KIA Carens 2013 Road Test

The fourth generation KIA Carens faces some tough competition from other compact 7-seater MPVs. But now, instead of having to undercut the others, KIA’s reputation and its styling are so good that the new Carens meets them head on.

List prices from £17,895 to £23,895 are a lot higher than the £14,375 to £18,810 that the old Carens used to sell for.

So instead of a competent but rather dowdy ‘also ran’ the new Carens aims to be the best looking, best packaged, most pleasing and most obvious choice.

They are all real seven seaters.

The three centre rear seats are all full size. Not the same size, but piggy in the middle only has to make do with about an inch less width than the outer seats.

Both outer seats slide and fold forward to let people enter and exit the rearmost seats, which can be accomplished with some degree of dignity.

And because the centre seats also slide, it is possible for three rows of adults to travel in the car.

M KIA Carens 2013 F34 Txt

Even the base model comes very well equipped.

‘1 Spec’ brings you projection headlights with cornering lamps, LED DRLs, electric and heated door mirrors, drivers seat height adjustment, height and reach adjustable leather trimmed steering wheel, leather trimmed gearknob, air conditioning, rear air ventilation, steering wheel mounted cruise control and speed limiter, three levels of steering power assistance: ‘comfort’, ‘normal’ and ‘sport’, radio and Bluetooth phone controls, rear electric windows, remote central locking, six speaker RDS radio/CD player with MP3 compatibility, voice controls, music streaming, and a back seat watching mirror.

Go up to Grade 2 and you also get 16” alloy wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres, rear privacy glass, fog lights, roof rails, automatic headlights and wipers, electric folding door mirrors with kerb lamps to aid parking, dual zone climate control, a luggage net, reversing sensors and even a removable cargo area light that doubles up as a torch.

The top spec Grade 3 adds 17” alloy wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres, panoramic electrically opening sunroof, leather covers seats, 10 way drivers seat adjustment, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, second row sunblinds, LED reading lamps, a reversing camera, and a power hike for diesel versions from 114PS to 134PS.

The basic engine is a 133PS 1.6 litre gasoline direct injected chain cam petrol that gets to 60 in 10.9 seconds, has a top speed of 115mph, managed 44.1mpg combines in the EC tests and emits 149g/km of CO2, which puts it into Band F VED at £140 a year. It feels a bit underpowered.

Next up, a 114PS 1.7 litre common rail diesel offering 60 in 12.6 seconds, a top speed of 112, EC economy of 60.1mpg and 124g/km CO2, so Band D VED and £105 a year tax. The extra torque of the diesel is very welcome.

3 spec diesels are upgraded to 134PS and get to 60 in 10 seconds, go on to 119mph, did 56.4mpg in the EC tests and 132g/km CO2, so Band E VED at £125 a year. 330Nm torque gives it plenty of punch to haul 7 people along.

And if you like a 6 speed torque converter automatic, that gets the 134PS diesel in a 2 Spec, offering 0-60 in 11.6, top speed of 116, EC economy of 46.3mpg and 159g/km CO2, so Band G £175 VED.

Out on the road, the Carens is competent and pleasant to drive but if it’s handling you treasure the Mazda 5 and Ford Grand C-Max run rings round it. (Not that this will remotely concern most customers.)

The big difference from the previous Carens is looks. This one shares the Peter Shreyer KIA family style and to my eye it makes every other compact MPV look like a box on wheels.

It’s the one ‘people carrier’ that offers a classy bit of style.

And, of course, it’s the one 7-seater with a 7 year warranty.

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