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Expert Review

Kia Venga hatchback (2015 - ) review

The Venga is a small MPV aimed at families looking for a practical, affordable alternative to the likes of the Honda Jazz and Ford B-Max

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

3.1

The Venga isn’t a bad car, but Kia’s small MPV is old and feels it compared to more contemporary rivals. It’s practical, but it’s hard to recommend buying it over something newer and, frankly, better.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickSpacious interior
  • tickAffordable to run
  • tickGenerous warranty

At a glance:

How good does it look?

The Venga doesn’t exactly leap out from the crowd, but the styling is inoffensive and some tweaks during its life have kept it looking fairly fresh. The models are simple to understand; the entry-level version is called the 1, and the top-end model is called the 4. Unsurprisingly, there are two more models in between. All models get tinted glass and a rear spoiler. Opt for the 1 and you’ll get steel wheels and indicators on the wing, while 2, 3 and 4 models have 16-inch alloys and indicators in the wing mirror housings. The 4 also has chrome door handles and a panoramic sunroof, while both the 3 and 4 have LED daytime running lights, but whichever version you fancy, you’ll have to pay extra for metallic paint.
Expert rating: 3/5

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 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. Higher-end 3 and 4 models get a 7.0-inch touch-screen infotainment system with satellite-navigation, which isn’t the flashiest around, but is easy to use.
Expert rating: 2/5

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. Its maximum space with the seats up is 444 litres - more than in the Honda Jazz and the Ford B-Max. Those rear seats fold in a 60:40 split on all models, and when you fold them flat, the boot capacity rises to an impressive 1486 litres of cargo space. In the cabin, there’s a handy cubby hole underneath the centre console, reasonable door pockets (in the front only in the entry-level 1) and a couple of cup holders.
Expert rating: 4/5

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, and body roll is fairly well contained, although the tall body means a touch more lean than other small car rivals that you might be considering, such as the Nissan Micra. However, the steering feels rather too light and vague at higher speeds, and the notchy gearshift makes your low-speed progress more of a chore than it should be.
Expert rating: 3/5

How powerful is it?

There are two petrol and two diesel options in the Venga and we think the 1.4-litre petrol with 90PS is the pick of them. Its eager, flexible nature really suits the car, and it’s the smoothest, quietest engine on offer, although annoyingly it’s only available on entry-level 1 and 2 models. You won’t really notice the increase in power you get from the 125PS 1.6, especially if you specify it with the four-speed automatic gearbox, but if you want one of the higher trim levels, then it’s the only petrol engine on offer. The entry-level diesel, a 1.4 with 90PS, feels rather underpowered and gives off far too much noise and vibration. We haven’t yet tried the other diesel, a 1.6 with 115PS.
Expert rating: 3/5

How much will it cost me?

Despite its age, the Venga stacks up well against its rivals when it comes to overall running costs. It’s broadly similar in terms of purchase price to rivals like the Honda Jazz and slightly cheaper than Ford’s B-Max. The Jazz will hold its value better and therefore be cheaper to run, but the Venga isn’t a poor choice, financially at least.
Expert rating: 4/5

How reliable is it?

We don’t have any data on the Venga specifically, but Kia has a reasonable reputation for reliability, sitting mid-table in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, which ranks manufacturers. Our Auto Trader owner reviews have also been largely positive. Should you face any issues, Kia provides an outstanding seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty on all new cars.
Expert rating: 4/5

How safe is it?

The Venga scored a maximum five stars in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP, but that was back in 2010 and standards have moved on considerably since then. However, across the range, all models come with six airbags and two Isofix child seat mounting points in the back. More modern active safety systems like automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist aren’t available, though.
Expert rating: 3/5

How much equipment do I get?

Although the Venga is getting on in years, Kia has put quite a bit of kit into the car to tempt customers. The entry-level 1 comes in two versions – one with air conditioning and one without – and includes USB and AUX connectors for the sound system, but no Bluetooth. Bluetooth is fitted to all other models, but unusually, DAB radio isn’t an option on any version. The 2 gets air-con, rear electric windows, rear parking sensors and nicer cloth upholstery while the 3 gets a reversing camera, cooled glovebox for keeping drinks (or gloves) cold, part-leather upholstery with heated seats, and cruise control with a speed limiter. Splash out on the top-of-the-range 4 and you’ll get a heated steering wheel and keyless entry and start.
Expert rating: 3/5

Why buy?

It’s hard to make a convincing case to buy the Venga, despite the fact that its purchase and running costs are reasonable and it’s a practical machine. However, it’s getting old in today’s market and there are several newer rivals that do a better job overall.
Expert rating: 2/5

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