The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.0
The Kia Venga is a decent package, but it can’t match the best small MPVs on practicality, quality or driver appeal. It’s not all that cheap to buy, either.
Reasons to buy
- Spacious interior
- Affordable to run
- Generous warranty
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
As a small MPV, the Kia Venga faces competition from the likes of the Nissan Note, Honda Jazz and Citroen C3 Picasso. Like those cars, the Venga’s lines are a little boxy, but it still looks reasonably smart. Entry-level 1 models miss out on alloy wheels, so for the smartest looks, you’ll have to go for the more expensive trims.
What's the interior like?
The Venga’s big windows and split windscreen pillars give you a good view of the road ahead. However, although there’s two-way steering adjustment and driver’s seat height adjustment on every model, the range of movement is rather limited. The dash layout could be simpler, too, because the amount of buttons on display makes it hard to find the one you want at a glance. Last, but not least, the Venga doesn’t feel like the classiest car of its type, because too many of the plastics have a hard, scratchy finish.
How practical is it?
The Venga’s high roofline gives everybody generous headroom, and the rear seats slide forwards and backwards to let you maximise either rear legroom or boot space. Even with the seats slid right back, the boot is a good size, although other small MPVs give you more space. The rear seats also fold flat to give you an impressive 1253 litres of cargo space.
What's it like to drive?
Comfort is key in an MPV, and although the ride can feel a little knobbly at low speeds, the Venga is reasonably comfortable in most other situations. The car is pretty grippy in corners, too, but you’ll feel quite a lot of body lean as you make your way round. To make matters worse, the steering feels rather too light and vague at higher speeds as well, and the notchy gearshift makes your low-speed progress more of a chore than it should be.
How powerful is it?
Four engines are available in the Venga – two petrol and two diesel – and the entry-level petrol unit, a 1.4 with 89bhp, is the pick of them. Its eager, flexible nature really suits the car, and it’s the smoothest, quietest engine on offer. You won’t really notice the increase in power you get from the 123bhp 1.6, especially if you specify it with the four-speed automatic gearbox. The entry-level diesel, a 1.4 with 89bhp, feels rather too flat and gives off far too much noise and vibration. We haven’t yet tried the other diesel, a 1.6 with 114bhp.
How much will it cost me?
The Venga isn’t particularly cheap to buy, and the car’s relatively weak resale values will make owning one even more expensive in the long term. Fuel costs are about average for the class, and the 1.6 diesel is the cleanest, with economy of 64mpg, while the smaller diesel returns 63mpg. The 1.4 petrol betters 50mpg according to official figures, but the 1.6 petrol is thirstier, especially when combined with the automatic gearbox.
How reliable is it?
Kia has a strong reputation for reliability, so it’s a little surprising that the manufacturer ranks no better than mid-table in Warranty Direct’s manufacturer standings. That said, you do have the security and peace of mind of a seven-year warranty..
How safe is it?
Standard safety kit includes stability control and six airbags across the range. When the Venga was first crash tested by Euro NCAP in early 2010 it was awarded a four-star rating. However, Kia was not satisfied with this result and implemented updates to the car, including structural changes, seatbelt restraint adjustments and slight modifications to the rear seat. When it was tested again later in the same year, the Venga achieved a maximum five stars.
How much equipment do I get?
Entry-level 1 trim comes with remote locking, electric front windows and a stereo with steering wheel controls and a USB socket, but you have to upgrade to 1 Air if you want air-con. Our favourite trim is 2, with its powered rear windows, alloy wheels and Bluetooth, while the metallic interior inserts and leather steering wheel also give the cabin a lift. Beyond that, 3 trim adds climate and cruise controls, along with part-leather upholstery and reversing sensors. No prizes for guessing what 3 Sat Nav models add.
Because you want MPV-style space and practicality in a supermini-sized package. However, plenty of other cars offer that, and many do it better than the Venga.