Kia Venga review
The Kia Venga has made a big impact in mini MPV sector, with great space and strong value
The Kia Venga has made a big impact on the mini MPV sector, delivering plenty of space and great value for money. With its seven-year warranty, the Venga also proves that you don't really need to invest in a big car to get serious levels of interior practicality. The only fly in the ointment is the firm suspension and a cheap interior that is miles behind rivals like the Honda Jazz and Ford B-MAX while the stiff ride makes it uncomfortable on rougher road surfaces. There are three different trim levels to choose from with the basic '1' model propping up the bottom of the range to the gadget-packed '3' which is the flagship model.
Our Choice: Venga 2 EcoDynamics 1.4 CRDi
Unlike its boxier rivals, the rakish Kia Venga takes its design cues from regular superminis. Extra visual appeal is added by the large sweptback headlamps and bold chrome grille. Entry-level versions make do with plain steel wheels with plastic trims, while all other models get alloy rims. Go for the range-topping ‘3’ and you’ll also benefit from a panoramic glass roof. As with the exterior, the Kia Venga’s cabin is attractively styled and robustly constructed. Better still, the dashboard is logically laid out and the switchgear operates with precision. However it feels cheap compared to the brand's latest models and is not as well made as the Ford B-MAX.
Buyers get the choice of three engines – 89bhp 1.4-litre and 123bhp 1.6-litre petrol units, plus an 89bhp 1.4-litre diesel. For most owners the oil-burner is the best bet, as it delivers decent mid-range urge, is reasonably fuel-efficient and features a six-speed gearbox for greater long distance refinement. Quick but lifeless steering and reasonable grip combine to make the Venga surprisingly agile on twisting back roads. However, there is very little feedback and the firm suspension set-up causes the Kia to crash into potholes and fidget on the motorway. The notchy gearbox also makes smooth progress difficult.
The latest generation of Kia models have performed strongly in Euro NCAP tests – so the Venga’s below average four-star rating came as a shock. As a result the firm made numerous changes to the car’s structure, leading to a five-star award when it was assessed again. All versions boast six airbags, ESP and anti-whiplash head restraints. The Venga hasn’t yet featured in our Driver Power survey, but the brand’s other products are praised for their reliability and robust build quality.
You expect a mini MPV to extremely practical – and the Kia Venga doesn’t disappoint. You’ll notice the generous amount of space first, which 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. There’s plenty of seat and wheel adjustment, making it easy to find a comfortable driving position. Even with the seats pushed fully back there’s a generous 440-litres of boot space. The load area also includes useful under floor stowage, a load securing net and hooks for shopping bags as well.
The Venga represents strong value for money, undercutting less well-equipped mainstream rivals on price. However, poor predicted residuals undermine the Kia’s otherwise strong financial case. When it comes to running costs the diesel versions make the most sense. Fitted with the firm’s Intelligent Stop and Go start/stop kit the 1.4-litre CRDi is capable of returning 62.8mpg, while its CO2 emissions are only 117g/km. Air-conditioning and electric windows feature on all versions, while ‘2’ trim and above gets a leather steering wheel and an iPod connection cable.