It’s been a design-led revolution that has in recent times completely transformed Kia’s image, driving the Korean manufacturer to year after year of record profits.
The launch of the third generation seven-seater Carens MPV completes an intensive re-styling programme right across the company’s now formidable range, which today boasts a competitive model for most market segments.
Still commendably spacious inside, new Carens has a smaller footprint than the outgoing version, making it easier to drive and park on busy city streets while it is nimble out on the open road, with a quiet and comfortable ride.
Carens is available with a choice of three engines, two transmissions and three equipment and trim levels. My test car was the £20,595 Carens ‘2’, which comes with a smooth-running 1.7-litre four-cylinder diesel lump that is mated to a slick six-speed manual gearbox. The petrol option is a 1.6-litre unit, with direct injection.
0-60 mph takes a rather sluggish 12.6 seconds but top speed potential is a respectable 112-mph while a frugal fuel consumption figure of 60-mpg in the urban cycle is achievable if you take it easy on the gas pedal.
Standard kit includes a bevy of safety devices, such as electronic stability control, stability management, ABS brakes, hill-start assist, twin front and side airbags for those in the front two seats and flex-steer, offering normal, comfort and sport modes.
A large stowage area, with nets and hooks, is supplemented by door and under-floor stowage and a cooled glove box.
“Stylishly practical” is a good way of summing up this highly likeable family car. With all the grace, comfort and style you could expect of a family car at the top end of the market, the latest Carin should help introduce an even wider audience to Kia’s now complete new model range.
Kia’s generous seven-year warranty comes as a welcome bonus and, usefully, when sale or exchange time comes around, it is transferable to the new owner.