Kia India is all set to introduce its fourth model – the Kia Carens for our market. The company calls it a “Recreational Vehicle”; offering a combination of an MPV and an SUV. However, it is nothing but an urban 3-row MPV or Multi Utility Vehicle.
Kia wants to position the new Carens somewhere between the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and the Toyota Innova Crysta. This C-segment MPV segment currently has no major products, except for the Mahindra Marazzo. Though, Toyota, Tata Motors and few other brands are planning to enter this segment.
Video – Carens First Drive Review
Before official launch, we got to test drive the turbo petrol manual and diesel automatic version of the Kia Carens. In this first drive review, we try to find out how good is the Carens MPV and should customers consider this 3-row MPV over the 7-seater UVs on sale in our market.
Kia Carens Design
The Carens is based on the SP2 platform that underpins the popular Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta and even the 7-seater Alcazar. The platform is modified to accommodate a 3-row MPV. Kia engineers have tweaked the platform to achieve a segment largest wheelbase of 2,780mm. In fact, the MPV has 30mm longer wheelbase compared to the Toyota Innova Crysta; however, the later is longer, wider and taller.
In terms of proportions, the new model is 4,540mm long, 1,800mm wide and 1,700mm tall. The MPV offers a ground clearance of 195mm. It rides on 16-inch alloy wheels shod with 205/65 section tyres. I strongly believed that Kia should offer 17-inch alloys with wider tyres for better road grip.
Despite adopting the Seltos platform, the Kia Carens managed to look significantly different and brings freshness in the MPV segment. Clearly, it is the finest looking 3-row MPV in the country. With Carens, Kia debuts the new ‘Opposite United’ design philosophy. It also misses the traditional tiger-nose grille, which is the brand’s signature styling. Moreover, the new model also brings in a split headlamp setup for the first time in Kia India line-up.
There is a piano finished black bar with a textured effect on the top, flanked by sharp LED DRLs (daytime running lights) on either sides. There is a thin chrome stripe that divides the LED DRLs and the main LED headlamps. The lower bumper has wide air-dam surrounded by a chrome stripe. The bumper also houses a nice looking three-pod LED fog lamps. The front design is little busy, but it looks good in real-world.
The side profile looks like a typical-MPV, featuring no or minimal lines and relatively flat roof. Chrome treatment can be seen around the door handles and around the window-line. The vehicle has large windows and blacked-out A, B and C pillars. Black plastic cladding is seen all-around the body.
The rear profile looks good, thanks to stylish split LED headlamps connected by a thin light stripe. The vehicle has a roof-mounted spoiler, a glossy black skid plate, and black plastic cladding on the lower bumper. There is a moustache-liked chrome bar that runs across the bumper to complete the looks.
Kia Carens Interior
Similar to the exterior, the Kia Carens is completely different from the other Kia cars including the Seltos and the Sonet. It gets an all-new dashboard design, which is not very big. The vehicle has a two-tone black and beige interior scheme, which feels upmarket. There is a silver V-shape insert in the centre of the dashboard and the same pattern is also added on the door pads. In fact, the AC vents are also merged well with this silver pattern.
Kia will follow the same strategy of offering abundant of features to entice its prospective customers. The Carens will be loaded with all the features that are offered in the Seltos, except for the few. It comes equipped with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is the same unit available in the Seltos and the Creta. Other features include a fully digital instrument console, ventilated front seats, an eight-speaker Bose sound system, a wireless charger, multi-functional steering wheel and others.
Kia has put in lot of effort in carving out more space for all three passengers, and they have done a commendable job. The second row seats are equipped with foldable armrest and are wide enough to accommodate 3 passengers. There is a retractable table mounted on the seatback of the front passenger seat. The Air purifier machine is placed on the seatback of the driver seat. The seven-seater model has bench-type seat, while the six-seater model gets captain seats. The flip-down armrest in the second row is slightly difficult to use, as it will require some efforts to access the armrest.
Interestingly, the AC vents for the rear occupants are mounted on the roof. Second row-passengers will have the option to control the blower. The second row seats are wide enough to accommodate three adults, also offering enough legroom and thigh support.
Access to the third-row seats is the easiest in this 3-row MPV. It gets a one-touch tumble down seats, which creates enough space to enter the third-row. What’s more interesting is the amount of space the third-row seat offers. Two adults can easily sit in the third-row and can travel for few hours without much issues. The seats are wide enough to avoid any shoulder brushing; also offers decent thigh support and legroom. The seats are good enough for average Indian height that’s 5,6″ to 5,10″. There are cup holders and roof-mounted AC vents with flow control for the third-row occupants. The window area is big enough to give an airy feel for all three rows.
With all three rows in position, the Kia Carens offers a decent boot space to keep your cabin bags. In order to achieve the amount of space, Kia engineers have made some interesting changes. The seats width have considerably reduced, when compared to the one offered in the Seltos. However, the seats are comfortable for all adults.
Kia Carens Performance
Kia’s new MPV is offered in 3 engine options – a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol, a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel and a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine. This is the same engine set-up, which we have already seen on the Seltos SUV. The naturally-aspirated unit produces 113bhp and 144Nm, while the turbo unit offers 138bhp and 250Nm of torque. The diesel engine is good for 113bhp and 250Nm of torque.
A six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard, while a 6-speed automatic and a 7-speed DCT are offered with diesel and turbo petrol respectively. We got the chance to test drive the diesel automatic and turbo petrol manual version.
The Kia Carens Diesel AT Review
The Carens has the biggest footprint in the C-segment MPV segment, riding on the segment-largest wheelbase and a length of over 4.5 meters. It is around 40mm longer than its Korean sibling – the Hyundai Alcazar. With this size, the 1.5L diesel engine appears smaller. However, Kia claims to have worked on the gear ratios and made required changes to tackle the added weight.
This engine-gearbox combination is not for those looking for a strong performance; however, it is tuned for smooth and comfortable ride. We found the 1.5L diesel and a 6-speed torque convertor combination a smooth affair. For everyday driving and occasional long drives, this engine is more than adequate. The company has also added a manual mode with paddle shifters on this gearbox, and this gives me more control over the vehicle.
The Kia Carens diesel automatic is well-suited for daily urban driving conditions, offering enough power, smooth ride and efficiency. The diesel engine feels refined and will pick up speed nicely from standstill. The smooth torque convertor is quick enough to make downshifts and up shifts whenever required. However, it feels little jerky on low speeds during heavy traffic. We are yet to test drive the new diesel AT combination with 6 or 7 adults to identify the real world performance.
Kia Carens Turbo-Petrol Manual Review
Customers looking for a more powerful variant will have the Kia Carens with a 1.4L tubro charged petrol engine. This engine produces 138bhp and 242Nm of torque. We drove the manual version the Carens turbo. This engine is rev happy and really very smooth with good NVH levels, and the peak torque is available over a wide rev range. This engine gets better post 1800rpm as you start enjoying the sportier side. The gearbox is super slick and it is easier to make quick shifts; however, one does not even have to shift too much due to availability of peak torque over wide rev range.
Ride & Handling
The Kia Carens is designed for urban usage, and one cannot expect it to do hard works like going to farms or damaged roads. Despite having a size of over 4.5 meters, the Carens is a very easy to drive and offers a very car like feeling. The steering feels light on low speeds; however, it weighs up nicely on increasing speeds. It is very easy to drive the Carens in busy streets, thanks to light steering, responsive gearbox and large glass area for all-round visibility.
Ride comfort is decent, thanks to well balanced suspension setup. At high speeds, the Carens give good stability; however, you will feel body roll on sharp turns. The body roll is evident, but it is comparatively lower compared to its direct rivals.
The Kia Carens comes with all-4 disc brakes, and the braking is progressive in nature. However, it still lacks the strong stopping power and one has to pre-plan to apply brakes at high speeds. The high ground clearance of 195mm helps in dealing with regular potholes in city roads.
– Looks Decent As an MPV
– Spacious Cabin
– 3rd seat will surprise many
– Loaded with features
– Kia’s special attention to safety
– Good engine performance
– Easy to drive & comfortable
– Braking system could have been better
– Feels bouncy on high speeds