It looks small on the outside, but the Kia Venga is incredibly spacious inside. It's one of the older models in Kia's range, but received a facelift at the start of 2015 that updated the styling and specification, while also adding some new alloy wheel designs.
The Venga's compact proportions and roomy cabin mean it competes with the likes of the Ford B-MAX, Citroen C3 Picasso, Nissan Note and Skoda Roomster. It's cheap to buy and run and comes with Kia's excellent seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, which makes it a good all-round package if practicality, reliability and low prices are a priority.
Engines comprise a choice of 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrols and diesels – none of which make the Venga particularly fast. The quickest is the 1.6-litre ISG petrol, which’ll get it to 62mph from rest in 10.6 seconds. The 1.4-litre CRDI diesel has the slowest 0-62mph time: 14 seconds.
But what the engines lack in performance, they make up for in economy. The 1.4-litre petrol returns an official 50.4mpg, but emits 130g/km of CO2, so annual road tax is £110. The most economical model is the 1.6-litre diesel in EcoDynamics trim, which returns 64.2mpg and emits 115g/km, so it costs only £30 a year to tax. Though the Venga is cheap to run, it isn’t hard to find newer rivals with superior fuel economy and CO2 figures – and better performance as well.
Space is the Kia's strongest suit: the cabin can comfortably accommodate four adults and there's plenty of leg and headroom. The rear seats slide back and forth, allowing for more passenger or boot space depending on what you need. Fold the back seats down and there's a huge load area that puts larger cars to shame. A facelift at the start of 2015 brought an improvement in cabin materials and the Venga is known for good reliability – backed up by its seven-year warranty.
The Venga's high seating position means visibility is good. However, it suffers from body lean in corners, its suspension is a bit on the firm side and its steering is very light, with little in the way of feedback, so it isn’t much fun to drive. On the other hand, it's well equipped: even the entry-level 1 model features electric front windows, USB ports, MP3 player connectivity and power-folding heated door mirrors, which is impressive for a car at this price.
There are five other trim levels: 1 Air, SR7, 2, 3, and 4. The 1 Air adds air-conditioning, while the 2 includes alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connectivity and reversing sensors. You get a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system and sat nav with 3, while the top-of-the-range 4 comes with a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and part-leather seats.
SR7 was introduced in 2015 model and includes sharper-looking trim and alloy wheels, reversing sensors, Bluetooth and tinted windows, among other things. It's good value, too, as it costs less than the 2 yet has a similar amount of equipment.
Our pick is the Venga 1.6-litre CRDi diesel 3, though, as it's still an affordable car and offers a good blend of fuel economy and standard equipment.
A full five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating means the Kia is a safe car. Every version comes with a suite of airbags, hill-start assistance and electronic stability control, too.