This is the new Kia MPV, a replacement for one of the few remaining ‘old guard’ Kias, the Carens.
Kia sells two people carriers in Europe today: the large Sedona and the more compact Carens. Both lag miles behind the best new Kias, such as the Ceed, Picanto and Sportage. Surprise, surprise, both are nearing the end of their lives.
The current Carens is basically six years old – it was launched in autumn 2006, and facelifted in summer 2010.
So when do we see the new Kia Carens?
The prototype you see here is the new midi-MPV which will rival the likes of the Ford C-Max, Toyota Verso and Renault Scenic when it rolls into showrooms in March 2013.
CAR understands Kia will reveal the new MPV at the Paris motor show in September 2012. It’ll be shown alongside the new Proceed warm hatch. The Koreans are so busy launching cars they are now routinely showing more than one car at each motor show.
The Carens name has not yet been confirmed. Kia has previous on sticking with established names, but isn’t afraid of creating new names – like Ceed – for all-new product representing a step change from predecessors.
Insiders point out that the Carens name is very much in contention. ‘This car is made in Korea and is a global car. It has strong recognition in many markets.’
Sold as the Rondo in some markets, Kia shifted 38,000 units of its mid-sized MPV in 2010. Sales of the existing, ageing Carens are only in a few hundred in the UK, but at its peak it sold nearly 4000 a year. This new model should swell its appeal.
And what about the new Kia Sedona?
That’s one’s for the chop. When even arch pioneer Renault can’t make money selling the Espace (it’s recently been pulled from UK sale), you can see why car makers are struggling with full-sized MPVs.
The Koreans reckon this new smaller people carrier will do just fine. There might be a full-size MPV for the US and other global markets; check out the KV7 concept car from 2010 for an idea of how that could look.