Not so long ago, Kia was content to produce reasonably capable and affordable cars. More recently though, the Korean manufacturer has steered a course away from the bargain basement towards the more quality led sector of the market. The latest Kia models no longer rely on a cheap sticker price and bumper specification list to shift their motors. Instead they are going for better design, build quality and even innovation. Part of this process is a shift away from the Korean build to offer a more European flavour in their cars. The Kia Venga is one such car. Designed in Germany and built in Slovakia, the Venga is positioned to go head to head with mainstream European rivals like the Citroen C3 Picasso
, Renault Modus and Vauxhall Meriva. It is a tough market to crack. These European supermini MPV products are sophisticated and well thought out and Kia has realised that a cheap price and huge load of standard equipment are not going to cut it anymore. Making the car in Europe does raise costs somewhat over the Korean manufactured cars, so it is more important than ever that the Kia Venga can stand on its own merits against the opposition.
Bang for your buck
The first thing you will notice is that new European design. Actually it is very successful. The car looks poised and purposeful, making use of its added height to command a bit of respect. It avoids the box on wheels look common on other vehicles in this class and instead looks quite rounded and even sleek. Kia has pushed all four wheels right out into their respective corners and this gives the car a well planted stance. Pushing the wheels out as far as they go is practical too. It gives this car a longer wheelbase than many of its rivals and creates more interior space in the cabin. In this sector a car is only as good as that interior and the Venga doesn't disappoint. The rear seats recline to offer a more relaxing position for sleepy children. They also move forward and back to adjust the balance between luggage space and legroom and fold flat to give that important huge load carrying capability. Choosing a trim level is as easy as 1,2,3 and the equipment level is good. Even the base 1 model comes with electric windows and CD. Standard safety equipment includes ABS braking, six airbags and electronic stability control is standard on most models and optional on others. Engines come in 1.4 petrol and diesel options and there is also a 1.6 petrol unit wedded to an automatic gearbox.
What you'll pay
An early 2010 Kia Venga 1.4 petrol with base level trim and 20,000 miles on the clock should set you back around £6,500. This rises to £15,950 for a 2012 62 plate in top of the range '3' trim with a mere 3,000 miles recorded.
What to check
There have been some minor reports of electrical problems with the power steering and throttle lag on the diesels but nothing major. Even the very earliest cars shipped with Kia's 7 year warranty in 2010 so you have a few years yet before you should have any major concerns.
Not that this should bother you any time soon, but Kia parts are reasonable with a set of front brake pads costing around £25. A set of front brake discs comes in at £85.
How it drives
You are never going to break any speed records in a used Kia Venga. The 1.4 petrol with 89bhp will get you to 60mph in a shade over 13 seconds but will then take another full 13.5 seconds to go from 60mph to 80mph. That is not the kind of performance to make you feel comfortable in the outside lane of the motorway. At lower speeds of less than 50mph, the Venga feels much better and really quite brisk. These sorts of speeds are where the Venga will spend most of its time so this is better news. The engine is refreshingly quiet and refined at low revs and speeds. Ride is good too, with the suspension being specifically tuned for British roads and the high driving position gives excellent visibility. There is little body roll for a tall car and the Venga feels planted and assured on the road. All in all, the Kia Venga delivers more than adequate performance.