From £11,145
Good basic concept - but not as good value as other Kia products

What is it?

Kia’s first mini-MPV, the new Venga, which will be built alongside a forthcoming Hyundai sister version in Nosovice, in the Czech Republic.

Mini-MPVs represent the last word in efficient packaging; they have the cargo volume of an estate car, better passenger space than a family hatchback, added cabin flexibility, and they’re available for little more than the price of a basic family runaround. They’re the archetypal autmotive over-deliverers. So it’s odd that it’s taken automotive budget brand Kia so long to launch one; it’s nine years since Honda invented the species with the 2001 Jazz.

The Venga slots into Kia’s range slightly below the firm’s funkier Soul brother. While the latter offers style before substance, the former has a slightly longer wheelbase for greater passenger space, a taller glasshouse and a bigger boot.

The Venga will be offered with a choice of three trim levels and three engines: an 89bhp 1.4-litre petrol, an 89bhp 1.4-litre turbodiesel and an auto-only, 123bhp 1.6-litre petrol. We’re testing the turbodiesel in mid-spec trim here, because Kia expect it to be the biggest seller.

What’s it like?

Although there’s little that’s original about it, the Venga design’s is certainly a well-executed one. Outwardly it looks neat, handsome and contemporary – there’s a certain attractive something of the shrunken Ford S-Max about it.

And inside, the Venga’s got rear seats that fold, slide and recline, a false boot floor, a proliferation of storage cubbies, split A-pillars for improved forward visibility – every trick in the big book of small MPV design, in other words. It’s as roomy and as clever inside as the class standard, if not quite as cavernous or airy as Citroen’s smallest Picasso.

Fit and finish inside the Venga’s cabin is commendable, and like the outside of it, the Venga’s fascia is attractive- and modern-enough not to look cut-price. That impression falls apart a little when you begin to play around with indicator stalks and storage cubby lids; plastics are a little too shiny and hard in places, and too lacking in pleasing texture, to be really convincing.


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We drove the Venga in Rome, where it displayed decent enough handling and manoeuvrability to match its fine visibility. It seemed a little stiff-legged to ride well in the UK, crashing noisily over sharp intrusions and offering little in the way of compliance. However, a subsequent test drive in the UK, in a UK-specced car on specially tuned dampers, assured us that the car will ride more comfortably here, with better rolling refinement and the capacity to soak up more of what British bitumen with throw at it.

This little Kia doesn’t put in the perfect dynamic performance. Like the Soul’s, the Venga’s electric power steering lacks genuine feel and has more weight than is called for. It also sounds and feels quite coarse under heavy throttle, lacking the mechanical refinement of a diesel-powered Citroen C3 Picasso or Nissan Note.

Should I buy one?

Not withstanding its noisy engine, the Venga does enough well enough to be mildly impressive. It would make a very fine cut-price alternative to a C3 Picasso or a Nissan Note, in fact. If only it was cheap enough.

But mainly because Hyundai makes this car on behalf of Kia, it won'’t work out as cheap as its importer originally envisaged. At current published prices, a basic Venga looks likely to cost as much as an entry-level Skoda Roomster or Renault Grand Modus, and more than a basic Honda Jazz or Nissan Note.

Kia will argue that the Venga will be better endowed and better equipped than its competitors model-for-model, and that there are price rises in the pipeline for all of the Venga's rivals due in the next few months.

But it still seems a great shame that it couldn't negotiate a better deal from sister company Hyundai on this car, because if the Venga was only a thousand pounds cheaper, we could see it being very popular. As it is, it's just a pretty but otherwise pretty average little monobox on offer at a pretty unremarkable price.

Join the debate


10 December 2009

Looks ideal to replace our 6 year old Jazz. Distinctly unimpressed with the new Jazz - looks, horrid plastics, stupid boot dividers and dire I-shift gearbox. The Venga design expands on the original Jazz - never considered a KIA, but 7 year warranty is an attraction, Look forward to a test drive. CaptainRick

10 December 2009

Come on Hyudaismoke.

10 December 2009

14K for a small Kia!?

The Venga Bus is coming but I won't be buying.

10 December 2009

"...but 7 year warranty is an attraction..."

Will it be 7 years? Built by Hyundai not Kia.

10 December 2009

I can't agree that the Soul 'puts style over substance.' Admittedly, it's got very distinctive looks, but in what way does it lack substance?

10 December 2009

boom boom boom boom i wnt you in my room! actually i dont but at least its a big improvement to the model it replaces (whatever it is)

11 December 2009

Says 7 years on the website. Designed in Germany -Hyundai built in Europe - as opposed to the RHD Polo, built in South Africa, as is the C class with its's inferior finnish and some 3 series. There is no doubt that the Fiesta etc will have a superior ride/handling, but you pay a price for that with poor equipment/boot/room and who cares about handling if it is mainly a second car for the city. I have never driven a Korean car and might be disappointed, but their design and engineering integrity are undoubtably on the up. NB. All the magazines panned the Jazz in 2002 - just shows that placing handling and ride above all else is b*ll*cks.

12 December 2009

This is a Next gen Rio Plus pretty much Eddie. The Next Gen Euro Rio will be very similar to the look but smaller. The American Rio will be a different animal on the same platform.

Yeah Matt Saunders, I hear things about the unresponsive feel on the Electric power steering on Hyundai/KIA Euro Small cars. They probably are developing a more responsive version.

It would be better if they can get you the small cars cheaper, in which Im in the they should build Euro KIAs in India, and Euro Hyundais in the Czech Republic camp somewhat. However, Hyundai has a history of building cars that are more reliable and with better build quality than KIA globaly, while KIA has a better history of building trucks with better build quality and reliability than Hyundai globally. They are alligning their operations globally to KIA makes Trucks only and Hyundai makes cars only.

Thier goal is also local production for all regional markets North American Products built in North America Euro products built in Europe, etc....

13 December 2009

a lot of people slate kia and hyundai but you got to hand it too them there ranges are pretty good these days and after seeing a road test with the current cee'd it really took me by surprise how good it was and indeed the i20 i30 etc worth a look i would say to any future family man car seeking

16 December 2009

Yes, but is this car really worth £2000 - £2500 more than the Hyundai i20 on which its based. As someone who was seriously considering buying this car for my Father – I’m afraid my answer is no.


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