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Kia Venga 1.4 SR7 Eco

Click to view picture gallery“While Kia’s sales continue to go
  from strength to strength, so do their
  products. Take their hatchback-
  styled, five-door mini-MPV, the Venga.
  Recently revitalised, its high-roofed
  cabin and smart rear seating is
  proving a big hit with UK buyers...”

HARDLY SURPRISING GIVEN the Venga's 12K range-starter price. Six trim levels step the cost up to 18K 1, 1 Air, SR7, 2, 3 and 4. Four engines are available and fuel can be from either the green or the black pumps: petrol units are 89bhp 1.4-litre or 123bhp 1.6-litre; turbodiesels are also of 1.4 and 1.6-litre capacities with, respectively, 89 or 114bhp.

Making sure there is something for everyone, an auto is offered with the 1.6 petrol engine and five-or or six-speed manual 'boxes are fitted dependent on engine sizes. Of course, the one thing every model in the Venga line-up does have in common is Kia's seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, which has the added advantage of being transferable to future owners if the car is sold during the warranty period.

“Looks-wise Venga has
more than enough
personality — most
notable is its racy wheel-
at-each-corner styling,
emphasised by very
short body overhangs
and strongly defined
wheel arches filled by
multi-spoke design
Looks-wise Venga has more than enough personality to stand out most notable is its racy wheel-at-each-corner styling, emphasised by very short body overhangs and strongly defined (especially at the front) wheel arches filled by 16-inch multi-spoke design alloys.

The rising waistline bodystyle is capped by a four-panel glasshouse and it's all sportingly tied-in with by a steeply-raked front screen. Kia's well-known 'tiger nose' also comes in for a tweak it's now finished in a high-gloss 3D black mesh with a chrome surround.

In a wide-tracked body that's a smidgen over an easy-to-park four-metres long, the Venga's airy cabin offers surprisingly roomy accommodation for four/five adults plus lofty headroom.

The smoothly-adjusting seats sit you higher than average and are upholstered in an all-season-friendly black cloth with red stitching that's repeated on the leather rim of the multifunction steering wheel. They provide decent support along with fine visibility whether you're the one behind the wheel or just along for the ride.

Both front seats benefit from drop-down inner Captain's armrests; and there's plenty of space between the front seats so that they can be used without any elbow clashing. There's plenty of leg and foot room too; the front passenger can really stretch out while the driver gets a 'clutch foot' rest that easily supports larger feet.

Fit and finish is neat and the cabin is well put together with a durable feel that bodes well for family users; a well-considered mix of trim finishes keeps it all interesting. The switchgear and controls are clustered conveniently together in a 'control stack' high up in the central fascia, including the foolproof rotary knobs for the efficient air-conditioning making them easily accessible to both the driver and front passenger.

The rev-counter, speedometer and fuel gauge are all set in their own individual nacelles and have crisp, clear faces. Remote audio and phone buttons on the multifunction wheel make life easier for the driver, while plenty of storage solutions (large glovebox, bottle-holding door bins, Siamesed cupholders, open trays, etc), make it easy to keep organised.

“When it comes to prioritising people or cargo carrying needs the Venga’s rear seats give you real flexibility — they can slide fore and aft by 130mm for maximising either passenger or boot space as well as fold individually...
SR7 versions come well equipped with AirCon, Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone operation with music streaming, iPod cable, six-speaker hi-fi with CD, USB and Aux-in ports, leather rim steering wheel with multi-function buttons, motor-driven power-assisted steering, and all electric windows (those at the front have a one-shot up/down function).

There's also heated power-adjustable door mirrors, tinted glass plus privacy glass (rear windows plus tailgate), reversing sensors, on-board driver's computer, drive-off auto door locking, gearshift change indicator, and auto lights.

Other standard kit includes a full set of six airbags (dual front, side and full-length curtain), active front headrests, height-adjustable front seatbelts, hill start assist, electronic stability and traction control plus vehicle stability management systems, tyre pressure monitoring, rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels wearing low rolling resistance tyres.

Access to the back seats is easy thanks to the generous size of the door frame no ducking required. When it comes to prioritising people or cargo carrying needs the Venga's rear seats give you real flexibility as they can slide fore and aft by 130mm for maximising either passenger or boot space as well as fold individually.

Rear passengers also get large magazine pockets, a padded central armrest and usable outer armrests and enjoy plenty of space to wiggle their feet, decent knee and leg room, along with well-padded, comfy seats (especially around the lower back) made even better by backrests that recline through nine different angles.

In five-seat passenger mode the Venga's boot is good for 440 litres of luggage; should you need some more then lowering the two-tier boot floor gains you an extra 163mm in depth and increases the boot capacity to 570 litres.

When folded a nice touch: the rear headrests can be left in place when converting to cargo mode the 60:40-split back seats 'dive' down into the floor to maximise loadbay height and provide a completely flat and seamless cargo deck level with the load sill. The resulting loadbay will take an impressive 1,253 litres as well as swallow items as long as 1,552mm.

“We averaged 42.2mpg which considering half of our journeys consisted of driving in peak-time town traffic is not at all bad and bodes well for economical mid-40s motoring for the average driver...
So, compact on the outside but capacious on the inside. More plus points are earned by the large multi-section deep tray which sits above a proper space-saver spare wheel and, should you need to tow, the 1.4-litre Venga will pull a braked 1,300kg.

Our SR7 was powered by Kia's all-aluminium, 16-valve, twin-cam, four-pot petrol engine that puts out 89bhp backed up by 101lb ft of torque at 4,000rpm, runs to 104mph and passes 62mph from standstill in 12.5 seconds.

Priced at 13,595, its combined cycle economy figure is 50.4mpg with emissions of 130g/km so no road tax payable for the first year but after that it's 110.

Kia's EcoDynamics Intelligent Stop and Go is fitted and it works fine and also has the advantage that you can turn it off understandably, many drivers prefer to temporarily disengage these systems in continuously slow-moving stop-start traffic.

In real-life driving we averaged 42.2mpg which considering that half of our journeys consisted of driving in congested peak-time town traffic is not at all bad and bodes well for economical mid-40s motoring for the average driver.

The manual gearbox's five forward ratios are all you'll need, and the shift action is so easy you never have to think about it exactly as it should be. All of which makes for stress-free progress whether you're stop-starting in the city or streaming along the motorway.

The Venga is an exceedingly easy car to feel at home in on the move. Importantly, it's quiet and refined even when zipping along at the legal limit. It also feels well damped, takes corners level, brakes reassuringly (brakes are disc front and rear) and rides well. Handling is always safe and predictable, and overall it's perfect for its multifunctional practical family motoring role.

Kia Venga 1.4 SR7 Eco | 13,595
Maximum speed: 104mph | 0-62mph: 12.5 seconds | Test Average: 42.2mpg
Power: 89bhp | Torque: 101lb ft | CO2 130g/km