Kia's little Venga makes big impression

by Steve WalkerKorean Kia is intent on giving its products a European flavour and the Venga supermini multi-purpose vehicle is one of its more successful efforts to date.

by Steve Walker

Korean Kia is intent on giving its products a European flavour and the Venga supermini multi-purpose vehicle is one of its more successful efforts to date.

A four-square stance and neat detailing ensures it doesn't fall into the frumpy trap that captures many MPV products, plus there's a good engine range and some clever design touches inside. Stop-start technology will generate headlines and Kia's warranty should continue to please owners.

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For the UK the Venga comes with the choice of 1.4-litre petrol and 1.4-litre turbo diesel engines both mated to a five speed manual gearbox, and a 1.6-litre petrol with four-speed automatic transmission.

Both the 1.4-litre petrol and 1.4-litre CRDi diesel produce peak power of 89bhp. The diesel has a healthy 220Nm of torque between 1,750 and 2,750rpm, against the 1.4 petrol's 137Nm, and dispatches the 0-60mph sprint in 14 seconds, going on to a top speed of 104mph, yet able to return 62.8mpg on the combined cycle. The 1.4 petrol takes 12.4 seconds 0-60mph, has a top speed of 104mph and does 45.6mpg combined.

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The diesel features EcoDynamics fuel-saving, CO2-cutting technology including Intelligent Stop and Go, which switches off the engine when the car is at a standstill and in neutral and restarts it when the clutch pedal is pressed.

The automatic 124bhp 1.6-litre petrol needs 11.8 seconds to reach 60mph from rest, has a top speed of 110mph and does 40.4mpg combined.

The supermini MPV presents car designers with a difficult problem. Superminis are small and MPVs are practical but achieving both smallness and practicality together in the same car is quite a challenge. To get the maximum from its modest dimensions, the Venga employs a long wheelbase that pushes its four wheels right out to the corners of the vehicle. Despite being only 4,068mm long, the Venga has a wheelbase that's just 35mm down on the cee'd five-door, a car that's a good 200mm longer overall.

As well as maximising the amount of space that the interior designers have to play with, the Venga's wheel-at-each-corner stance helps give the car a purposeful, bottom-heavy look out on the road. The bodywork tapers out towards the base of the vehicle and the side window line rises, curling up sharply at the rear. With the distinctive Kia grille and the high-mounted headlights, it goes to make the car a more distinctive sight than we've become used to in the small MPV sector.

Looking the part is all well and good but it's inside where any vehicle touting itself as an MPV must stand or fall. The Venga's cabin is certainly roomy with as much legroom as the cee'd five-door and a boot that substantially trumps that car's at 440 litres. Kia has put particular thought into how owners will accommodate their luggage and the boot area can be extended to 570 litres by sliding the rear seat forward, or through the two-tier boot floor even before you get involved in folding rear seats down.

When you are forced to use Kia's Fold & Dive seating system, the 60/40 split rear seats drop to create a flat load floor with a 1,552mm load length and a 1,253-litre capacity.


PRICE: �11,495 to �15,395 on the road

PERFORMANCE: 1.4 CRDi, 89bhp, 0-60mph 14 seconds; top speed 104mph

1.4 petrol, 89bhp, 0-60mph 12.4 seconds; top speed 104mph.

MPG: 1.4 CRDi 62.8 combined; 1.4 petrol 45.6 combined

EMISSIONS: 117 to 164g/km

INSURANCE GROUPS (1 TO 50): 8 to 11

WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE: Length 4,068mm; width 1,765mm; height 1,600mm

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