TEST DRIVE: Kia Carens

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IMPVs are designed for practicality rather than looks. The new Kia Carens however is an attractive seven-seater that should turn heads on Wearside roads. Les Oliver has been driving it.

THE new Carens is one of the most stylish seven-seater MPVs on the market.

In recent years Kia has been considered by Sunderland drivers as a budget rather than a best-buy.

But now it is recognised as progressive and improved brand with continuing record sales on Wearside and throughout the country.

The work of Kia’s chief designer Peter Schreyer, the all-new third generation Carens is a versatile and spacious contender which will give the opposition a hard time..

There are three efficient engines, two transmissions and three trim and equipment packages.

There’s a 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol that, with 133bhp and 44.1mpg combined fuel economy.

Best seller though is likely to be the 114bhp 1.7 turbodiesel in the mid “2” trim. A more powerful version of this engine is also available with134bhp and more torque but it is only available in the top equipment package and is much more expensive at £23,895.

The old Carens was never likely to set the heather alight and now with the end of the Sedona, Kia have an elegant car that will contribute to its rising fortunes.

The familiar Schreyer ‘tiger-nose’ grille, swept back lights and sleek nose to roof lines make the new Carens a looker to rival Ford’s Grand C-Max and the Renault Scenic.

In customer clinics itcame out ahead of its major European competitors for its all-round appearance.

The rakish profile is not purely for style - it aids aerodynamics – and, as a result, fuel efficiency and refinement.

The Carens is also practical MPV. There are now three individual sliding and reclining centre-row seats in place of a split bench and two separate seats in the rear, all of which fold flat to ensure the ultimate in passenger-to-cargo versatility.

The luggage area is longer, wider and taller than the predecessor’s and – for the first time – there’s an under-floor compartment to store the cargo screen which adds to the practicality.

The front passenger’s seat also fold flat to allow exceptionally long loads to be carried.

The new Carens is 20mm shorter, 15mm narrower and 45mm lower than the model it replaces, Yet thanks to a 50mm increase in wheelbase and lower seat positions

it has plenty of head, leg and shoulder room in all three rows.

With increased luggage space comes a lower loading lip. The overall height of 1605mm is one of the lowest in class

The cabin is furnished with a wide soft-touch dash, the instruments and control clear and simple to use.

Standard features include cornering lamps, LED daytime running lights, electric door mirrors, driver’s seat height adjustment and tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment.

Front and rear power windows, cruise control with a speed limiter are standard on onall models.

Top-grade “3” versions get a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, 10-way driver’s seat adjustment, heated front seats and a heated steering whee aand second-row sun-blinds.

Surprisingly, satellite navigation however is not available. All the driving on our press launch models was directed by plug-in Tom Toms stuck to the windscreens.

On the move, the Carenns offers a quiet, comfortable, compliant ride and is very quiet and refined. Steering is positive and body roll isn’t too bad for a car of this type
The thick A-pillars hampered visibility at some junctions

Like all Kia’s it comes with seven-year, 100,000-mile transferable warranty.

TECH SPEC

Kia Karens “2” 1.7 CRDi 6-spd mnual ISG

Engine: 1.7-litre diesel

Power: 114bhp

0-60: 12.6 secs

Top speed: 112mph

Economy: 60.1mpg

CO2: 124g/km

Price: £20,595