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Kia Venga 3 1.6 CRDi

Click to view picture gallery“Kias Venga might be a supermini
  but it not only comes nicely gift-
  wrapped but its smart-looking
  exterior is wrapped around genuine
  MPV-sized space. And now, along
  with a refreshed look, the 13-model
  line-up offers more kit plus 1.6-litre
  diesel power providing 60+mpg

BASED ON THE SAME PLATFORM underpinning Kia's Soul and Rio models, the Venga is some 37mm shorter than the Soul crossover but beats it with a 65mm longer wheelbase which is very good news for the Venga's passenger-friendly cabin space and overall versatility.

Looks-wise the Venga is pretty distinctive thanks to large, swept-back headlamps and a sharply sloping bonnet that flows harmoniously into the windscreen and four-pane glasshouse, all made more striking by the slim, kicked-up rear three-quarter pillars. Pronounced, muscular wheel arches wrapped around five-blade alloy wheels complete the design package.

“An all-glass, two-piece
sliding panoramic
electric sunroof covers
almost the entire roof — open or closed,
it makes the Venga a
feel-good place to be.
At a smidgen (okay, to be totally accurate, 68mm) over four metres long, the Venga fits a lot into its compact footprint: two in the front and three in the back is nothing revolutionary but inside it utilises every millimetre to make itself as spacious as cars from the class above. In most vehicles, being allocated a seat in the second row often makes you feel like a second-class citizen.

Not so in the Venga. The rear seats are smartly upholstered and there's a wide and well-padded central armrest, plus plenty of headroom (at 1.6m, the Venga is taller than conventional family hatchbacks). And stretch-space too around your knees and feet.

In addition, the reclinable back seats slide fore and aft by up to 130mm, so there's generous legroom for lounging — or extra room for cargo. Plus it's brilliantly light and airy thanks to the standard-fit (on top '3' trim versions) all-glass, two-piece sliding panoramic electric sunroof that covers almost the entire roof. Open or closed, it makes the Venga a feel-good place to be.

Seen from outside, and with the Venga's short rear overhang (useful when parking!), it may appear that there's not much room for luggage. But pop open the wide tailgate and you'll find 440 litres — better than many far bigger cars and more than enough for the family's weekly, no make that monthly, shop (naturally there's a shopping hook); and equally accommodating when it comes to packing in those staycation cases.

Still not quite enough with the rear seats in use? No problem: the Venga's boot has a two-tier floor. Simply remove the floor panel and the boot is instantly 163mm taller to give a total boot capacity of 570 litres.

And for those times when you need every inch of carrying space for a garden centre pick-up or DIY project, you can just pull a lever and watch the 60:40 split rear seats 'fold and dive' into the floor — giving you a 1,552mm long, 1,253-litre loadbay with a totally flat and locked-down floor. Figures that place the Venga amongst the best in class.

The Venga driver is well pampered: a three-spoke wheel that adjusts for height and reach with remote control switches (audio/cruise/speed limiter/phone) and a good-to-grip leather rim, height-adjustable seat, height-adjustable seat belt, very good visibility all round (slim screen pillars and large front quarter-lights help when placing the car through corners or parking close to the kerb), and an easy-to-read, reflection-free, three-dial instrument pack.

“A week of hard-driving
saw an overall
average of 49.9mpg.
No reason to suppose
that the average
Venga driver will be as
hard on the loud pedal
as we were,
so no reason why they
shouldn’t get closer
to the official
To the driver's left in the centre of the fascia sits a logically laid-out, high-gloss black 'stack' housing the audio and climate controls; both use large circular master switches that are smart to look at and foolproof to use. High-sited air vents direct all the air you want exactly where you want it.

Both front seats are big, well-shaped and comfy. Both have inner captain's armrests and the bolstering is effective, not intrusive. Both are heated (two-stage) and both offer plenty of room around them in all directions.

Those who prefer to travel with their own personal music will be pleased to know that along with the radio/CD there's MP3 connectivity, Aux and USB ports, and an iPod cable for integrating Apple's digital players with the audio unit.

With the mass of personal baggage that 'connected' people carry everywhere with them today, you need a lot of in-cabin storage — the Venga has it, with plenty of cubby-holes to keep everything in its rightful place.

Powering the Venga can be either an 89bhp 1.4 or 123bhp 1.6 petrol engine; alternatively customers can go for a CRDi turboed oil-burner unit — a 1.4 with 89bhp or the latest addition, a 1.6-litre version that musters 114bhp alongside a gutsy 191lb ft of torque.

Whereas the petrol engines are no gas-guzzlers — the 1.4 manages an official combined consumption of 50.4mpg and the 1.6 43.5mpg — the diesel are even better: 62.8mpg combined for the 1.4 and 64.2mpg as a 1.6 (urban is 55.4 and extra-urban 70.6mpg).

Tested here is the 1.6 CRDi in range-topping '3' spec — a week in the hands of MotorBar's hard-driving test team saw an overall average consumption of 49.9mpg.

Call it 50mpg. No reason to suppose that the average Venga driver will be as hard on the loud pedal as we were, so no reason why they shouldn't get notably closer to the official 64mpg figure.

Despite making a gallon of fuel stretch a long way, and emitting a low 117g/km of CO2, the EcoDynamics-equipped (Kia's fuel-saving technology that includes Intelligent Stop & Go engine stop-start) 1.6 still provides plenty of get up and go: alongside its 114bhp it also generates a hefty 191lb ft of torque from 1,900 to 2,750rpm. And with more than 90% of that available from just 1,500rpm, the engine has strong low-down pulling power and feels satisfyingly brisk — just what you need with the family aboard.

It's also agreeably quiet which adds to the cabin refinement at speed. Top speed is 113mph, so you can cruise easily on Continental roads; and the 0-60mph acceleration is fine at 11.1 seconds. The six-speed manual 'box has a nice, easy change action and if you don't mind a little help from your friends to get the best economy, there's a very un-bossy gearchange prompt.

“The Vengas suspension
and steering has
been tuned for the UK’s
broken roads — and it
works fine on second-
rate British blacktop with
more than enough
fluency to keep you and
your passengers
undisturbed as you go
about your business.
Kia is also well-known for the high standard specification of their cars — even the range-starter versions. The Venga is no exception. '3' grade versions come with climate control, a multifunction steering wheel, electrically-adjustable heated on-demand powerfold door mirrors, Bluetooth hands-free & music streaming, electric windows (auto one-shot for the driver), reversing sensors, 'Bamboo' part-leather upholstery, heated front seats, cruise control with speed limiter, tinted glass, sliding rear seats, six-speaker audio with radio/CD (plus Aux, USB and iPod connectivity), cooled glovebox, panoramic electric sliding sunroof, privacy glass to the rear windows and tailgate, trip computer, rear spoiler, and alloy wheels.

Safety kit is equally comprehensive with six airbags, active front headrests, ABS with Brake Assist, Emergency Stop Signalling (flashes the high-level brake lights in an emergency stop to alert following drivers), Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Hill-start Assist, wiper de-icer, and a lot more. And guaranteeing total peace of mind during your Venga ownership is Kia's no-catch seven-year 100,000-mile warranty.

The Venga's suspension and steering has been tuned for the UK's broken roads; and it works fine on second-rate British blacktop, and with more than enough fluency to keep you and your passengers undisturbed as you go about your business.

The Venga's running gear is based on the Soul's, which explains why it feels lively and pleasant to drive: it grips strongly and stays well-planted when cornering. Venga driving, with or without the family, can be fun!

The steering gets motor-driven electronic power-assistance (which also contributes to the economy) and had decent 'feel' allied to a small turning circle that benefits parking manoeuvres as well as everyday driving at all speeds. And stopping power can be taken for granted, thanks to ventilated discs at the front with solid discs bringing up the rear.

Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management all play their part in the reassuring handling, plus the Hill-start Assist makes for hassle-free pulling away on inclines (it holds the car for two seconds to prevent it rolling back).

The Venga is a clever package that ticks a lot of boxes: it provides family-sized space, family-sized practicality, and comfort for all in a compact and stylish body. You also get generous equipment and real-world 50mpg economy. What are you waiting for? —

Kia Venga 3 1.6 CRDi | 16,975
Top speed: 113mph | 0-60mph: 11.1 seconds | Average Test MPG: 49.9mpg
Power: 114bhp | Torque: 191lb ft | CO2 117g/km