"IT looks like an old man's car," said my teenager when I picked him up in a Kia Venga. "Hasn't Uncle Horace got one?" he added.
Yes, Uncle Horace, very sprightly for a gent in his mid-80s, does have one. But, as is often the case, the teenager missed the point.
Uncle Horace is an exceedingly practical man, knows quality when he sees it and will not pay more than necessary for something he needs. Many will find it perfectly understandable why he settled on a Kia Venga - it's an extremely good, all-round package.
Practicality and ease-of-use were obviously top priorities for its designers. Despite its small size the Venga is spacious, with sliding rear seats, wide-opening back doors and a high-up driving position like a little SUV - which Kia is adamant it is not. It is, though, a genuine five-seater supermini.
At 4,068mm long and with an unusually long 2,615mm wheelbase, a high roofline and class-best width, the Venga provides interior space comparable to that in cars from the sector above and is among the class-best for interior measurements in many key areas, including front and rear leg and hip room and luggage space.
Sensibly designed rear seats make it very practical for such a small car. They can be slid back and forth and reclined, depending on whether boot space or legroom is a priority, plus they split fold for bulky loads.
The boot is wide and flat, with a reasonably low load deck and a false floor, covering some little storage areas for small odds and ends. Volume with the seats up is 440 litres and sliding the rear seats forward increases this a little. Folding the rear seats down - an easy ‘fold and dive' operation that doesn't require the headrests to be removed - makes a completely flat load area with 1,253 litres of capacity.
Following a facelift for 2015, the latest Venga is better looking and better equipped. The front and rear ends now have a sharper, sportier appearance, while the interiors have been refreshed for a slightly more upmarket feel.
Priced from £12,145, the line-up is based on five trim grades - 1, 1 Air, 2, 3 and 4 - and four engines.
Standard across the range are driver's seat height adjustment, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, electric front windows, remote central locking, tinted glass, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a front passenger armrest, body-coloured handles and door mirrors and electrically adjustable heated door mirrors.
Venga 2 models add alloy wheels, an iPod cable, Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone operation with music streaming, rear electric windows, folding door mirrors and reversing sensors.
For safety, all have six airbags, active front head restraints, two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points and tyre pressure monitoring.
All models also have an all-disc braking system with anti-lock and electronic brake-force distribution. Also standard is electronic stability control, traction control with brake assist and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) to ensure the car always remains under control, even in the most difficult conditions, and can stop in the shortest possible distance in an emergency.
In the UK, the Venga range comes with a choice of four engines - two petrol, two diesel. The diesels are obviously more economical - especially if you do a lots of miles - but the 1.4 diesel was surprisingly noisy. And though it's claimed official economy figures are over 62.8mpg I was achieving no more than 45mpg.
That said, it's a pretty comfortable, easy drive. The high driving position gives a good view of the road ahead, aided by the Venga's sizeable glass panels. There's a reasonable amount of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel so drivers of all shapes and sizes should be able to find the right combination.
On the road, the suspension, aided by the unusually long wheelbase, does a good job of smoothing out the bumps, there's plenty of grip and, surprisingly, there's very little body roll or lean in the corners from its relatively tall body. While it may be stretching it to say it's ‘entertaining' to drive - and sixth gear didn't like the rolling hills near me - it does have a certain sprightliness.