Kia Venga 1.6 '3'

Kia Venga, front, action
Kia Venga, rear, action
Kia Venga, dashboard
Kia Venga, boot
Kia Venga, interior
Kia Venga, rear

IT'S the car for which the phrase 'fitting a quart into a pint pot' could have been specifically coined.

And yet the Kia Venga could also become the forgotten gem of the family motoring scene.

Venga was actually the first car launched under the stewardship of Peter Schreyer, now President of Design for both Kia and sister company Hyundai.

And underlining that small can be beautiful, it brought a refreshing blend of good looks and space to the supermini scene.

So when Kia spirited a full line-up of its current models - from the Sorento SUV to Picanto city car - to a Cheshire-based driving exercise, the Venga proved a smart choice.

The line-up is based on five trim grades - ‘1', ‘1 Air', ‘2', ‘3' and ‘4' - and both 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines with manual and automatic transmission, giving a choice of 11 models.

Kia's Intelligent Stop & Go engine stop/start technology is standard where it can make a worthwhile improvement in fuel consumption and emissions, and appears on all versions.

Powering the tested variant in '3' trim was the 1.6 petrol unit with a six-speed automatic gearbox and price tag of £16,430.

What you get with the Venga Venga is not a mini-MPV but a five-seat supermini with genuine space; one that avoids the boxy profile of some rival passenger-friendly small cars.

Instead it offers a sleeker profile with an unusually long 2,615mm wheelbase, a high roofline and ample width - bringing interior space more comparable to that in larger cars.

Split rear seats that slide forward and back by up to 130mm allow the passenger space to be stretched when maximum luggage capacity isn't needed.

A two-tier boot means that owners who occasionally need more than the standard 440 litres of cargo space can expand the luggage area by lowering the floor, boosting that load volume to 570 litres.

And if more space is required, the rear seats have a function which makes them seem to disappear into the floor, creating a completely flat deck. Kia calls it Fold & Dive.

Factor in some trendy but simple design touches, part cloth part leather upholstery, a seven-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, reversing camera and LED daytime running lights and you have a small car with the feelgood factor to match its practicality.

It's enjoyable to drive too, the 123bhp engine feeling lively enough - though I tend to favour manual transmission over the six-speed automatic included on this example.

FAST FACTS

Kia Venga 1.6 '3'

Price: £16,430

Mechanical: 123bhp, 1,591cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 111mph

0-62mph: 11.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 62.8

Insurance Group: 13

C02 emissions: 150g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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