What are they like inside?
The Kia Picanto is surprisingly classy inside; all of the switchgear is nicely damped and, although the dashboard plastics are hard, they look smart and feel substantial.
The Hyundai i10’s interior, by contrast, feels like it has cost pennies. Yes, it’s solidly built, but there’s an awful lot of drab, grainy plastic and little design flair.
That’s certainly not a criticism you can level at the Fiat 500. Its dash is painted to match the colour of the car, while mock-Bakelite inserts for the stereo and heater add to the retro charm. It’s just a pity the plastics don’t feel anywhere near as classy as they look.
The 500 is also let down by cluttered instruments that can be tricky to read at a glance. Otherwise, all three cars have straightforward dashboard layouts and simple, well-labelled controls.
Less impressively, each has a steering wheel with no reach adjustment. However, you should still be able to find a comfortable driving position in the Picanto, because the seat has plenty of height adjustment and slides back far enough to accommodate all but the longest legs.
Things aren’t quite so good in the i10 because you feel like you’re sitting too high, even when the seat is in its lowest setting. The 500 has less travel still – the ratchet lever on its seat base alters only the angle, not the height – and its rest for your clutch foot is uncomfortably high.
It goes without saying that the extra pair of doors on the i10 and Picanto makes access to the rear seats easier. The 500’s front seats tip and slide out of the way, but you still need to be reasonably flexible to manoeuvre yourself inside, and it’s disappointing that the seats don’t return to their original positions afterwards.
Adults will also feel pretty cramped in the back of the 500, whereas its rivals offer decent head and knee room. The i10 is particularly generous, and its rear seats are more supportive and comfortable than those in the Picanto or the 500.
In all three cars, the boot is big enough to swallow a few bags of shopping, plus the i10 and Picanto have rear seats that split and fold 60/40, so you can transport longer loads and carry rear passengers. The 500 isn’t as versatile because its rear seat folds in one piece, unless you spend more and buy the Lounge model.
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