Kia Venga

Kia Venga lr


By Tim Saunders

I like surprises.

When I took delivery of the Kia Venga, the mini MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle), I don’t mind revealing that I was just a little bit disappointed by its small size. In fact I thought I was going to have to re-evaluate what we took on holiday and leave much of our luggage for our trip to Cornwall, at home.

But what I quickly realised was that Kia has produced a compact car that is indeed a surprise. It is no wonder that the manufacturer has come up with “the power to surprise” as its all important marketing strap line. The Venga is perhaps taller than its rivals and uses space more cleverly because it has a deep boot that easily accommodates all the Saunders family paraphernalia. I like the fact that the rear seats slide back and forth allowing more or less legroom as the need arises.

It is a strange name for a car though and I have absolutely no idea what it means. But even two year old daughter Heidi can remember it and so it’s clearly a good one.

It’s a long journey from Hampshire to Cornwall, some 250 miles taking over five hours, if you’re lucky. In fact on the return journey it takes closer to eight thanks to some horrendous roadworks on the A30 in Cornwall where the road is being widened into a dual carriageway. And then as we make our way into Dorset there is gridlock due to the sheer volume of traffic. It seems that all the money poured into new roads for the Olympics in this part of the world have had absolutely no effect whatsoever. Working from home now I am stunned at the amount of traffic on Britain’s roads.

But the Venga copes admirably throughout this demanding road test. It cruises on the motorway with little road noise and its air conditioning keeps us all cool during some of the hottest temperatures of the summer. The 1.4 diesel SR7 model tested is equipped with a six speed manual gearbox and in third gear is surprisingly punchy. However, at times, Cornwall’s hills really do prove a challenge to this little car resulting in me having to change into first to conquer them. Leave it in second and there is just not enough momentum to carry you forward. But use the gears correctly and it pleases. When in a gear that the Venga does not like there is a protest of rattling plastic from the steering column. It’s pretty frugal returning over 40mpg over the course of the trip. Bearing in mind this is a car that costs under £15,000 new, expectations cannot be too high but although the interior is perhaps bland and plasticky it is nevertheless comfortable and I can report that I do not have back or neck ache when we arrive in Cornwall. That cannot be said of some vehicles costing four times this amount. You cannot help noticing the lack of a sat-nav but frankly we don’t miss it because you cannot rely on them anyway. There are four electric windows and electrically adjustable wing mirrors. The wing mirrors themselves can be manually folded which is especially helpful when unloading in a particularly tight spot in St Mawes. The roads here are so narrow that when you drop off or collect tailbacks quickly form. It’s a nightmare. But thankfully folk in this part of the world are used to queuing and there is no beeping of horns whatsoever, even when it takes us 10 minutes to all get in the car!

Externally the little Venga is an attractive looking car and there is even a chrome grille which is a very nice touch.

Overall, this car should appeal to the budget conscious young family in need of a versatile vehicle. I would certainly consider it.

And for this reason it is crowned the best family car in my Family Cars book available in ebook, paperback and hardback from amazon.

Facts at a glance
Kia Venga 1.4CRDi SR7
Used price: Upto £12,000
Top speed: 104mph
0-60mph: 14secs
Economy: around 40mpg


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