From £11,145
Only good if you’ve got an auto-only driving licence, or limited mobility in your left leg

Our Verdict

Kia Venga
The Venga is Kia's first B-segment MPV

The Kia Venga is a good but unexceptional mini-MPV that’s disappointingly expensive

  • First Drive

    2015 Kia Venga 1.4 CRDi SR7 review

    Looking for a practical, no-nonsense car for ferrying the family about? This facelifted Kia Venga could be an option, but is it better than its rivals?
  • First Drive

    Kia Venga 1.4 1

    The cheapest Venga is also the sweetest

What is it?

A rather odd, expensive and undesirable version of the new Kia Venga mini-MPV – and one that shows exactly how much ground this up-and-coming Korean brand still has to make up on certain better-established European car makers.

The 1.6-litre petrol version of the Venga is the most powerful in the range. Conventional wisdom would dictate that it should also be the range-topper, therefore, and in other European markets it will be, offered with a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes.

Here in the UK, though, you’ll only be able to get a 1.6-litre Venga with a four-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox, and only in mid-spec ‘Venga 2’ guise. Kia estimates that less than 10 per cent of Venga buyers will opt for the car, which equates to fewer than 200 customers a year. We’d describe that as an optimistic gambit.

What’s it like?

Waterproof teabags? A soluble lifeboat? In a car like the Venga, a four-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox is of marginally more use than the above, but not much.

That’s because, compared with the latest self-shifting transmissions, this gearbox feels slow and outmoded, and does little to flatter this car’s willing and reasonably refined petrol engine.

Truth be told, if you’re prepared to stroke this car along gently, it makes a compact and easy-to-drive supermini for use in the city, with good all-round visibility, a roomy cabin and boot, and a reasonably contemporary and rich-looking interior.

That will make it quite attractive to a certain type of driver who spends the majority of time bumbling around town, and who demands nothing more of their car than for it to be an inexpensive, reliable, spacious, undemanding and pleasant means of getting from A (almost certainly a pebble-dashed suburban bungalow) to B (the local post office, garden centre or bingo hall, we’d guess).

For those of us who make greater demands on the performance of our cars, however, the Venga 1.6 seems something of an under-deliverer.

Although that gearbox allows you to make acceptable progress in town, it limits the performance of the car’s 123bhp engine to the extent that this car feels slower than both 1.4-litre versions of the Venga out on the open road.

It’s less refined than the smaller petrol too, because in order to motivate it to move anything other than sedately you’ll spend more of your time beyond 4000rpm than you would in the five-speed 1.4. Overtaking on the motorway is much a noisier and slower process than you might expect it to be.

And on our test route, the old-tech torque converter in this car hobbled its economy as well as its performance. On a mainly urban and quite congested route our Venga auto returned an average 26.5mpg. Its return would have been better had we spent longer out of town, but we’re not sure how much better.

Should I buy one?

Perhaps – if you’re in love with the Kia Venga, but you’ve got an auto-only driving licence, or limited motility in your left leg. Otherwise, both of the cheaper versions of the Venga are significantly better and represent much better value for money than this car, the 1.4 petrol particularly so. It’s got an unusually slick and satisfying manual gearchange for a supermini, too.

As for other, more modern and efficient two-pedal superminis like the DSG version of the new VW Polo – well, they rather suggest that small torque-converter automatic cars like the Venga 1.6 won’t be with us for very much longer. And this tester doesn’t think many of us will miss them.

Join the debate

Comments
74

23 December 2009

A few to add to your list for future use: Chocolate teapot, Chocolate Fireguard, Catflap on a submarine, Breasts on fish (was not allowed to use the naughty "t" word) Why oh why use a 4 speed torque converter when there are now better options out there (dual clutch semis, CVTs, 5 speed torque converters). Then again, Ford are guilty of the same with their auto fiesta and they didn't even have the decency to hook it up to a 1.6! Edited to add: bah humbug, back on google chrome as IE is awful and this forum posting loses all its formatting! Humbug!

23 December 2009

This would have been the perfect car for Hyundai/KIA to test out their new 6 speed small car Auto tranny, and their new small car paddle shiftting tranny as well. I guess Hyundai only gets those. This would have also been a great car to test that 1.6 GDI out that gives 150 bhp, and much better fuel economy.

KIA needs to hurry up with the 2.0 Variant of this Venga. You guys may like a 1.4, but to me in a car this big and heavy the 1.4 Gamma they use over in Europe sounds like a little bit of a stretch. Its astonishing that you think that's a better variant than the 1.6. Well, at least they know better not to give you guys 3 cyl Accent Diesels anymore.

23 December 2009

this seems hugely expensive and dare i say not very pretty have seen better from the koreans but then i have seen a lot worse!

23 December 2009

This Venga bus is coming

and it really is quite humming...

Where has all Japanese design went to?

23 December 2009

[quote HyundaiSmoke] This would have also been a great car to test that 1.6 GDI out that gives 150 bhp, and much better fuel economy.[/quote] You know this is a B-segment mini-MPV right? Demand for high-power diesels is pretty minimal I would think. 86bhp in the Note and Modus, 90 in the C3 Picasso...

[quote HyundaiSmoke]KIA needs to hurry up with the 2.0 Variant of this Venga. You guys may like a 1.4, but to me in a car this big and heavy the 1.4 Gamma they use over in Europe sounds like a little bit of a stretch.[/quote] Seriously, how big do you think this car is?!

23 December 2009

Should I buy one? Perhaps – if you’re in love with the Kia Venga, but you’ve got an auto-only driving licence, or limited motility in your left leg. Otherwise, both of the cheaper versions of the Venga are significantly better and represent much better value for money than this car, the 1.4 petrol particularly so. It’s got an unusually slick and satisfying manual gearchange for a supermini, too. I think Autocar are missing the point here. How many Kia owners buy Autocar and have an ounce of interest in bhp? Not many. Now the British Car industry has died, the Japanee one is struggling we have two mighty Korean companies providing stylish affordable cars that people who are not snobs actually want to own. Will the Venga do well? No doubt it will do better than a Porsche & Jaguar loving magazine expect.

23 December 2009

[quote Mr£4worth]How many Kia owners buy Autocar and have an ounce of interest in bhp? Not many. Now the British Car industry has died, the Japanee one is struggling we have two mighty Korean companies providing stylish affordable cars that people who are not snobs actually want to own. Will the Venga do well? No doubt it will do better than a Porsche & Jaguar loving magazine expect.[/quote]

I take your point but the problem for kia is that cars like the C3 Picasso do it better and for no more money. If it was a couple of thousand pounds cheaper it would be easiler to recommed.

Yes the Kia has a long warranty but I doubt that many people will but the car just because it has a long warranty, I know I wouldn't.

23 December 2009

[quote HyundaiSmoke]KIA needs to hurry up with the 2.0 Variant of this Venga. [/quote]

It certainly should hasten, we, us European guys that is, can barely stand waiting for it ANY LONGER!


23 December 2009

Yes but what does it smell like inside! all the Korean cars I've been in always pong of glue and god knows what..... Plus it will lose value like a brick been dropped from a roof, a 2ed hand Vauxhall will be worth more in 1/2/3 years time. Plus what are costs to service vs the normal makes, high I bet. A family member has a Hyundai 'something' and his local cost £120 per hour! More then even local Volvo or Jag dealers cost. Plus is car is worth next to nothing and only 4 years old with 38k on clock. Avoid all Pacific Rimmers...... walking is better.... Mr Clarkson has always said and his right you know. James.

23 December 2009

A few years ago, due to a change in my wife's mobility, I needed a family-sized auto. I'd have liked an Octavia, but they were rare at anything like the price I was aiming to pay. An ex-motability Kia Shuma came up locally. Top Gear magazine described it as "bottom of the food chain", but I bought it anyway. Yes, it had "acres of grey plastic". Perhaps you could have described the handling as "stodgy". However, it was absolutely reliable for the 72000 miles that I had it. You may say that you'd rather have a something else that broke down once a week than drive a Kia. Fair enough, each unto his or her own. I've always had a silly weekend car anyway.

As to slush boxes, how reliable are DSG type boxes? Teg had a post about them a while ago. At the same time as owning the Kia, my wife had a Corsa with an Easytronic gearbox. It was more economical than a slush box, but it was awful- jerky, couldn't hold on hills and so forth. There's a lot to be said for a smooth, robust conventional auto, at least until other technology is fully proven.

I hope that, unlike other new Kias, the auto Venga does depreciate steeply. I was wondering what to replace my current Nissan with in three year's time!

"There's a fine line between wrong and visionary. Unfortunately, you have to be a visionary to see it." - Dr Sheldon Cooper

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run