THE Kia Picanto and I have a little history. We teamed up as outlaws in France, a sort of Gallic Bonny and Clyde or Butch and Sundance.

OK, not quite. But we did have a brush with the law near Bordeaux a few years ago.

The occasion was the launch of the new iteration of the car and, while on a road test in the countryside, I was stopped by a Gendarme for an alleged minor infringement. He was staking out a crossroads and claimed I had failed to observe a stop sign. I begged to differ but it was to no avail … an £80 on-the-spot fine ensued, on pain of having my licence confiscated.

The copper then admired the Picanto and complimented the car before leaping onto his motorcycle, complete with my cash.

Although the experience left me lighter in the pocket I had to agree with the policeman’s approving verdict. I liked the Picanto too … and I was looking forward to the latest Weekend Wheels test car, an X-Line S version of the little five-door hatchback.

The car looks sporty, with its 16in alloy wheels, privacy glass for rear windows and tailgate, black side-sill mouldings and wheel-arch cladding.

Features include LED daytime running lights, electric sunroof, welcome and follow me home lights functionality, auto headlights, power-folding hearted door mirrors, heated, leather-trimmed steering wheel, cruise control and speed limiter, posh satnav, reversing camera system, Bluetooth with music streaming, wireless mobile phone charger, rear parking sensors and connectivity suite.

There is a generous helping of safety kit too, beyond the usual array of ABS etc., including autonomous emergency braking, emergency stop signalling, and hill-start assist.

With a 1,248cc 83bhp, four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, the Picanto clocks up 0-60mph in 11.6 seconds and a top speed of 107mph while returning 61.4mpg on the combined cycle (manufacturers figures).