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Kia Venga SR7

Barely four months into the year and already Kia's dealers have been blessed with a brace of new products to sell. In addition to a new Sorento offroader, both the Rio and Picanto small cars have been updated, as well as the Venga that we test here.
The changes are modest, but they contrive to give the spacious hatchback a more upmarket appearance, thanks to a redesign for both the front and rear ends. There's a new piano black mesh grille and larger surround, while at the rear there's a chrome strip between the rear lights. The cabin has been updated with a smattering of new materials, designed to lift the ambience.
Our test car came in special value SR7 trim, which may sit at the bottom of the revised diesel line-up, but its specification is far from bargain basement, and in some areas even surpasses the pricier level 2 trim. And of course the icing on the cake is the class leading warranty, which covers the Venga for the first seven years of its life. In all directions, the baby Kia belies its compact footprint, with generous headroom both front and rear, and an enormous amount of knee and leg space for rear seat passengers. And thanks to the handy sliding rear seat, buyers can balance between extra carrying capacity in the boot, or greater spaciousness for passengers.
In its standard positioning, there's a sizeable 440 litres, and this can be opened up further by folding the rear chairs down flat. Access to the boot is wide and flat, if a bit on the high side. The design of the dashboard is attractive and has been lifted by new surfaces for the centre console. And although the plastics are of the hard variety, everything feels neatly screwed together and built to last, and all of the controls are logically arranged, with clear labelling for ease of use.
The driving position is quite upright, but it affords the driver great all-round vision, especially thanks to the deep windows and big door mirrors. Oddment space is well catered for, with a large bin ahead of the gear lever, a sizeable glovebox and door pockets that can hold a bottle of water. First impressions of the engine are marred when it takes a while for the engine to crank into life from cold, but once it does, there's gutsier performance than the modest figures suggests, with decent pace away from junctions. Even at motorway speeds, the Venga can cut it in the outside lane, and does so serenely thanks to low levels of both road and wind noise.
And the sound from the engine is pretty subdued at those speeds, too, but that isn't the case around town, where it is a touch growly. And it's a similar story for the suspension, where it is calm and pliant at 70mph, but a bit too firm at lower speeds, transmitting too many shocks from potholes and ruts into the cabin. As you would expect, there's little for the more enthusiastic driver here, instead delivering a calm, safe and predictable driving experience.
With a taller stance, there's a degree of body roll when cornering, but lots of grip, and though the steering isn't particularly communicative, it's light enough to make manoeuvring around town easy and stress-free.

Price £14,895
Made in Zilina, Slovakia
Configuration 5-door hatchback, 5-seats, front-wheel-drive
Drivetrain 1396cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbocharged diesel
Transmission 6-speed manual
Power output 89bhp @ 4,000rpm
Maximum torque 162lb ft @ 1,750-2,750rpm
Top speed/0-62mph 104mph/14.0 secs
CO2 emissions (tax band) 119g/km (C) Euro 5
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 56.5/67.3/62.8mpg
Fuel tank size/range 50 litres/691 miles
Insurance group/BIK rate 10/19%
Size (length/width without mirrors) 4,075/1,765mm
Boot space (minimum/maximum) 440/1,253 litres
Kerb/max towing weight 1,345/1,300kg

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