"The Kia Venga offers plenty of space, low running costs and a seven year warranty, but has a limited range of engines and can be expensive."
With a spacious cabin and generous boot, the Kia Venga proves small cars can deliver big practicality. Compared to other models in the maker's line- up – like the larger Carens – it's not cheap, but it does offer good comfort and plenty of safety equipment.Inside, the driver and passengers will find loads of head and legroom, although the quality doesn’t quite match that of Kia's cee’d. This car is let down by its engine range, though. The 1.4-litre diesel is laboured and noisy, but the better 1.4-litre petrol engine isn’t as economical.
The Venga offers a good view of the road ahead, and with it a feeling of safety. The steering and gearchange are light but precise, although there's quite a lot of body roll. The 1.6-litre petrol engine is only available with an automatic gearbox, and while the start-stop equipped 89bhp diesel is economical, it's quite noisy. The 1.4-litre petrol engine is better, although it requires a good deal of gear changing if you want to keep up with traffic.
The Kia Venga has been engineered to be as comfortable as possible, and around town it's great at soaking up potholes and bumps without suffering cabin vibration. On the motorway it's less impressive: its tall shape means it can feel slightly unstable through motorway crosswinds, and they also create some whistling in the cabin.
The dashboard surfaces are quite hard, but there's a solidity to the switches and dials that makes the Venga feel well built. All cars get six airbags, electronic stability control and anti-whiplash head rests, but its four-star Euro NCAP rating is below average for this sector. The Venga was recalled shortly after launch for a seatbelt tearing problem, although this was quickly rectified, and Kia's recent reliability record is generally sound.
There's a big, square boot, and the rear seats slide forward and back to increase boot or legroom as required. It's also possible to raise the floor of the boot by a few inches to create a completely flat floor – when the seats are folded down, they sit flush with the loading space. There aren’t as many storage bins in the cabin as you might hope for from a people carrier, although there's loads of headroom and enough rear leg space to ensure that young kids won’t be forever kicking the front seats.
Value for money
Surprisingly for a Kia, the Venga could do better in this respect. It doesn’t look expensive, but its ability to hold its value is as-yet unproven and prices don’t significantly undercut rivals. All cars get a six-speaker stereo and air-conditioning, but you’ll need a car in 2 specification to get alloy wheels and an iPod connection. 3 spec cars get climate control and a panoramic sunroof (left).
The automatic-only 1.6-litre petrol engine is thirsty for a small car, returning 40.4mpg, but the 1.4-litre petrol is better with 45.6mpg. Neither are quick, however. The 1.4 diesel engine offers a much more appealing 62.8mpg, and its 117g/km emissions put it in the £30 road tax bracket. The more powerful 1.6 diesel is actually more economical, returning 64mpg. Insurance costs for the Venga are low, and servicing bills are reasonable, too.