THE LATEST generation of Hyundai's i20 is a good starting point for those looking for a first car, or even a little runabout vehicle for the family.

I recently tested the SE version with the 1.2-litre petrol engine and found it a thoroughly agreeable little car. The engine tested was rated at 83bhp (a detuned one of 74bhp is available too), but that seemingly lowly figure is soon put to the back of your mind as this wee beast is quite a go'er.

It's not going to break under the 10 seconds barrier for the 0-62mph timed run, but it proved to be nippy enough. And, in contrast to some of the competition in its sector, it was very quiet on the road and the chassis and suspension were capable of soaking up the worst that Ayrshire's roads can throw at it while on test in the county.

A 1.4-litre motor rated at 88bhp is the top diesel option, with a 1.1-litre oil-burner of 74bhp and the fastest and most powerful in the range, a 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol, giving a wide spread of options - maybe too wide! For me the top-rated 1.2 petrol and 1.4-litre diesel would be the pick of the available units.

It's fighting its corner well in sales terms too, even though it is up against sector 'giants' like the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. Though it appears on paper to be at the same or even a little above the price of a comparable Ford or Vauxhall, there is a much better basic spec' in the Hyundai to tempt you.

It holds its own very well in almost every department. Inside, it's a well-laid out interior, though I felt the seats were a little on the flimsy side for a man of my dimensions.

Its premium SE designation gives it a fair amount of kit, too, with a really nice stereo unit with and easy to use Bluetooth capability and voice recognition, electric front windows, rear parking sensors and remote central locking. In this top of the range spec's, you also get air conditioning and cruise control, with speed limiter

For the safety conscious, there's the usual ABS set-up, plus an electronic stability programme, hill-start control and impact sensing auto door unlocking. There's even a tyre pressure monitoring system to keep you right. And, my favourite thing on a cold morning ... heated front seats!

Which all adds up to quite a package for this model's £12,725 price tag on the road.