Home / Reviews / First Drive / Kia Carnival First Drive – The Carnival at a Castle

 

We drove the new Kia Carnival at the Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad to get an idea of what the new MPV has in store for us.

Kia, the Korean car manufacturer, has been making a storm in India with its brilliant Seltos, planned on launching a new product after every six months (give or take). Keeping their word, Kia have just introduced their new MPV, the Carnival, at the stunning Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad. Would the Carnival live up to the high expectation created by the Seltos? Well, read on…

We arrived at the Falaknuma Palace early on a Thursday evening where we were introduced to the Carnival. The car we drove was the seven-seater Limousine variant with the works. However, buyers may opt for the seven-, eight- or nine-seater variant, depending upon their requirements. Let’s delve into the design of this big MPV, first working our way from the front. Starting with the headlamps we see lovely LED units that sit above the fog-lamps, sporting more light than what one would need. In between, you see Kia’s very own tiger-nose front grille that we all know today blending a nice flow that follows the car from bonnet to boot, with the sides showcasing most features on the outside. The rear door-handles sit towards the front of the door as they are sliding units that can be opened with either a tug or a host of buttons inside and outside. Coupled with the large middle seat windows make the car look very premium. We also see blacked-out D-pillars that heighten the appeal of the car. The wide boot door has Carnival written at one end with Kia’s badging in the middle.

When considering the roof, buyers can also look forward to two separate sunroofs, for the front seats and the middle seats, enhancing the premium appeal. Behind said sunroofs you see a small shark-fin antenna at the rear. You get a choice of two 18-inch allow rims, shiny or matte finished, to suit your personal preference, draped with 235/60 tyres. These wheels give the car enough ground clearance to hop over speed-breakers or bad road conditions. The Carnival, in essence, is generally a simplistic car on the outside, hiding the many features stacked inside, something that we do like.

The inside is another story altogether with a host of features, some of them a first for the price tag we think it would fall in. The smartphone app is helpful, but, more so, Kia have launched a wristwatch which would please James Bond. The watch is called UVO which, among other features, can even start the car and adjust the temperature of the interior without anyone being in the car, something that we have seen in the Seltos top variant too.

Buyers may look forward to a decent dashboard featuring all the regulars such as start/stop, an eight-inch infotainment console that is easy to use, controls for opening all the rear doors, and more. The plastics are at times amiss when thinking about luxury, but never felt shabby to the touch. Kia have also added an air-purifier which allows adjustment of the airflow in the car and a much-needed feature in India. In addition, the Koreans say the soundproofing has been immensely improved, which I may happily concur with. The console between the driver and front passenger is lush with the arm-rest featuring a big bucket that can fit a tablet efficiently.

For the middle seats, there is a USB port and a 220V plug-point for whatever use you may find the need for. The middle-row seats may either be standard or VIP seats, with the VIP option having two screens strapped to the back of the front seats that allow USB, Bluetooth, Network and more connections for one’s own leisure. The seats in the middle also have air-conditioner controls to adjust temperature either from the front or from the middle. The VIP seats in the variant we drove also sported recliner-style leg-rests that added to the comfort and appeal. The nine-seater is a bit different, though, but, unfortunately, Kia did not have a nine-seater on display. This option has six captain seats and a row of three at the rear. All seats come with their own cup-holders and a-c vents, which is always great. The third-row seats are also sinking seats, hence once folded, this row will sink neatly into the rear, opening up more boot space.

All seats, bar the driver’s, are manoeuvred by manual controls and move front-to-back and side-to-side in the seven-seater option. Boot space is massive, with 540 litres to 2,759 litres available in the variant that we drove. That is huge and only seen in a couple of very expensive MPVs in the country.

Driving the car, we found that its big frame did not trouble us at all. We were a little worried about how it would feel on crowded roads, but we have to say this car felt like most MPVs. Yes, it is a big car but a manoeuvrable one. The car has a monocoque chassis making it handle quite well. Yes, it does have some body-roll and, yes, the suspension is very soft, but that is what the car is supposed to be. This is not a sporty barn-stormer, but supposedly a plush couch one can escape to. The 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine is a front-wheel-drive unit that churns out 200 hp and 440 Nm and also adheres to BS VI emission norms. Those figures made the Carnival pull fairly well on the highway and yet stay smooth throughout. This is also due to the eight-speed automatic transmission that I found no fault with. Additionally, the soft suspension ate up bad roads with ease, refusing to bounce around, making it a very comfortable ride.

Safety-wise, you find a host of features which include six airbags and curtain airbags at the sides, electronic stability control, hill start assist, parking sensors for the front and rear, and more. The car will be made available in three colour options: Glacier White Pearl, Steel Silver, and Aurora Black Pearl. Pricing wise, Kia have stuck a Rs 24.95-lakh weight on your wallet for the start of the Carnival range and goes up to Rs 33.95-lakh for the Limousine variant we drove (both prices are ex-showroom). This is what we expected and that leaves the Kia comfortably sitting in a segment of its own. Well, if you are looking for an MPV but do prefer luxury over anything else, we think this would have to be your best bet for now. Well done, Kia.

 

About the author: Zal Cursetji

 

 

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