Kia’s designers have pulled off a few neat little tricks with the latest Picanto.

For though the compact, city car takes up the same amount of space on the road, some clever packaging has improved the space available both for passengers and luggage.

And for good measure, the equipment fitted to the five-door, five-seater has also been given a boost.

What hasn’t changed are the rock-bottom insurance costs and the monster seven-year warranty.

Priced from £9,450 on the road, the cute and cheeky looks of the former model have been replaced by something much sportier – and a bit more spacious.

The wheelbase has been increased slightly and the front overhang is shorter, making the car look squatter, while the rear overhang is longer to create more luggage space. The 60:40 split folding rear seats quickly increase luggage carrying capacity.

There is a lower waistline to make the cabin lighter and more airy, a slimmer dashboard to enhance space for the driver and front passenger, and lower seats placed further backwards in the cabin, though I would have liked height adjustment on the driver’s seat.

The interior is more refined with the grade ‘2’ test car fitted with smart black cloth seats and a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear-lever.

Power on the test car came from a three-cylinder, 66 horsepower 1.0-litre engine that is capable of more than 60mpg. Linked to the standard five-speed manual gearbox it is at its happiest nipping around town, but still has more than enough power spare to cope with motorway driving.

If you want more oomph there is the option of a four-cylinder 83 horsepower 1.25-litre engine. A 99 horsepower 1.0-litre T-GDi turbocharged unit – the most powerful engine ever fitted in a Picanto – is on the way.

The hatchback, which comes with a choice of two transmissions and five trim lines, also comes with a wider range of standard equipment.

Even the entry-level model has electric front windows, remote locking with a folding key, tinted windows, a radio with AUX and USB ports, a tilt-adjustable steering column and automatic headlight control. Safety systems range from electronic stability control and vehicle stability management to hill-start assist control and six airbags.

Move up to the grade ‘2’ test car and in comes air conditioning, electric rear windows, electric heated door mirrors, four-speaker audio and Bluetooth with music streaming.

Exterior touches include body-coloured door handles and side mirror housings, high-gloss black centre fascia trim, a chrome grille surround and 14-inch alloy wheels.

Further up the range, available equipment is in the big-car class ranging from cruise control with a speed limiter and satellite navigation, to Bluetooth with voice recognition, and a rear parking camera.

All models from grade ‘3’ upwards have autonomous emergency braking which can bring the car to a complete stop at certain speeds. It is a no-brainer £350 option on grades ‘1’ and ‘2’.

The petrol-only Picanto is now available only as a five-door car, since Kia says three-door models account for only 10 per cent of sales in the city-car sector – a share which is diminishing.

Auto facts

Model: Kia Picanto ‘2’

Price: £10,750

Insurance group: 2 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 64.2mpg

Top speed: 100mph

Length: 359.5cm/141.5in

Width: 159.5cm/62.8in

Luggage capacity: Nine cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 7.7 gallons/35 litres

CO2 emissions: 101g/km

Warranty: Seven years/ 100,000 miles