Joining the CAR Magazine long-termer fleet is Kia’s comfortable people mover. Ian McLaren gets to grips with it 1 month into its 6-month stint with us. Here are his initial thoughts on the Carnival 2,2 CRDI EX+ 8-seater.
Time spent: 1 of 6 months
Distance covered: 1 600 km
Average fuel consumption: 8,9 L/100 km
Driver: Ian McLaren
We like: Sophistication, versatile interior
We don’t like: Erratic parking sensors
What better way to get acquainted with a new vehicle purchase than a weekend away road trip? In my case, as the temporary custodian of a new Kia Carnival MPV, this included a welcome getaway – ironically without children on this occasion, despite this vehicle’s people mover mandate – to the luxurious tented lodge within the vast Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, outside of Montagu. Hosted by Kia South Africa, our road trip included a 200 km drive to the main entrance of the reserve, followed by a short spell of gravel driving to reach this facility’s reception boma. From here, guests are shuttled to their respective accommodations, with your private vehicle parked securely for the duration of your stay.
The replacement for the Grand Sedona, the modern Carnival continues to offer a compelling alternative to the likes of more traditionally shaped, van-based people movers including the Ford Tourneo, reimagined Opel Zafira and, of course, the VW Transporter, including Kombi and Caravelle. In fact, it is arguably only the Kia’s cousin, the Hyundai Staria, that has done more to shake up this segment (design-wise) compared with the SUV-based Carnival.
Sharing its platform with the Sorento, the appeal of the Carnival compared with many of its rivals is that it offers a similarly comfortable driving position as its SUV sibling. While its lower profile compared with the likes of the Tourneo and Kombi means that a level of airiness in the rear is sacrificed, one advantage of Kia’s sleeker design is that it is less susceptible to crosswinds while on the open road than other van-based rivals.
“My” mid-spec Carnival EX+ derivative features a full complement of rear passenger seating, including a second-row bench and twin third-row seats that are easily stored within the luggage compartment when not required. In other models within the current local Carnival line-up, the second row comprises two individual seats, with unrestricted access to the third row through the centre – thus making them a seven-seater.
To date, my young family has been enjoying the standard leather upholstery, rear window blinds, the option of no less than 7 USB ports and the electrically operated sliding doors and tailgate. I personally like that the rear windows (the second row items can be lowered completely) feature a relatively dark tint, meaning that the cabin remains relatively isolated from the outside world. Another welcome inclusion is the vehicle’s dedicated climate control settings for rear seat occupants – a feature that I’m nevertheless grateful to be able to override from my driver’s seat.
At 5 155 mm in overall length and with a 3 090 mm wheelbase, while the Carnival’s large footprint makes it impressively stable at cruising speeds, a level of care and consideration needs to be adopted before heading to your local grocery store. That said, I haven’t yet figured out the intricacies of my vehicle’s parking sensors. While the reverse camera and rear sensors work seamlessly, the front items don’t always engage when you need them to.
Obviously, the sliding rear doors on these types of vehicles make it that much easier for little ones to exit without fear of damaging cars parked alongside.
Kia’s proven 2,2-litre turbodiesel engine and 8-speed automatic transmission is a known quantity, with 440 N.m of torque proving more than adequate for what I need the Carnival to do on a day-to-day basis. I am currently averaging 8,9 L/100 km.
My next scheduled road trip in the Kia is set to include my young children, together with as much luggage and paraphernalia as the Carnival’s impressive luggage space (even with all seats in place) can accommodate.