Kia Venga 1.4 CRDi EcoDynamics review

We test the UK spec Kia Venga. See if we're in for a pleasant surprise by reading our review.

"The Venga's dynamics were sorted by Lotus and boy does it show"

What is it?I drove the Venga on the European launch late last year and was told not to read too much into the car’s dynamics. So now I’ve taken a spin in the full UK-spec Lotus tuned Venga is there any difference?

What’s it like on the outside?Just as we found out last time, the Venga is the first clean sheet design by Kia’s design boss Peter Schreyer. Mr Schreyer used to design Audis for a living and you can tell that in some of the Venga’s detailing. While the front is fairly generic Eurobox, albeit with Kia’s house style tiger snout grille, the rear three quarters look a lot like a shrunken Q7 SUV – perfect for those choosing to downsize. The Venga doesn’t stand out amongst its rivals – Honda Jazz, Nissan Note et al – but it stands out as a big step forward for Kia’s rapidly improving design quality.

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 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, electric windows and so on.

What’s it like to drive?This is the most important factor for this UK-tuned Venga is the improvements to the driving experience. Lotus spent 12 months refining the car specifically for our roads and the difference it has made over the Euro-spec car is amazing. For a start there’s a real meatiness and solidity to the steering that was totally absent before. The Venga also gets completely different dampers. Lotus has once again managed the alchemy of firming up the ride for a more dynamic drive, but not at the expensive of comfort. It makes the Venga feel very sold, especially on the motorway, which gives you extra confidence.

The one disappointment is the 1.4-liter diesel engine. It’s fairy torquey, but it’s really noisy and unrefined at almost any speed. There’s more soundproofing in the UK car than the Euro-spec one, but still the clatter from under the bonnet is intrusive.

Granted you get 62.8mpg, thanks in part to the ISG stop start system. But stick with the sweeter, £1,300 cheaper 1.4-petrol option instead.

VerdictJust as I said last time, the Venga has got a lot going for it, including the excellent Kia seven year/100,000 miles warranty which gives great security in the current financial climate.

The Venga is a competitive, European-spec supermini which drives well, has decent kit and loads of space. And yes it truly delivers the full Euro experience too. But the firm is charging similar money to its rivals – the Honda Jazz, Nissan Note et al – too. Kia is certainly not short of confidence.

Car Specs - Kia Venga 1.4 CRDi EcoDynamics

Engine:1.4-litre diesel, 89hp
0-62mph:14.0 seconds
Top speed:104mph
Economy/emissions:62.8mpg/117g/km CO2
Price/On sale £12,795/Now

We rate:Vastly improved dynamicsInterior space

We slate:Diesel engine is soooo noisyPrices creeping up


By Tom Phillips

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