Kia Venga mini MPV
Price: £11,595 - £17,970
- Very spacious
- Great value for money
- Seven-year warranty
- Dull styling
- Interior feels cheap
- Limited engine range
"The Kia Venga offers loads of space, cheap running costs, a great value price tag and a seven-year warranty."
It has three main strengths: superb levels of practicality, great value for money and Kia's market-leading seven-year warranty. It comes in a choice of five specification levels: ‘1’, ‘1 AIR’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and top-of-the-range ‘3 Sat Nav’, but all versions come with strong equipment levels and a decent amount of safety kit.
It does have its drawbacks, though. It's now one of the older cars in the Kia line-up, and material quality, fit and finish isn’t a match for newer models in the range like the cee’d hatchback, and doesn’t compare well to rivals like the Ford B-MAX and Honda Jazz. The Venga also suffers from quite a firm suspension setting, which gives it a bit of an uncomfortable ride.
The engine range is limited, too, featuring relatively underpowered and noisy diesel engines plus uneconomical petrol engines. But even with these issues, it's still a very competent car – and you’ll struggle to find another model that offers such a good blend of practicality and value for money.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Far from class-leading, but diesel engines offer decent economy
The diesel engines are the best choice for those looking for low running costs. There's a choice of 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre diesel engines. The smaller one returns 62.8mpg and emits 119g/km CO2, while the larger engine returns 64.2mpg and emits 117g/km CO2. These are decent figures but don’t come close to the best in class – the Ford B-MAX fitted with a 1.6-litre TDCi engine, for example, will do 70.6mpg and emit 104g/km CO2.
The 1.6-litre petrol engine is particularly inefficient for a car of the Kia Venga's size. It does 43.5mpg and emits 154g/km CO2, while the smaller 1.4-litre petrol engine will do 50.4mpg and emit 130g/km CO2.
It's worth noting that models with the smaller 1.4-litre diesel benefit from longer service intervals than cars equipped with other engines from the range – it’ll only need a trip to the dealer every 20,000 miles compared to 12,500 miles. But servicing bills will be affordable whichever model you go for, and the seven-year warranty will ensure you don’t get hit with a big repair bill out of the blue.
Interior & comfort
There’s no shortage of space to get comfortable, but the ride is a little firm
The Venga is very spacious for a car its size, and there's plenty of headroom and legroom in the back so even adult passengers can get comfy. Interior quality doesn’t quite match up to rivals though, with material quality, fit and finish trailing rivals like the Ford B-MAX and Honda Jazz – and lagging behind newer Kia models like the Cee’d.
The suspension setup is a little firm, too. It’ll soak up potholes and bumps fairly well, but it feels fidgety on the motorway – and even feels slightly unstable in crosswinds. The interior could be better insulated, too, as there's quite a bit of wind and engine noise at higher speeds.
Practicality & boot space
Spacious and practical interior with a massive boot
Practicality in the Venga is very impressive. Kia's designers have done a great job of getting the most out of the limited space on offer from the car's compact dimensions.
The boot offers 440 litres of space, which compares well with the space on offer from rivals – the Ford B-MAX has just 318 litres, for example. But that space can be easily expanded to 570 litres because the rear seats can be slid forward or back to increase boot or leg space. And if you need an even bigger load area then the 60:40 split-folding rear seats fold flat to create 1,253 litres of capacity. The boot's square shape makes loading objects into it easy, too.
The interior is also very spacious, and there's enough room to comfortably accommodate adult passengers. Our only criticism would be that there are less storage bins and cubbyholes than we would expect for an MPV.
Reliability & safety
Five-star safety and reliability guaranteed by a seven-year warranty
Anyone concerned about the reliability of Kia's cars need only take a look at customer satisfaction surveys to see that the brand is as dependable as they come. It came seventh in the 2013 Driver Power manufacturer chart, a superb result and a higher position than premium brands like Audi and BMW.
The material quality on the inside of the Kia Venga does feel a bit low rent, but it seems solid and should hold up to day-to-day wear-and-tear pretty well. And the car comes with a seven-year warranty anyway, so in the unlikely event that any major mechanical faults do crop up, the car is covered for the best part of a decade.
The Venga was initially awarded a four-star crash safety rating by Euro NCAP – but Kia paid attention to the criticism from the crash-testers, addressed the problems and had the car re-tested. It was given a five-star rating after the second round of tests – so you can be sure safety is top-notch.
Engines, drive & performance
Engine range is weak and the Venga isn't much fun to drive
The Venga comes with a choice of four engines – two petrols and two diesels, and all of them have their weaknesses.
The petrols include an 89bhp 1.4-litre, which comes with Intelligent Stop and Go (Kia's stop-start fuel saving system); and a 123bhp 1.6-litre engine which can be had with or without ISG. The 1.6-litre offers reasonable performance but poor economy and efficiency, and while the smaller engine is just about powerful enough for day-to-day driving, the fuel economy is still not particularly good.
The diesel line-up consists of a 1.4-litre CRDi diesel and a 114bhp 1.6-litre CRDi, both of which come with ISG. Unfortunately, they are also both a little noisy and underpowered. The Venga isn’t much cop to drive, either, with vague steering and lots of body roll through the corners.
Price, value for money & options
Equipment levels are good but the Venga isn't the bargain it once was
Kia's cars have come a long way in recent years, thanks to stylish designs, better quality interiors and that excellent seven-year warranty. But all these things come at a cost and lead to an increased price tag.
The Venga still costs less than most rivals, but the gap is narrowing. And there's a new budget brand in the marketplace – Dacia – which offers substantially lower prices than Kia.
Still, the Venga is well equipped. All models get body coloured door mirrors and bumpers, tinted glass, heated rear windows, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, steering wheel-mounted controls, split-folding rear seats, radio/CD with MP3 compatibility, USB and aux-in connectivity and hill-start assist. ‘1 Air’ models add air con, ‘2’ models get alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, all-round electric windows, and a range of trim upgrades. While ‘3’ and ‘3 Sat Nav come with a whole host of gadgets.
Resale values for the Venga are still pretty poor, though, so if you’re likely to be changing cars within three or four years, you may be better off looking at rivals like the Ford B-MAX or Honda Jazz.
What the others say
It's the amount of room on offer that really impresses, though. Despite its compact exterior dimensions, the Venga rivals cars from the class above for space. You get bags of headroom, while the sliding rear bench lets owners choose between extra legroom or increased carrying capacity.
Kia's Venga is roomy inside and the touches designed to make it versatile work reasonably well. Value for money usually forms an enormous part of a Kia's appeal, but the Venga isn't especially cheap. It's too early to say how it'll perform on resale values, but Kias aren't usually too strong on that front.
With its high roofline and short body it offers an alternative to the likes of the Renault Grand Modus and Citroen C3 Picasso. As well as being just as practical as the French manufacturers' efforts, it is reasonable to drive and it makes perfect sense as a city runabout.
Last updated: 13 Feb 2014