1.4 CRDi 3 EcoDynamics
is now so widespread
that car manufacturers have
capitalised on the concept.
Need something more compact?
With more room than your previous
car, more fuel-efficient and less
expensive? No problem we have
just the Venga for you...
MOST POPULAR WITH DOWNSIZERS are the stretched supermini (Ford Fiesta-sized)
hatchbacks that, due to increased headroom and load space flexibility and often
with the added benefit of sliding rear seats, are closer to personalised MPVs
and as such perfect for families or single-nesters who like to keep all the
Cars like Kia's Venga. Designed by Kia's ex-Audi design director, Peter Schreyer,
this tall, good-looking five-door hatchback packs a long wheelbase into its
overall length. And, like a Russian nesting doll, into the long wheelbase is
packed a versatile cabin into which can be packed four passengers and a driver.
A neat trick given the Venga's four-metre overall length.
Climb aboard and you won't think 'downsizing' for longer than it takes to admire
the black-themed cabin with just enough silver chrome highlights to stay on
the right side of tasteful. A deep fascia and a centre stack, that merges neatly
with the raised gear lever housing, keeps all major switchgear, including the
'all-in-one' climate control unit, within easy reach of the driver and a cinch
to use on the move.
digital strip along the top of the centre stack displays average mpg, range,
trip data, external temperature and the time. The air vents are nicely damped
with rubberised control wheels, and instrument graphics are crystal clear.
most appropriately in
the rear cabin...
Upholstered in a black fabric with workmanlike side bolstering and subtle but
smart grey piping, the sporty-looking seats, set high off the floor, are very
comfy with good under-knee support. For sure, Venga drivers aren't hard done
by a good range of driving positions is possible thanks to the
height-adjustable seat, height and reach adjustment of the grained leather,
multi-function steering wheel and height-adjustable front seat belts. Appreciated
too is the dedicated inner armrest that, commendably, doesn't get in the way
of the traditional handbrake.
Plus there's plenty of room in all directions particularly welcome
around the knee area. Another big plus point is A1 visibility ahead (even though
you can't see the bonnet; only the base of the windscreen) and to the sides,
helped significantly by the distinctive teardrop-shaped quarter-lights.
It's also very airy aboard the Venga out test model came with
a panoramic glass roof that starts at the header rail and runs all the way back
to above the rear headrests. The front section slides open (or, should you prefer,
tilts) at the touch of a one-shot button. Concertina baffles minimise noise
and draughts from the sides of the roof when in the tilt position. Another nice
touch; each half of the roof has its own dedicated sunblind.
As befits a family-orientated car there's an impressive array of storage solutions,
starting with a large glovebox with cupholders on its inner lid and on the upper
shelf. Deep open bins separate the front seats and together hold a remarkable
amount of 'stuff', as do the large door pockets.
The Venga's stand-out feature interior space confirms
its 'fit-for-families' character; most appropriately in the rear cabin. Here
passengers can enjoy stepped backrests and a fold-down centre armrest along
with outer armrests in the door panels. A fourth 'opera' rear side window lets
in extra light. More good news: the rear window glasses retract fully into the
doors, there's loads of leg and knee room as well as good foot room under the
front seats, and ample space for bottles in the door pockets.
60:40 split/fold back seats slide and recline: even with them set to a mid-point
there's adequate legroom for adults; with them all the way back even very tall
adults can stretch out, then get even more comfortable thanks to the adjustable
seven-position reclining backrests. All this and generous headroom too!
the watchword inside the
sliding rear seats allow
for easy adjustment of
'Versatile' is definitely the watchword inside the Venga's deceptively compact
bodyshell: the fore-and-aft sliding rear seats allow for easy adjustment of
the people-to-parcels ratio. If they want to, rear passengers can enjoy an extra
130mm (approximately five inches) of lateral room; alternatively, if parcels
(or luggage or a carryout from the local DIY store) needs to take priority,
an extra 130mm of load bay space is there for the taking.
The rear 'piggy-in-the-middle' spot has a proper belt and headrest and, thanks
to there being no transmission tunnel, offers good foot room and makes it peasant
to use. As in every car, with five on board this position is always better for
kids than adults. And there's even a benefit for the driver: the three rear
headrests all sit low on the seatback when not in use.
Another welcome touch is the two-tier boot just what the doctor
ordered for those times you must take passengers but need that extra bit of
cargo space over the standard 444 litres.
By lowering the boot floor shelf the boot is expanded to a more accommodating
570 litres. Position the shelf at its uppermost point and it sits level with
the rest of the loadbay floor. In this setting you can also utilise the 126-litre
'lower' boot which provides a useful out-of-sight underfloor locker
accessed easily via a pair of lift-up 'lids' that together form the two linked
halves of the movable boot floor panel. Dip deeper and you'll find a 'skinny'
Also making life simple are fold 'n' dive rear seats: at the pull of a lever
they fold into the floor (with headrests in-situ) to create a very spacious
1,253-litre cargo bay that has the added benefit of a completely flat, full-length
The Venga offers a choice of three powerplants, all four-cylinder units: two
petrol (89bhp 1.4 and 124bhp 1.6) or, as tested here, an 89bhp 1.4 diesel. Given
some of the high power outputs present in many even quite ordinary cars these
days, 89bhp doesn't sound that much. That said, the MINI One diesel (1.6-litre)
manages very well with 90bhp.
takes the 1.4 CRDi Venga 14 seconds to reach 60mph from standstill but its 163lb
ft of torque, available from 1,750rpm, makes it fairly strong and flexible at
low to mid range. It's also more than capable of keeping up with the traffic
on 50+mph A-roads.
not too hard on the
On paper this model
should average as much
Add to that a decent set of gear ratios in the six-speed manual 'box along with
a light and positive change action and it's easy to make the most of what's
under the Venga's bonnet. For a 1.4-litre diesel unit it's also pleasantly muted
at both tickover and low revs.
And not too hard on the jungle-juice, either. On paper this model should average
as much as 62.8mpg (urban 54.3, extra-urban 70.6mpg). Our test model was fitted
with Kia's EcoDynamics ISG (Intelligent Stop & Go). Helpfully, for those
times you're stuck in a slow-moving queue, it can be switched off. Other fuel-saving
measures include fully electric power steering.
On the road, our test car returned an overall figure of 44.7mpg which, given
our punishing driving style, should represent a can-do-better figure for the
average Venga owner. We don't want to win any prizes for driving economically
because we'd rather tell you a worst-case figure one you can,
like the Beatles, make better.
Downsizing to a Venga doesn't mean foregoing all life's little pleasures. Even
standard kit includes air conditioning, driver's seat height adjustment, tilt
and reach adjustable steering wheel, powered front windows and tinted glass.
The ice is nice: a decent quality audio system with RDS radio/CD (MP3-compatible)
and six speakers along with AUX and USB ports.
With prices starting at £11,495 and topping out at £15,500, most buyers can
afford to move up a trim level. Trim levels are foolproof: '1', '2' and '3'.
Models with level 2 trim come with 16-inch alloys, powered and heated door mirrors,
steering wheel-mounted audio controls and an iPod cable.
Venga 3 versions have climate control, four power windows (one-shot auto up/down
for the driver), panoramic electric sunroof and privacy glass to the rear windows
and rear screen.
so the Venga ticks the right boxes for flexibility and running costs but is
there a satisfaction penalty once you're behind the wheel?
has gone to the
trouble of tuning
for British roads and
a fairly good job theyve
From time to time one needs to re-state the obvious: people who buy an economical
family car aren't the same people who buy a BMW M3. Venga customers will have
a totally different perspective on the world and won't be flinging their family
wheels around a track on weekends.
No, that doesn't mean the Venga is unexciting to drive. Be guided by an expert:
Michael Schumacher likes to tell the story of how he learnt his core driving
skills in a Fiat 500 (one of the originals, not the current retro-remake).
Kia has gone to the trouble of tuning the Venga's suspension for British roads
and a fairly good job they've done, too. Spring rates are stiff-ish
but most big bumps are heard rather than felt, and those aboard are rarely disturbed.
A broad track and low stance helps makes the 1.6m tall Venga a good deal more
nimble than first impressions would have you expect; body roll is well contained,
the grip good and it feels reassuringly attached to the blacktop when cornering.
The steering is fine certainly fit for purpose and
the brakes (discs all round; vented up front) provide the reliable and reassuring
stopping ability you'd want from a family car. All in all, the Venga proved
to be an unexpectedly non-boring drive.
Venga customers, especially those with families, will also be pleased to know
that downsizing Kia-style does not mean compromising your personal safety: front,
side and curtain airbags are fitted as are active front head restraints and
two ISOFIX child seat mounting points. Out of sight there's ABS with Electronic
Brake-force Distribution, Electronic Stability Control, Brake Assist and Traction
Control to keep you safe.
There's far more to the Venga than meets the eye, beginning with it's unexpectedly
generous interior space. Add in its compact on-road footprint, comprehensive
and versatile seating/cargo-carrying flexibility, high safety specification
and Kia's seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty and the Venga is clearly not a downsize
too far. MotorBar
Kia Venga 1.4 CRDi 3 EcoDynamics | £15,360
Maximum speed: 104mph | 0-60mph: 14 seconds | Overall Test MPG:
Power: 89bhp | Torque: 163lb ft | CO2 117g/km