Kia Venga 1.4 Petrol review

Article
Oct 29, 2010

The Kia Venga has been designed, engineered and is built in Europe. So how does the Korean firm's new mini-MPV stack up?

"The Venga won't set your pants on fire, but it will deliver them from Primark with total ease"


What is it?


The Kia Venga is the Korean firm's take on the Honda Jazz-style one-box mini MPV. It's also the first European car that's been designed on the watch of Peter Schreyer – the man who brought us the original Audi TT, amongst other things. And yes, the it's called the Venga, so jokes relating to late ’90s Dutch pop bands or Arsenal football club's manager are inevitable. The name is derived from the Spanish word ‘to arrive’ apparently.


What's it like on the outside?


Kia is very keen for you to know that the Venga was designed in Europe. And you can tell that just by looking at it. Peter Schreyer and his team have given it a subtle yet stylish appearance that's actually quite Audi-ish, especially from the rear three quarters, which I reckon owes a lot to the Q7 SUV. The Venga is built on the same platform as the Rio and the Soul, sits in between the two in Kia's range, and I’d say looks less forgettable than the former, and less controversial than the latter. It's not a bad effort given the cars it has to compete against – the Nissan Note, Ford Fusion and Honda Jazz.


What's it like on the inside?


The level of interior space that's been extracted from the Venga's compact dimensions is impressive. Up front, the driver and passenger are treated to an excellent view out, thanks in part to the large glasshouse, while sub-six footers will have no trouble fitting in the back. The rear seat slides forward and back, but even in its rear-most position, the boot is still very capacious.

There are some dodgy plastics, but the Venga's interior is otherwise well packaged and well specced – basic cars come with six-speaker stereos, air con and so on.


What's it like to drive?


The Venga that I sampled was in European spec, and thus not entirely representative of what the car will be like when it arrives here – Lotus will have had a full year to refine the Venga's dynamics for UK roads when it goes on sale. And to be honest, it performs pretty well, and a safe, sensible way. The steering is very light, making it easy to twirl about in town, and the excellent visibility makes for a confidence-inspiring drive. The petrol engine is smooth too and sounds a lot more sophisticated than the agricultural 1.4-litre CRDi diesel which Kia reckons will be the volume seller. The Venga won’t set your pants on fire, but it will deliver them from Primark back home with total ease and simplicity. And that's exactly the point of this car.


Verdict


The Venga has a lot going for it. It's stylish, it's practical and it comes with a whopping seven year, 100,000-mile warranty – perfect for today's financially uncertain times. But while the prices are yet to be confirmed, Kia's attempts to make the Venga much more European in terms of driving and styling have whacked up the price a lot. And while you’ll get more kit on a Venga, the entry-level models are more expensive than the excellent Citroen C3 Picasso.

Car Specs - Kia Venga 1.4 Petrol


Engine:
1.4-litre petrol, 89hp

0-62mph:
12.8 seconds

Top speed:
104mph

Economy/emissions:
45.6mpg/147g/km CO2

Price/On sale
£c.11,500/Feb 1


We rate:

The best looking Kia in Europe
Great warranty and packaging


We slate:

Getting expensive now
The Vengabus is coming...


Rating

: 3 out of 5

 

By Tom Phillips

Read more about: