Kia Carens; First drive review [Video]

Kia’s short time in the Indian market has been eventful. Starting with their first product, Kia has moved good numbers and even challenged the segment-leaders like the Hyundai Creta. After a quiet 2021, Kia has its first product in the year. It is a 6/7-seater vehicle that Kia calls Recreational Vehicle. But is it just another MPV? We drove the Carens around to find out.

Kia Carens exterior design

The Carens offers a high bonnet position with a flat roofline but a raked windshield. It does look different and unique. At the front, Kia offers a solid gloss black grille with 3D patterns embossed in it. It adds an electric vehicle look to the car. The LED DRLs are positioned on either end and the all-LED headlamps cluster is positioned just below that. The ice-cube foglamps are positioned near the air dam that gets the signature Tiger Nose shape.

There is not much going on at the side. The LED DRL extends to become a deep crease that ends at the A-Pillar. A similar crease starts from the D-Pillar to join the tail lamp. The 16-inch dual-tone alloy wheels are definitely the highlight of the side. The Carens also offer roof rails. Since there is no panoramic sunroof, the roof rails are functional.

The rear gets an oversimplistic design with sharp-looking LED tail lamps. The tail lamps also get a reflective bar connecting them. Kia has used a lot of chrome on the car. It can be a bit too much to some.

Kia Carens get a spacious cabin

Kia has designed the cabin very smartly by doing great positioning of the features. For example, the AC vents are on the roof saving space on the pillars. The air purifier is mounted behind the driver seat. Kia has sacrificed the panoramic roof and a second tray table for a good reason. These exclusions have added space to the cabin.

Also, the flat roofline allows Kia to offer ample headroom for third-row passengers. But we can’t say about the knee room. With my height of 5″10′, my knees would not feel comfortable during long drives. For shorter people, the third row is excellent and there are individual cup holders, AC vents and USB C-Type chargers as well.

Entering the third row is easy. There is a button-operated hydraulic sturt that pushes the seat and folds it on a single touch. But the single touch-operated tumble down seat is fixed and does not move around. This seat gets a foldable tray mounted behind the co-driver’s seat.

The other captain seat can be adjusted by sliding it. But there is no tray table for the passenger. It gets an air purifier mounted behind the driver seat. The second-row seats individual armrests and can be folded flat to increase the cargo space.

The front seats are comfortable and have a good amount of cushioning. The driver seat can be adjusted for height as well. With an adjustable steering wheel, finding a good, comfortable driving position is not very difficult. Kia offers bucket seats in the front and they do a great job in keeping you in place.

Kia has used different colour themes with different variants. The top-end variants that we drove get the deep blue and beige combination. The blue shade looks like faded black colour from a certain angles. But overall, the fit and the finish is great.

The 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system gets a flush fitting. There is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and down below, the Carens get touch-sensitive climate control buttons as well. Kia has added wireless phone charger and cooled cup holders as well.

With premium features like selectable ambient lighting system and premium infotainment system with features like ambient sounds from forest, beaches, open air cafe and other such places, the cabin simply feels luxurious.

Kia Carens engine and drive

Like the Seltos, the Carens also gets three engine options. The is a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine that generates a maximum power of 115 PS and peak torque of 144 Nm. The 1.5-litre diesel is also available and it produces a maximum power of 115 PS and 250 Nm of peak torque. The most powerful powetrain available comes with a 1.4-litre tubrocharged petrol engine. It generates a maximum power of 140 PS and peak torque of 242 Nm. Kia offers automatic and manual transmission options with all the engine options.

With the turbo-petrol engine gets a seven-speed DCT transmission. This is the variant we drove came with the most powerful powetrain and we loved driving it until the first corner arrived. The Carens is a six-seater family car with tall roof and soft suspension set-up to provide ample comfort to the occupant. These attributes do not combine well with a high-performance engine. Unless you want the petrol engine and find the other option underpowered, the 1.4 turbo-petrol is more than what you need to enjoy the Carens.

We drove the diesel-manual as well and it behaved much better on the roads. Because of the heavier body weight, the diesel variant sticks better to the road surface and handling feels much more precise.

The Carens does not feels like a large car. Even while going through heavy traffic, the Carens maneouvers quite well and the steering wheel is quite light at the lower speeds.

Is Carens better than Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and Hyundai Alcazar?

The Kia Carens is much bigger than the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and is slight bigger than the Alcazar as well. It gets the longest wheelbase of all the three cars. The Alcazar offers a lot more than the Carens including panoramic sunroof with all the variants. But Hyundai charges a premium price for the Alcazar.

Looking at the features and options, Kia is definitely taregtting an attractive price tag for the Carens. How much it will be will also define the new MPV’s success in the Indian market.

Compared to the Ertiga and XL6, the Carens is much bigger is size, offers many more features and is much better in every way including performance. But Maruti is a master of the market when it comes to pricing. The Carens will sit one segment higher and may attract a few top-end buyers of the segment-leader.

So should you buy one?

The Carens is a great choice for anyone who would want a safe family cars. Kia offers six airbags right form the base variant. There are numerous engine choices and transmission options as well. It feels more spacious than the Alcazar and if you do not care for the features, you should wait till Kia announce the price of the Carens to decide which car you want to see in your garage. What is you guess on the price? Do let us know in the comments below.

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