Kia Venga review

Introduction

There are some clever little cars encased within the supermini MPV bracket and Kia's Venga is one of them. June Neary reports.

Will It Suit Me?

Unlike Kias of old, the Venga doesn't undercut its rivals on price but when you take the level of standard equipment into account, it does seem to be good value. 1, 2 and 3 trim levels are available with the entry-level 1 featuring basics like electric windows, a CD stereo, the Fold & Dive seating system and a centre armrest. The safety equipment on the car runs to an ABS braking system with disc brakes on all four wheels, six airbags and active front head restraints. ESC stability control is standard on some models and optional elsewhere. Another, handy option is a reversing camera which sends images from behind the car to a 3.5" LCD display on the dash.

Practicalities

The Venga is a little over four meters long which is about standard for a modern supermini but it's designed with its wheels pushed right out to the corners and that helps free-up the maximum interior space. This layout also helps the car look planted and purposeful on the road and it's one of the sportiest supermini MPVs to look at, even if there aren't the inventive styling details to help it stand out further. The exterior gets the Venga off to a good start, but the cabin is what it's all about here. There's plenty of legroom in the back and a boot of 440-litres that can be extended by sliding the rear seat forward or utilising the two-tier boot floor. Kia's Fold & Dive seating system features and gives the option of collapsing the back seats to make more luggage capacity. The 60:40 split rear seats drop to create a flat load floor with a 1,253-litre total capacity. Kia's quest to enhance the quality of its products has been a successful one and the parts of the Venga that you look at and touch most regularly appear to be a match for the sector's finest. The design is uncomplicated and there are nice details like the tactile metallic bezels on the main dials and the crisp illumination of the instruments. What's still slightly lacking is attention to the minor details that come together to create that crucial impression of quality. Some of the materials on the door inserts and below the steering wheel are cheap and ill fitting, the glovebox closes with a plastic clang and a resolute slam of the door provokes a slight rattle. With a few minor niggles tightened up, the Venga would be as good as the top supermini MPVs.

Behind the Wheel

The common-rail diesel options will be most popular. Most will opt for the 89bhp 1.4 CRDi unit but there's also a 123bhp 1.6-litre CRDi powerplant that'll better suit those covering longer distances. The alternatives to diesel power are a couple of petrol engines, a 1.4 and a 1.6. Respectively, these generate 89 and 123bhp. The actual handling of the Venga is worthy of praise with the well-weighted steering provoking crisp responses. Don't expect anything too dynamic because this is a taller vehicle than a conventional supermini and its height is felt in corners through a bit of body roll. The chunky steering wheel feels good in the hands and the upright driving position affords good visibility, although the A-pillars do obstruct your view on roundabouts.

Value For Money

Unlike Kias of old, the Venga doesn't undercut its rivals on price but when you take the level of standard equipment into account, it does seem to be good value. 1, 2 and 3 trim levels are available with the entry-level 1 featuring basics like electric windows, a CD stereo, the Fold & Dive seating system and a centre armrest. The safety equipment on the car runs to an ABS braking system with disc brakes on all four wheels, six airbags and active front head restraints. ESC stability control is standard on some models and optional elsewhere. Another, handy option is a reversing camera which sends images from behind the car to a 3.5" LCD display on the dash.

Could I Live With One?

In the final reckoning, the Venga is a strong supermini MPV effort from Kia. There are some talented cars in this area of the market aiming to fulfil the needs of customers who require a little more practicality than a standard supermini can offer but the Kia competes well with them. It's a handsome car without serious drawbacks in the driving experience and the cabin is impressively roomy. It's not the highest tech or the most adventurously designed choice but value for money and Kia's superb warranty count in its favour.