Safe Space: Downsizing has become pretty fashionable as a result of the global downturn, with car makers dreaming up new products to part buyers from their hard earned cash
The mini MPV segment is one that is flourishing, thanks to new products from Citroën and Vauxhall and now Kia with its new Venga. Originally unveiled at last years Geneva motor show as the No. 3 concept, the production car has lost the funky windscreen that set the motor show star apart, but largely stays faithful to the original design.
Comparing a roomy car to Doctor Who’s tardis is an overused expression, but in the Venga’s case, it is perfectly true – there’s simply acres of room despite being only around four metres long. The Venga benefits by having a long wheelbase, with short overhangs, and being one of the widest cars in its class. That coupled with the high roof, means that all passengers have generous amounts of headroom, and shoulder room. And thanks to the sliding rear seat, passengers can choose extra legroom at the expense of boot space, if they so desire. There’s a split floor boot, which takes the already generous boot from 444 litres to 570 litres. With the seats folded flat into the boot floor, there’s a spacious 1,486 litres of luggage room. The cabin is light and airy, with liberal use of softened plastics, while all of the materials seem durable and built to stand up to all kinds of family punishment. The large glass house makes manoeuvring the Venga very easy – in particular the front quarter lights give a great view when pulling out from junctions.
The Venga suffered at the hands of motoring hacks at the earlier European launch due to high levels of engine noise and inferior ride and handling quality. Kia has taken the criticism on the chin, and further refined the UK bound cars, morphing the Venga into a decent little car. The steering is light around town, and handling is safe and secure with plenty of grip. The suspension can get unsettled over poor surfaces, but in the main is well resolved. The six-speed manual gearbox is light and precise and the engine provides plenty of mid-range punch. Kia says that it has made improvements to the ECU to reduce engine noise, and that is welcome, but it could still do with a touch more sound insulation to quieten things down further.
The trump card for any buyer is the seven year, 100,000 mile warranty that comes with every brand new Kia. That level of confidence in the product is admirable and it’s hard to measure the peace of mind that level of protection offers. For UK buyers, there’s a choice of one 1.4-litre CRDi diesel engine, mated to three trim levels – named 1, 2 and 3. With stop/start technology to lower emissions, six airbags and standard fit electronic stability programme and traction control on all models, the Venga is not only ecofriendly, it is safe too. Those expecting bargain basement costs from Kia are going to be in for a surprise, though – in diesel form, prices start at £12,795 and rise to £15,395 for the flagship 3 trim.
RIVALS: CITROËN C3 PICASSO, NISSAN NOTE, RENAULT MODUS, SKODA ROOMSTER, VAUXHALL MERIVA
- Engine: 1396cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max power: 89bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 163lb ft at 1,750 to 2,750rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,300kg
- Max speed: 104mph
- 0-62mph: 14.0secs
- Combined consumption: 62.8mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 117g/km (C)
- Boot space: 444 to 570/1,253litres
- Insurance group: 11