Kia Venga review
The Kia Venga has made a big impact in mini MPV sector, with great space and strong value
The Kia Venga proves that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a truly practical family car. This supermini MPV combines practicality and value for money to great effect, and as a result has made a big impact on this class of the market. Another big part of the appeal is the industry-leading seven-year warranty Kia offers – this shows the manufacturer’s confidence that the car won’t suffer any problems, and provides buyers with real peace of mind. The only potential fly in the ointment is the firm suspension, which can make for a rather uncomfortable ride over rough road surfaces. Plus, as spacious and practical as the interior is, it trails rivals like the Honda Jazz and Ford B-MAX by a long way in terms of quality – the Venga hasn’t caught up with the level of fit and finish found in newer cars from Kia. Most buyers will be able to put up with this when they look at the price, though: the basic 1 model represents brilliant value for money, while even the more expensive, gadget-packed flagship 3 looks tempting.
Our Choice: Venga 2 EcoDynamics 1.4 CRDi
While some models in this class look rather boxy, the rakish Kia Venga takes its design cues from regular superminis, and this helps to disguise its slightly larger dimensions. Extra visual appeal is added by the large sweptback headlamps and bold chrome grille. Every Venga also gets body-coloured door mirrors and bumpers, although entry-level versions make do with plain steel wheels and plastic trims; all other models feature 16-inch alloy wheels. Go for the range-topping 3 and you’ll also benefit from a panoramic glass roof, which allows welcome extra light into the interior. As with the exterior, the cabin is attractively styled and robustly constructed. The dashboard is logically laid out and the switchgear operates precisely, although the Venga feels cheap inside compared to the brand's latest models, and it’s not a patch on well made cars like the Ford B-MAX in terms of quality.
There’s a wide choice of engines in the Kia Venga. Entry-level 1 models come with 1.4-litre petrol or diesel engines, both with 89bhp and a manual gearbox only, while if you go for 2 spec, you also get the option of a 123bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine with an automatic box. Buyers choosing the top-spec Venga 3 can pick from the 123bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine with manual or automatic transmissions, or a 114bhp 1.6-litre CRDi diesel manual – and the latter is the cleanest and most economical model in the range. In fact, diesel will be the best bet for most buyers, as the 1.4 and 1.6 CRDi engines combine stronger efficiency with decent mid-range performance, and their six-speed manual boxes serve up greater long distance refinement. With quick, if lifeless, steering and reasonable grip, the Venga is surprisingly agile on twisting back roads. However, there is very little feedback from the steering wheel, while the firm suspension causes the car to crash into potholes and fidget on the motorway. The notchy gearbox also makes smooth progress difficult.
The latest generation of Kia models has performed strongly in Euro NCAP crash tests – so it was a shock that the Venga was awarded a below average four-star rating when it was first launched. As a result, the company made numerous changes to the car’s structure, and when Euro NCAP assessed it again, the car achieved a five-star score. All versions come with plenty of safety equipment, including six airbags, ESP and anti-whiplash head restraints. The Venga hasn’t yet featured in the annual Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey, but the brand’s other products have been praised for their reliability and robust build quality. And in the unlikely event that owners do encounter any problems, they have the comprehensive seven-year/100,000-mile Kia warranty to fall back on. This is fully transferrable, which boosts the appeal of the Venga to second-hand buyers, too.
You expect a supermini MPV to be extremely practical – and the Kia Venga doesn’t disappoint. You’ll notice the generous amount of space first: this easily rivals cars from the class above. You get bags of headroom, while a sliding rear bench lets owners choose between extra legroom or increased carrying capacity. Even with the seats pushed fully back, boot size stands at a generous 440 litres. Fold them, and the capacity increases to an excellent 1,253 litres. The luggage area is also enhanced by useful under floor stowage, a load securing net and hooks for shopping bags as well. Plus, up front, there’s plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment, making it easy to find a comfortable driving position.
The Kia Venga represents strong value for money, undercutting less well equipped mainstream rivals on price. However, it doesn’t hold on to that price especially well – poor predicted residual values undermine the otherwise excellent financial case for this car. If low running costs are a priority, the diesel versions make the most sense. The top-spec 1.6-litre CRDi EcoDynamics diesel is equipped with stop-start technology – Kia calls this Intelligent Stop and Go, or ISG – and promises fuel consumption of only 64.2mpg, while 117g/km CO2 emissions mean low road tax bills. ISG also cuts fuel and road tax bills on EcoDynamics versions of the 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol cars. But you don’t have to buy a high-spec Venga to get low fuel consumption and emissions: the 1.4-litre diesel delivers 62.8mpg and 119g/km even in the entry-level 1. The 1.4 CRDi also benefits from longer, 20,000-mile service intervals; most other versions of the Venga will need attention from your local dealer every 12,500 miles. Air-conditioning and electric windows feature on all versions, while 2 trim and above gets a leather steering wheel and an iPod connection cable. If you can stretch to a Venga 3, you benefit from automatic air-con, cruise control, heated front seats and a cooling glovebox as standard. And the line-up ranges from insurance group seven to 15, depending on the spec you choose.