifications: Hyundai i10 1.2 Active

Engine size 1.2-litre petrol

List price when new Β£8795

Price today Β£3000

Power 84bhp

Torque 89lb ft

0-60mph 11.0sec

Top speed 110mph

Fuel economy 61.4mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 108g/km

Specifications: Fiat 500 1.2 Pop S/S

Engine size 1.2-litre petrol

List price when new Β£9665

Price today Β£4000

Power 68bhp

Torque 75lb ft

0-60mph 12.5sec

Top speed 101mph

Fuel economy 58.9mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 113g/km

Specifications: Kia Picanto 1.0 2

Engine size 1.0-litre petrol

List price when new Β£9595

Price today Β£4000

Power 68bhp

Torque 70lb ft

0-60mph 14.9sec

Top speed 100mph

Fuel economy 67.3mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 99g/km

Price today is based on a 2011 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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