Spicy little number


Happy tadpole: Kia Picanto subcompact.
   If you find the Emgrand EC8 too costly a rental, a Kia Picanto could be an attractive alternative. And not just in price (though as an "A segment" subcompact, it's bound to be cheaper than the EC8, a midsize by classification but a large car by Cuban standards).
   "Picanto" comes from the French piquant (spicy) and Italian canto (song). Name aside, the first-generation 2004 Picanto was a rather bland little offering, with plain vertical sides and a tadpole-like countenance. Still, it was liked for its value and handling --"the first Korean small car that was also fun to drive," in the words of one New Zealand auto writer.
   The 2012 version has tons more tang. The roofline angles are racier and the sides are skilfully sculpted. But it's the "tiger-nose" front treatment – bold, even brazen -- that truly gives it presence. The "small car grown up" theme carries on in the interior with classy-looking materials and optimum use of space. Inside and out, the Picanto bears the stamp of Kia's respected European design centre.
   Sold in markets worldwide (though not, sadly, in North America), the Picanto has seatbelts for five occupants but is undoubtedly more comfortable for four, and even then luggage space will be limited. For one, two or even three people, however, it should do fine, and its four-star rating in European crash-testing offers reassurance.
   If you can't find a Picanto to rent, the Hyundai i10 is similar. Nowhere near as spicy, though.


Researching car rentals in Cuba? See the previous post, plus:

Renting a car in Cuba: Keep the lead out
So many, so few
You won't drive a bargain
Caristas 10 tips for driving in Cuba


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