Kia Carnival – A sublime MPV

Kia Carnival

South Africa is a country that is spoilt for choice when it comes to cars, and with the rise of popularity in small SUV’s, one would think that the good old MPV would become obsolete. Kia clearly does not think so, and they have brought us the Kia Carnival, which I luckily managed to get my hands on.

First Impressions

The Carnival is a mammoth. I arrived home from work and saw it cramped up in the garage and I instantly thought to myself “how am I going to survive the week in this thing?”. Well, I managed. Once you’re in the car the size completely leaves your mind and it becomes such a lovely experience. The Carnival rivals the likes of the Volkswagen Caravelle, Mercedes Benz V-Class and the highly unorthodox-looking Hyundai Staria. It may be in a tight segment, but the Carnival is something to look out for.

The drive

The Kia Carnival has a 2.2l 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine that produces 148kW/440Nm, much like the Sorento of which it shares a platform. Coupled with the 8-speed transmission, the Carnival is phenomenal to drive. Comfortable, quiet and relaxing are some words I can use to describe the drive. Gear changes are prompt, it retains power very well on the road and feels very refined and luxurious. It handles insanely well however, I did feel a little disengaged from the steering, it did not respond the way I would’ve liked. Nonetheless, it gives of a sense of luxury once you are in it – it’s regal and drives gracefully, considering how large the car is. One will not feel as though they are hauling something heavy and that’s is commendable. There are various drive modes namely Smart, Eco, Sport and Normal but I was toggling between Eco and Smart most of the time. My fuel consumption was sitting at a decent 8l/100Km, much like in the Sorento.

The interior

On the inside, there is an endless list of features packed into this car. You’re met by a multifunction steering wheel, an analogue dash (which was surprisingly refreshing to see after a while), quality materials all over and gloss black surfaces. There is also a large 12.3 touchscreen infotainment system that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available, which is seamless and fairly easy to use.

The climate control system is below the infotainment system and its quite hard to use, as it is low and touch-operated, so you’ll need to set your aircon before departure because it is hard to use while driving.

There are 3 USB ports in the centre console, heated and cooled seats and a plethora of cameras to make your life much easier. The unit I had on test had a two tone trim which I didn’t like as the lighter colour made the car look, odd. I prefer a uniform tone in the interior of a car. The sound system is very good for something that does not have the BOSE one (that is available in the SXL model which came in March), so I was thoroughly impressed with it. You also have a wireless charging bay.

The 7 seater configuration is really lovely. The second row is has 2 singular seats, so theres an isle for people to get to the 3 row, which is a connected bench of 3 seats. Looking at it, it really does fit the criteria of a luxury hotel shuttle or the perfect road trip car, as the ample space in the back could be a marvel for passengers who are in there. The Carnival is ergonomically laid out really well. It is super comfortable, spacious and the distinct look of it gives it the most amazing road presence. Kia has managed to make something that can definitely take on the German favourites and the asking price of R999 995 is justified especially with all the features, tech and safety offerings this car has. There is also a double sunroof, what more would one need?

Ultimately, I am impressed with the Carnival. I would highly recommend it to families or shuttle services. It has everything a car needs to have and more plus, it looks absolutely amazing. I’ve grown to love the Carnival and all the bits and bobs it offers, so there is not much to fault about this car. It really does prove that in these times, you do not always have to drive German to be in something luxurious. Look around, there is a vast array of choices from the Korean brands.

The Kia Carnival is priced from R799 995 to R1 024 999 and it is available with a 5 year/unlimited kilometre warranty and a 6 year/90 000km maintenance plan.

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