The all-new third-generation Carens completes the design-led revolution that President and Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer began only a few years ago, by renewing every model in the range, and that has completely transformed Kia’s image and driven the company towards year after year of record sales.
All versions of the New Carens in the UK have a versatile and spacious seven-seat interior. There are two highly efficient and modern turbodiesels – two transmissions and three trim and equipment packages.
Kia is not claiming to have re-invented the MPV with the new Carens. But it provides all the room and versatility of its competitors while offering something they all lack: style.
MPVs exist to meet the varied needs of families rather than turn heads. The new Carens has been designed to do both. It exhibits yet another interpretation of the Kia design language masterminded by Schreyer…dynamic, elegant, prestigious, strong and distinctive. In customer clinics conducted in Europe, the new Carens came out ahead of its major European competitors for its all-round appearance.
Like the latest Sportage crossover – another radical departure from the model it replaced, and one that has been at the forefront of Kia’s rocketing sales – the new Carens is a car people will want to own rather than one bought out of necessity.
The new Carens is 20mm shorter, 15mm narrower and 45mm lower than the model it replaces, which means that in size it sits somewhere between the five-seat and seven-seat models from competitors. Yet thanks to a 50mm increase in wheelbase and lower seat positions it more than matches them for space, with abundant head, leg and shoulder room in all three rows of seats, while delivering the additional benefits of increased luggage space and a lower loading lip. The overall height of 1605mm is one of the lowest in class and 5mm lower to that of the Soul.
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. A longer, wider and taller luggage area and – for the first time – an under-floor compartment to store the cargo screen adds to the practicality of the new Carens. The front passenger’s seat also folds flat to allow exceptionally long loads to be carried.
This has all been achieved within a rakish, sleek and sporty profile typical of the Schreyer-inspired modern Kia look. This is not purely for style. Aerodynamics – and, as a result, fuel efficiency and refinement – also benefit. Three-dimensional side surfaces add to the dynamic appearance of the new Carens. Delta glass features behind the A-pillars and ahead of the C-pillars to ensure maximum side visibility, while on the majority of models a chrome belt line runs along the length of the side windows and rises as it meets the C-pillar, adding an elegant and sporty finishing touch.
Body-coloured or chrome exterior door handles and body-coloured door mirrors (with LED indicators and kerb lights on all but entry-level versions) are other premium touches, and most models have new-style alloy wheels and surface-mounted roof rails.
The front of the new Carens is dominated by the now familiar Schreyer ‘tiger-nose’ grille with a chrome edge and either black or high-gloss black mesh. The front is sharply contoured and voluminous, differentiating the Carens from the flat, dull appearance of most MPVs. Volume is also a feature of the stylish headlight units that include, as standard, cornering lights and LED daytime running lamps.
At the rear, a wider tailgate and window emphasise the solidity and practicality of the new Carens, with no dilution of the cohesive overall design. Black garnish beneath the rear bumper and a standard rear spoiler with an integral high-level brake light maintain the dynamic appearance that starts at the front of the car. Most versions feature a chrome tailgate finisher.
The new Carens maintains the leap in quality with every successive new model from Kia, thanks to the classy materials and sophisticated detailing. The wide fascia and crash pad have been split into an upper information area and a lower control area for ease of use, with all switches placed exactly where the driver would expect them to be.
The cabin trim is characterised by minimal panel gaps and soft-to-the-touch surfaces. Each trim grade comes complete with its own unique seat material – black cloth, black woven cloth with keep-clean texture or a choice of two leathers (depending on exterior colour choice). A leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshifter with chrome surround are standard, along with faux leather garnish on part or all of the door interiors. The two upper trim grades have black high-gloss panels with a grille pattern in the dash, upper centre console, doors and steering wheel spokes, and all models have metallic finish door handles and chrome accents within the cabin.
The increased space within the cabin and boot is reflected in the improved and more intelligent storage and usability features of the new Carens. The standard cooled glovebox is supplemented by second-row under-floor storage, a centre console box, front and rear door pockets large enough to hold drinks bottles and front seat-back pockets. The front seat backs also have fold-up tables with cupholders in most versions, and there are cupholders in the second and third rows. The middle-row centre seat folds to create a table.
The new-style front seats provide greater support in the shoulder area for taller occupants. Ten-way power adjustment for the driver, and integral heaters in both front seats, are standard with the highest trim grade. The individual second-row seats are lighter for easier adjustment and folding, and all three have built-in three-point seat belts. A tilting and sliding mechanism on the outer two improves access to the rear. Third-row seats are also easier to move as a result of the introduction of rigid but lightweight plastic parts, and redesigned head restraints ensure no obstruction to the driver’s rear visibility when the seats are unoccupied.
The new Carens is available with a choice two turbodiesels – which share the common characteristics of strong performance, outstanding fuel efficiency and excellent driveability and refinement.
The new Carens is also available with two versions of the European-designed 1.7-litre CRDi manual transmission turbodiesel engine, developing either 114bhp and 260Nm of torque or 134bhp and 330Nm. Those high torque figures are maintained over a wide rev range, giving the Carens supreme driveability even with a full complement of passengers on board. The standard version delivers maximum torque from 1,250 to 2,750rpm and 0-60mph acceleration in 12.6 seconds with a 112mph top speed. The more powerful engine option develops its 330Nm between 2,000 and 2,500rpm, which allows 0-60mph to be completed in 10.0 seconds and a top speed of 119mph.
Both 1.7 CRDi power outputs are extremely clean and fuel-efficient. Combined cycle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 60.1mpg and 124g/km and 56.4mpg and 132g/km respectively, and a diesel particulate filter is fitted as standard.
The 1.7 CRDi version with the six-speed automatic transmission delivers 134bhp and 320Nm of torque between 1,750 – 2,500rpm, that allows a 0-60mph to be completed in 11.6 seconds and a top speed of 116mph. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 46.3mpg and 159g/km.
Kia’s Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) engine stop-start system is standard on all manual-gearbox models. A new accelerator pedal design makes driving more comfortable with a design that puts less stress on the driver’s ankle articulation.
The MacPherson strut front and torsion bar rear suspension has been tuned to ensure precise handling and taut body control. This minimises undesirable lateral movement which can make passengers travelling in the middle and rear rows queasy. At the same time the suspension is supple enough to prevent the effects of bumpy and uneven roads from being felt in the cabin.
Kia’s Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) now has a quicker ratio for more direct responses and includes as standard the triple-mode Flex Steer function. It allows drivers to select a greater level of assistance (Comfort) to make parking easier, or reduced assistance (Sport) for improved high-speed stability. There is also a default Normal setting.
Great efforts have also been made to ensure the cabin is as quiet as it is comfortable. New measures include increased foam filling and sound-insulating pads in the roof pillars, a vibration-damping sheet on the dash panel and a larger air duct and a new resonator to counter engine booming. There is also a new three-point engine and transmission mounting system and a temperature-insensitive driveshaft damper that improves cold weather noise characteristics with the petrol engine.
Safety is paramount at Kia, especially in a model designed with family use in mind. With the arrival of the new model, several features previously unavailable in the Carens have been introduced, and as with every Kia, they are standard across the range.
Hill-start Assist Control prevents the car from rolling backwards during uphill starts by maintaining braking pressure until the driver touches the accelerator, while the high-level brake lamp at the rear now includes an Emergency Stop Signal which causes the light to flash during sudden braking to warn following drivers. The new Carens also features Brake Assist to ensure maximum stopping power in an emergency, regardless of the force applied to the pedal by the driver, plus Vehicle Stability Management. This links with the Electronic Stability Control to reduce the amount of steering assistance if the driver over-corrects in an emergency, and increases assistance if the driver under-corrects.
The new Carens has an immensely strong body shell created using the latest computer-aided design techniques. Collision energy is dispersed along deliberate channels to protect occupants in frontal, side or rear impacts. The body features extensive use of high-tensile hot-formed steel in the three frontal collision load paths and the side pillars and sills. Considerable effort has gone into the body framework and joints to improve rigidity. The body features rigid front strut mounts, reinforced vertical and cross members and a ring-shaped structure around the tailgate, that is lighter and more rigid thanks to the use of tailored blanks.
The new Carens is available with three trim and equipment packages, badged ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’. Standard features include seven seats, projection headlights with cornering lamps, LED daytime running lamps, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, driver’s seat height adjustment and tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshift, a centre console armrest, air conditioning, rear air ventilation, steering wheel-mounted controls, front and rear electric windows, cruise control with a speed limiter, remote central locking, a six-speaker RDS radio/CD player with iPod connectivity, MP3 compatibility and Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming. Trim grades ‘1’ and ‘2’ also have a rear conversation mirror, which is replaced by the controls for the panoramic sunroof on trim grade ‘3’.
The mid-spec ‘2’ models have in addition 16-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, chrome window trim, fog lights, roof rails, automatic headlight control, rain-sensing front wipers, electrically folding door mirrors with LED indicators and kerbside lamps, dual-zone air conditioning, a luggage net, a portable LED luggage light and reversing sensors.
The top-grade ‘3’ versions are distinguished by 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, 10-way driver’s seat adjustment, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, aero blade-type front wipers with a de-icing system, second-row sun blinds and LED reading lights, and a colour reversing camera integrated into the centre fascia screen.