Kia Carens MPV first drive

Kia CarensIt’s has to be one of the deals of the decade, turning £300 into £3,000.


The current Glass’s Guide price for a 13 year old Kia Carens is about £300, but trade that car in against a new top-spec level 3 Carens Mk3 launching this month and Kia will slash £3,000 from the price of nearly £23,900.

Even if you have one of the original models now valued at about £250 in the trade bible and want to buy another new one you could get £2,500 off the list price of the new Carens 1 or 2 grade models
The inflation-busting loyalty bonus is one of the continuing sales incentives by the Korean maker which has just notched up its most successful ever March sales of 12,633 units.

Determined to maintain the momentum with the May launch of Carens, the golden-hello handshake for owners of non-Kias who buy one of the new mid-sized MPVs is a £1,000 price cut, but only if your are quick off the mark this month.

Kia CarensBacking up the showroom deals are in-house interest on loans of just 4.9%.
“We have had a great March and want to keep this momentum going,” said Kia dealer development director Simon Hetherington.

Since Carens first launched in the UK in 2000, about 26,000 have been sold in first and second generation versions before they were discontinued in 2010. The majority of these are still thought be running, but mostly the G2 from 2006.

Hetherington said, “We know how hard it can be at the present time for anyone thinking of changing their car, but these deals are tremendous value and we want to reward owners who have put their faith in our products over the years as we build up the Kia family”.

He added, “The arrival of the newest Carens will see it being promoted to business and fleet buyers more than before and we anticipates the eventual sales of about 5,000 units in a full year and will see up to 70% going to business buyers.”

There are about 172 Kia UK dealers and the ideal is 185 so Mr Hetherington said they are talking to existing franchise holders about extending into areas where there are gaps. “Historically we have found the best performing dealers are the family-run businesses because they usually have a very strong and loyal customer base. But we also have some very large national chains in the line-up as well and they do particularly well with business buyers.”

Kia CarensThe all-new third-generation Carens completes the design-led revolution that President and Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer began a few years ago.

All versions of the New Carens in the UK have a seven-seat interior. There are three highly efficient and modern engines – one petrol and two turbodiesels – two transmissions and three trim and equipment packages.

Prices for the six-model Kia Carens range from £17,895 to £23,895.

The new Carens is 20mm shorter, 15mm narrower and 45mm lower than the model it replaces, which means that in size it sits somewhere between the five-seat and seven-seat models from competitors. With a 50mm increase in wheelbase and lower seat positions it more than matches them for space while delivering the additional benefits of increased luggage space and a lower loading lip.

The new Carens is available with a choice of three direct-injection engines – one petrol and two turbodiesels – which share the common characteristics of strong performance, outstanding fuel efficiency and excellent driveability and refinement.

The petrol engine is the 1.6-litre Gamma GDi direct-injection unit that, with 133bhp and 165Nm of torque, ensures relaxed motorway performance and easy-to-drive, flexible responses in stop-start driving. Combined fuel economy is 44.1mpg, with comfortably more than 53mpg possible when cruising, while CO2 emissions are an impressively low 149g/km. But this is not at the expense of brisk performance.

Kia CarensThe petrol Carens can accelerate from 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds and has a top speed of 115mph.

The new Carens is also available with two versions of the European-designed 1.7-litre CRDi manual transmission turbodiesel engine, developing either 114bhp and 260Nm of torque or 134bhp and 330Nm.

The standard version delivers maximum torque from 1,250 to 2,750rpm and 0-60mph acceleration in 12.6 seconds with a 112mph top speed. The more powerful engine option develops its 330Nm between 2,000 and 2,500rpm, which allows 0-60mph to be completed in 10.0 seconds and a top speed of 119mph.

Both 1.7 CRDi power outputs are extremely clean and fuel-efficient. Combined cycle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 60.1mpg and 124g/km and 56.4mpg and 132g/km respectively, and a diesel particulate filter is fitted as standard.

The 1.7 CRDi version with the six-speed automatic transmission delivers 134bhp and 320Nm of torque between 1,750 – 2,500rpm, that allows a 0-60mph to be completed in 11.6 seconds and a top speed of 116mph. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 46.3mpg and 159g/km.

First impressions
Over a decade after the original version was launched in Britain, the Mk3 Kia Carens MPV is a modern statement about where the brand is heading.

Crisp styling both outside and in, thoughtful design and sophisticated technology combine in an eye-catching package which is smaller on the outside than its Mk2 predecessor but which offers greater room for occupants.

The 5+2 seating with a decent sized boot as well will appeal to families and the very wide opening doors should ensure it also caters for those with less mobility. Oddments room is good.

Kia has carefully chosen its powertrains to cover the most popular sectors of the market and included its all-new six-speed automatic, but this was not available at the launch drive and is expected to account for just 10% of sales.

With more buyers down-sizing from premium brands but demanding the same level of equipment in more competitive products, I would not be surprised if this is an under-estimation of the demand for an automatic and which is available only on the diesel.

The 133bhp 1.6 petrol engine tested in grade 1 specification is likely to be ordered by owners who do not do particularly high mileages and on test we averaged 40.3mpg. It revved easily but was noisy higher up the range when pushed through the manual six gears and developing 122lbft at 4,850rpm it needed frequent gearchanges to maintain brisk progress over twisting and hilly roads.

Kia CarensThankfully a light clutch and slick box made gearchanges very easy, and the brakes were well up to their job.

The Carens comes with Flex Steer which provides three modes of varying weight and feedback so you can refine how you want it to feel in the hands. I found little difference between normal and comfort but more of a step to the sport mode.

The lower powered 114bhp 1.7 diesel developed 192lbft from 1,250rpm so it was much more suited to the test route and lugging a family about but its approximately £1,700 more in grade 2 as driven so you have to hit the high mileage markers to make it a better return, even if it gives better than the 53.1mpg we achieved. Not only was it smoother and more flexible in nature but it was also surprisingly quieter when accelerating than the petrol stablemate. There is little wonder that this is thought to become the best-seller and better suited to its perceived buyers demands.

The least popular model, the higher power 244lbft at 2,000rpm 1.7 diesel, actually produces 134bhp and its mid-range boost makes it much the better proposition for a driver who wants more underfoot.

Even driven with more gusto than the other two, we managed 51.7mpg over the same circular test route but in Grade 3 trim it works out at close to £23,900, so you have to balance power with pence.

Kia Carens is first and foremost a family car stretching the usual five-seats to seven when the rearmost pair are lifted out of the boot-floor. The backs of the middle row gradually drop flat to progressively increase bootspace and increase versatility if you want to use as a four-seat with drop-down middle drinks tray.

As such its handling is distinctly ‘safe’ with noticeable body roll and an understeering tendency on tighter turns to run wide. It has a firm or nobbly ride over some pieces of road and it produces a lot of road noise as well to accompany the petrol engine when pushing on. I fancy it actually rode better in the diesel models as well, possibly due to the added weight of the engine and even additional trim.

Controls are well laid out for convenience and clarity, the instruments big and easy to read with straightforward yet versatile sound systems but you don’t have sat nav even on the highest specified model.

I liked the look of the Kia Carens from all angles but found it needed the parking sensors, which are not fitted to the entry model, as you cannot see the ends in tight spaces.

It is the right car for Kia to put into the MPV sector and with its high equipment levels, particularly on 2 and 3 grades, it is a very attractive proposition with low rate finance and leasing, backed up by an exceptional warranty which indicates immense confidence in the model. Many of these latest Carens will be running around after another decade has passed.

Milestones: Kia Carens Mk3 1.7 CRDi 7-Seat Compact MPV, Price: £20,595
1.7-litre, 4-cylinder, 114bhp common rail diesel, 6-speed manual. Performance: 112mph, 0-60mph: 12.6 seconds, 60.1mpg Combined Cycle (53.1mpg on test),
CO2: 124gkm, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £105 per annum second year onwards, BIK company car tax 18%.Insurance group: 12. Warranty: 7yrs/ 100,000 miles, 12/unlimited anti-rust, 5yrs/ 100,000 miles paint. For: Roomy for five, versatile interior, flexible and economical engine, easy to drive, modern design, very good warranty.
Against: Nobbly ride but soft handling, noisy engine, difficult to park without sensors, limited legroom in rearmost pair of occasional seats. Robin Roberts By Miles Better News Agency  


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