£16,635 - £19,210 Price range
43 - 47 MPG
The Kia Venga gets reasonable, but not great reviews. The Venga is a small, short city car that has a comprehensive seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, something that provides private buyers with masses of reassurance.
It’s no one-trick pony though; it’s more spacious than you’d imagine, nicely finished inside, and surprisingly agreeable to drive too, if not the best in the class.
The Venga is a short car that feels much bigger inside than it should; it manages this thanks to an upright seating position and by having the four wheels located at each corner, a bit like the original Mini.
There is room on the rear seats for three children and they slide fore and aft by 130mm too, adding to their versatility. The boot floor can be lowered as well giving even more room for luggage.
It feels bright in there too – especially if you specify the optional glass sunroof – and equipment levels are generous. It’s not quite as well built as the best of its competitors – but don’t lose sight of that seven-year warranty, will you?
The Venga rolls a fair bit in the corners but “it’ll hang on gamely” when driven hard. Kia has tuned the suspension for British roads (the European set-up is a bit too harsh for us, apparently) but it can still crash a bit at lower speeds, which is a drawback for what is primarily a low-speed, commuting and city car.
It’s quiet at motorway speeds and the brakes are reassuringly powerful at all speeds. The steering is light and easy.
Although you’re not justified in expecting a thrilling ride and driving experience from a car like the Venga, even for an MPV it’s totally uninspiring and a long way short of being even slightly entertaining. While some may see its forgettable driving experience as something of a plus-point, most modern buyers expect a bit more these days, even from a vehicle like the Kia Venga.
The 1.4-litre petrol engine is underpowered and best avoided. Its bigger brother, the 1.6 petrol engine, is hampered by being bolted to a four-speed automatic gearbox.
The 1.4-litre petrol unit also has a pretty poor 0 to 60 mph time of 13.1 seconds, but even if you can cope with that you are unlikely to be happy with its performance beyond that point. It takes another 13.5 seconds to get from 60 to 80 mph, which is sluggish by just about anyone’s standards.
The best engine, then, is the 1.4 CRDi diesel engine – and not just by default. It gives useful performance and decent fuel economy – most reviewers think it’d be unwise to plump for either of the other two.
The 1.4-litre petrol engine draws a fait bit of criticism; one motoring writer who drove one wrote that: “although we have low expectations of what an 89bhp family runabout can achieve, the Venga proved disappointingly slow during testing”. The 0-60mph time of 13.1 seconds was bad enough but it was “the performance beyond this point that looks a little sluggish.”
80% of the engine’s 101lb ft is available from 1,500rpm, which makes it a flexible engine – and a quiet one too. One reviewer said that it is “an impressively quiet engine at idle and low revs, making the Venga refreshingly refined” although they went on to say that it does become more “strained” at higher revs.
The 1.4-litre diesel engine gives the same 89bhp as the identically-sized petrol engine – but gives a far more generous 163lb ft, which makes it a better and nicer car to drive.
It takes 14 seconds to reach 60mph but the low-to-mid range pull is very impressive (all of the torque is available from just 1,750rpm) making everyday driving and overtaking easy and relaxed.
Fuel consumption should be comfortably in excess of 60mpg, a figure that will be further improved if your car is fitted with Kia’s ‘EcoDynamics ISG’ (Intelligent Stop & Go), which works unobtrusively and can be turned off if you are stuck in a stop-and-go traffic queue.
Emissions are 117g/km and the top speed is 104mph; keeping up with A-road traffic at 60mph is no problem.
The only issue that a few critics had with this 1.4 CRDi is that it is expensive compared to the 1.4 Petrol and that it's a bit noisy.
The Kia Vento’s 1.6-litre petrol engine is a average engine that is somewhat hamstrung by only being offered with the four-speed automatic gearbox; no other gearbox, manual or CVT, is available with this engine even as an option.
It’s output of 123bhp and 115lb ft of torque feels dulled by the slushbox and fails to give the satisfaction that you’d imagine the larger engine would give. The 0-60mph (60mph note, not the ‘continental’ 62mph) acceleration takes a glacial 11.8 seconds, which just isn’t good enough and makes motorway driving an effort.
The fuel consumption should be around 35-40mpg for most owners, which isn’t high enough to compensate for the engine’s drawbacks. The emissions figure of 164g/km is respectable but not groundbreaking either.
The inclusion of front, side and curtain airbags, active anti-whiplash head restraints and stability control in every Kia Venga tells you just how seriously the manufacturer takes safety.
By the very nature of what these vehicles are intended do – carry people – MPVs have to pay serious attention to both active and passive safety systems and the Venga comes out pretty well in this area.
MPVs like the Venga are inherently top-heavy, so it does require some work to make the driver and passengers feel totally safe in them. The Venga gets a five-star Euro NCAP rating for safety, so you can’t really ask for a whole lot more.
The Kia Venga isn’t as cheap to buy as you might imagine but that warranty makes it good value – especially as it’s a nice car to drive and own too. Few people will buy one and be disappointed after seven years.
Even though you have that excellent warranty, don’t expect to get a good trade-in price when the time comes to change as there are so many competitors that will prove more desirable to used buyers.
The high levels of standard safety equipment is a real positive for the car, but whether that actually means the car represents good value for money is debatable. If you need something small to nip around town then the Volkswagen Up or Skoda Citigo make for more complete packages.
For the family motorist on a budget the Venga should be considered, it doesn’t excel in any one area but is a competent, if slightly dull, all-rounder. There are better cars to drive – and the engine choice isn’t that great – but the ownership experience as a whole should be rewarding and trouble free; things that the average family will come to appreciate in a car over the years.
The length of warranty Kia offers puts competitors in the shade, but it means little if you don’t intend to keep your Venga longer than three years. Although it will be good for the next owner, it is unlikely to mean much to you in terms of a stronger resale value.