Form meets family function
The all-new third generation Kia Carens is the latest seven-seat MPV from Kia, replacing the previous Carens and ageing Sedona. The Korean firm claims their new MPV has been designed with desirability in mind, as much as functionality. Upon first glance it’s hard to disagree.
Sporting a rakish sleek profile and large glass area, the front end is dominated by the familiar ‘tiger-nose’ grille with a chrome edge and either black or high-gloss black mesh, and finished with cornering lights, LED daytime running lamps and alloy wheels.
Three trim and equipment packages are available, badged ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’. All variants feature: seven seats, electric and heated door mirrors, air conditioning, a clean-air purification system, glovebox cooling, steering wheel-mounted controls, cruise control, a six-speaker audio system with iPod/MP3connectivity and Bluetooth.
Top spec grade ‘3’ versions adds luxuries such as panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, 10-way driver’s seat adjustment, heated front seats and heated steering wheel, wipers incorporating a de-icing system, second-row sun blinds and a reversing camera.
Safety features on all models include Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Management and Electronic Stability Control.
Along with a 133bhp 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol unit returning 44.1 mpg, is a 1.7 litre CRDi diesel, offered with either 114bhp or, as tested here, in more powerful 134bhp guise. Combined cycle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 60.1mpg and 124g/km and 56.4mpg and 132g/km respectively. Kia’s Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) engine stop-start system is standard on all manual-gearbox models.
As with all new Kia models, Carens comes with a seven year / 100,000 mile warranty (unlimited mileage in the first three years).
In the cabin:
Despite a shorter and lower body, Kia has also raised their game with interior space, thanks to a 50mm increase in wheelbase and lower seat positions. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom all round, along with ample storage, including under floor cubby holes and door pockets with integral bottle holders. Three individual sliding and reclining centre-row seats replace the previous split bench, with two separate seats in the rear folding flat to maximize cargo space.
The Panoramic roof brings a welcome brightness to the cabin… and unlike many similar systems found in rivals, this one actually does open. Being an MPV, Carens gives the driver an elevated and commanding driving position. All trim levels get a reach/rake adjustable steering wheel, with this grade ‘3’ model’s 10-way adjustable driver’s seat incorporating additional leg support.
Build quality deserves praise too, offering a satisfying mix of soft touch plastics, aluminium inserts and piano black glossy finishes: a massive improvement from Kia’s of old.
The interior feels well made, with everything from the trim and cabin materials to the switchgear possessing a quality feel. Niggles include the small infotainment screen and lack of satellite navigation.[portfolio_slideshow]
On the road:
The 1.7 Diesel engine is no ball of fire, but provides eager enough performance. It’s not the smoothest of units,although is sufficiently contained not to be intrusive. Even at low revs it proves a very tractable motor.
The action of the six-speed gearbox is like a knife through butter and smooth transmission uptake and light clutch make Carens easy and stress-free to drive. It’s not the sportiest or sharpest of drives, but for a family-orientated MPV Kia have got the balance just about right. The ride is cosseting and smooth without being soft, the steering nicely assisted without being over-light and the brakes are reassuringly strong and responsive.
Elsewhere refinement levels are impressive with road noise being well suppressed.
The Carens is perfectly geared up for family duties, being spacious, comfortable well equipped and hassle free to drive. Not only that, but it feels a premium product, both in terms of design and in fit and finish. Consequently it deserves to be on the shortlist for anyone in the market for a mid-size MPV.
Kia Carens ‘3’ 1.7 CRDi manual
OTR PRICE: £23,895
Max Power: 134 bhp @ 4,000rpm
Max Torque: 244 Lb ft @2,000-2500 rpm
Max speed: 119 mph
Acceleration: 0-60 in 10.0 seconds
Claimed MPG: (combined) 56.4
C02 emissions: (g/km) 132