- We like...Warranty; space
- We don't...Bumpy ride in town
Small on the outside, big on the inside. Could this new small car make like Dr Who's Tardis? We think it's in with a shotCake?... Eat it? With the Venga, you can. By which I mean that the Venga is a little car that packs a lot within its modestly sized whole. Not that it wows with its cleverness: it’s actually pretty ordinary to look at.
Neat, definitely. Modern? For sure. And it certainly is never gawky nor below-par in the way Kias of a generation ago could be. But its clean lines are anonymous: it could be the product of any one of half-dozen Far Eastern-based car makers.
Spend time with it, though, and you’ll twig that it manages the trick of giving a lot for its size. It’s tall in the cabin and immediately makes it seem airy and roomy. Add in a design that plants each wheel firmly at a corner and you’ve something that is space-friendly. Add in a boot that packs a hefty tray with which to separate your belongings and you’re on the way to a car that’s exceptionally handy and easy to live with. Finish the journey with a back seat that’ll fold flat to make way for bigger loads. And if that’s not enough, it slides to and fro at the tug of a lever to juggle space between passengers and luggage.
For some, the car’s standard, cost-no-extra seven-year maker’s warranty – better than any rival currently gives – is a deal-maker in itself. But happily, it’s fair enough to drive, too. The steering, gears and pedals are light but still precise enough to make for an easy drive. It’s not set up to be gunned along and so it’ll lean into corners. But it’ll hang on gamely, too, and will haul up quickly if you hit the brakes hard. At low speeds it bobbles and thumps across broken road surfaces but settles as speed builds. It’s quiet-is at motorway speeds, with what noise there is coming mostly from wind rustle across its tall windscreen. The 1.4-litre petrol motor in ours span gamely and felt lively with just the driver aboard. Loaded up with people and things, though, it struggled when pointed uphill. There's also a 1.4 diesel, which we haven't tried. But picking it adds at least £1000 to the all-up price and, for that reason, we reckon the one tested here is the better bet.
Ours was a mid-spec ‘2’ model (‘1’ is entry, ‘3’ is top-line). While its black and silver cabin colours are sober they suit the car, while the plastics used inside the car look reasonable. Only if you study the hard, cheap stuff low down on the door inners can you see signs of cheapness. It’s pretty well equipped: alloy wheels, air conditioning, six airbags and remote locking come as standard, while a socket to hook up your iPod is a welcome touch.
Should you buy one? That seven-year warranty should be enough to put it on your list. Add in its ample cabin space, generous equipment and it’s a real contender. The only thing that would make us pause is the price: for us, it’s a little too close to what you’d pay for its big-name competitors. But if you can bargain a discount, it’ll make a sound buy.
Note that the Euro NCAP results given below conform to new, tougher tests introduced in 2010
- Engines1.4 petrol
- 0-60 mph12.4secs
- Insurance groups
Motors.co.uk value verdict: