Kia Venga: small car, big on space

Kia's cute Venga is a small car that's big on space and practicality, says ANDY RUSSELLThe appeal of small cars is growing both in sales and space and versatility.

Kia's cute Venga is a small car that's big on space and practicality, says ANDY RUSSELL

The appeal of small cars is growing both in sales and space and versatility.

There's no better time to reassess your motoring needs than when you're feeling the financial squeeze and the trend is for downsizing to a smaller car. But downsizing doesn't have to mean driving downgrading in terms of practicality or equipment.


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So the all-new Venga comes at a good time for Kia, already riding high after the scrappage scheme with sales up 140pc year on year, and joins a host of revamped or completely redesigned models in its increasingly modern, youthful range.

The Venga plugs a gap in Kia's range for those people who want a supermini-sized car with clever packaging that gives it the interior space of a bigger car. But it's stressing that Venga is not a conventional mini multi-purpose vehicle which are often rather boxy in profile - certainly not the case with Venga, with its cute curves and contours giving it a pleasing look.

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Sensible engine options see 89bhp 1.4-litre petrol and turbo diesel engines and a 124bhp 1.6-litre petrol automatic.

Unless you're going to cover high mileage, the 1.4 petrol is the best bet, flexible enough to trickle along in city traffic in a high gear to keep changes to a minimum - just as well as the shift is not the most precise - but peppy enough on the open road to be revved for decent performance while remaining smooth and refined. Mixed driving, with a lot of rush-hour commuting, saw 40mpg overall which should improve with longer runs.

With its long wheelbase and wheels pushed well out to the corners of the car, the Venga feels stable on twisty road, cornering reasonably flatly with decent levels of grip.

The ride is generally comfortable but is sensitive to poor road surfaces, leaving you under no illusion of what's going on beneath the wheels with increased levels of tyre and suspension noise.

While Kia says the Venga doesn't look like a conventional mini-MPV, it certainly has the practical carrying capacity of one. The tall body provides loads of headroom and 60/40 split rear seats that slide fore and aft through 130mm allow abundant rear legroom when boot space is not a priority.

A wide cabin means three won't feel cramped in the back and with a flat floor the middle passenger won't be straddling a hump. Rear seat backs can also be reclined for extra comfort. High seats make getting in and out easier than in a standard supermini and there's good all-round visibility, particularly of the road ahead.

The two-tier boot sees the floor at bumper height in normal use so it's easy to get things in and out and, with up to 444 litres of space, it is a useful load bay with underfloor storage space for the nick-nacks. When more load space is needed the lightweight floor can be easily removed and set lower making the boot 163mm deeper and taking total capacity of 570 litres. For larger loads simply pull a lever on top of the seat backs and the cushions drop down and backs fold completely flat and lock into place giving 1,486 litres of cargo space.

The dashboard has a modern feel and although the plastics are hard to the touch it's well finished and attractive. Dials are easy to take in at a glance and although the heating and ventilation controls with buttons and rotary knobs forming one unit of circles of decreasing size take a little getting use to they show design flair. There is also plenty of storage and if you like your gadgets you'll love the standard MP3 jackpoint and USB port and two 12-volt power sockets so you can charge a mobile phone and sat-nav at the same time.

Three trim levels are offered - 1, 2 and 3 - and, as we have come to expect of Kia, all are well equipped for the money.

Entry-level 1 comes with air-conditioning, six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, driver's seat height adjustment, electric front windows, radio/CD with MP3 jackpoint and USB port, remote central locking and that sliding split rear seat.

Venga 2 gains 16in alloy wheels, power and heated door mirrors, iPod cable and steering wheel-mounted audio controls while Venga 3 gets climate control, electric rear windows, front fog lamps, a panoramic electric sunroof and rear privacy glass.

The Venga is a pleasing car, with its clever interior packaging making it feel much bigger than the exterior suggests, while Kia's industry-leading 100,000-mile, seven-year warranty will give owners peace of mind.

Kia Venga 2 1.4 petrol

Price: �12,695

Engine: 1,396cc, 89bhp, four-cylinder petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 12.4 seconds; top speed 104mph

MPG: Urban 37.7; extra urban 51.4; combined 45.6

Emissions: 147g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 18pc

Insurance group: 8 (out of 50)

Warranty: 7 years/100,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,068mm; width 1,765mm; height 1,600mm

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