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Kia models, news & reviews
By Chris Chilton
31 January 2007 03:25
I know, I was just coming to that. Functionality then. The new Carens is a five seat people carrier that can be fitted with a third row of seats for a premium. Most similarly-sized rivals can be fitted with seven seats - think Zafira, Touran, Scenic - but Ford's C-Max is five-seat only. To do this Kia had to make the new Carens 55mm longer, 50mm wider and 40mm taller than its five-seat-only predecessor. It's easy to get into the rearmost seats by sliding the middle row forward but while Kia reckons that the rear row is suitable for adults, even those of average height aren't going to want to spend more than half and hour there. And boot space with all seven seat in use is reduced to just 74 litres, compared to the 200 litres in the Renault Grand Scenic, although with the seats folded flat the Carens does offer a massive Renault-beating 2106 litres. Up front it's pretty bland. the materials are better but there's too little variation in colour and texture to match the best that rivals can muster and the non-reach-adjustable steering column forces a back ache-inducing bus driver-style seating position.
Not the horror the exterior styling (if that's the right word) implies. The diesel engine is rowdy and motorway cruising is charcterised by some wind and tyre noise but it's tolerably accelerative, hitting 62mph in 11sec. Well that's what the techy stuff says about the five-speed manual version. But we drove the auto version which has just four forward ratios to choose from - nearly half as many as a contemporary Mercedes slushmatic - which isn't ideal given the relatively narrow torque bands of turbodiesel engines. So performance takes a hit, 62mph climbing to 12.6sec although the 116mph max is unchanged. We suspect though that Kia Carens buyers and car enthusiasts are mutually exclusive and that there's probably enough perfromance for most drivers expect when the car's fully loaded. The all round independuntly suspended chassis is better, the ride firm but comfortable and body control good. The steering isn't loaded with feel but at least feels like real steering, unlike a Grand Scenic's awful driver-road interface, which means that you can at least point the Carens quickly and confidently even if it's not quite as much fun as a Ford C-Max.
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Kia Carens 2.0 CRDi (2007) CAR review
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