Ay, Venga!

I’m racking up the miles in the Venga. I don’t think there can be another one out there accumulating mileage quite as quickly as mine. I’ve now covered a little over 6,500 miles in two months and the picture is mixed. Positives first. It’s fairly comfortable. The driver’s gets me home from Manchester without me too much wriggling around too much. We’ve all done the single buttock shuffle to ward off numb bum syndrome at one time or another, after all. I still think it looks quite good too. Peter Schreyer always nails the stance of his cars and this one sits on its wheels like a little fat dancer poised at the bar. It could be an Audi, if Audi did small, chubby MPVs.

What’s not so good is the fuel economy. I’m getting about 47mpg when the Octavia of blessed memory regularly got over 53mpg. I hope that will improve as the engine gets a little looser. The Kia is a little more powerful than the Octavia but it has a larger cross-sectional area. It feels heavier too, not the steering which is twirly-light but the way it goes down the road and fails to really gather speed. I find myself having to push the accelerator pedal harder and for longer than I would like. That probably accounts for some of the deficit in the fuel economy.

I like the toys on board. I haven’t used the voice control. Who has the time to learn the special Talk To The Stupid Machine commands? When Kias understand natural language and Scottish accents, then perhaps I’ll have more time for the wee bampot in the dash. It’ll be even better when it talks back like Majel Barrett. Or Gillian Anderson. Or Malcolm Tucker. The sat-nav isn’t as easy to use as a TomTom or as useful as the Google Maps app on my iPhone which I used to use when my elderly TomTom died. It’s clear enough but a bit repetitive and pedantic in its instructions. The iPod controller doesn’t have a play/pause facility and whenever I connect my iPhone, it starts playing my music in alphabetical order starting with a really shitty track called About Us by Welcome Back Sailors. Every. Single. Fucking. Time. Drives me up the wall. It takes a few moments for me to find the podcast or audiobook I’ve been listening to and it never, ever remembers which one I was on last. To be fair, that might be down to my iPhone but it gets right on my tits.

We’re supposed to do a praise sandwich, so I’ll end on some more positives. It’s quite spacious for a small car. It’s the ideal runner’s vehicle. The room in the back seat and tinted glass mean that I can use it as a changing room for races more easily than I could the Octavia. I can sit back there and wriggle in and out of my running gear in privacy. The high seating position means that it doesn’t hurt so much to clamber in and out on 20 mile legs. No wonder Vengas are popular with those who aren’t as mobile as they once were. I’ve dropped the boot floor down for a bit more space and the boot takes all my boxes for work. It’s a bit of a struggle adding my travel and gym bags. My bike fits when I fold down the back sets and remove the bike’s front wheel. I need to empty the rest of the boxes to add my triathlon kit but that’s okay. I’m not likely to do a tri after a day at work.

So far, the fat, little Venga is struggling to worm its way into my affections. It’s useful, but not joyful. One day, I’ll forget I ever had it. I hope that’s after I’ve handed it back and not before. It’s not that much of an old man’s car, after all.

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