Three engines will be offered: a 1.6-litre petrol and 114bhp and 134bhp versions of a 1.7 diesel. We tried the more powerful diesel, which feels like it would have no trouble hauling around a heavily-loaded Carens, although it’s not as flexible as some rival engines; you have to keep the revs above about 1600rpm.
Kia has put comfort before agility, which is no bad thing in an MPV. The ride generally feels a lot more forgiving than a Peugeot 5008’s, although things can become a bit unsettled over scruffy road surfaces, and the Carens rolls far more than the Peugeot in bends. The fact that the Carens is quite slow to respond to steering inputs also counts against it on windier routes, while the steering itself has an artificial feel.
refined, and there was little else to disturb the peace on the French roads where we tested the car, aside from a bit of flutter from around the door mirrors. However, every Carens is fitted with Hankook tyres, and our experience of these in other models suggests that road noise may well be an issue on UK motorway surfaces.
Exact prices are still to be announced, but we expect the Carens to be cheaper than equivalent versions of rivals such as the Peugeot 5008, Toyota Verso and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. Running costs are reasonable rather than class leading, with the lower-powered diesel averaging 60.1mpg and 124g/km of CO2, and the higher-powered model 56.4mpg and 132g/km
The interior of the Carens is smartly styled and built from solid materials. True, Kia’s performance in the last JD Power customer satisfaction survey was nothing special, but it performed well in our last reliability survey, and you get the reassurance of a seven-year, 100-000 mile warranty.
Every Carens will come with stability control and six airbags, although it’s disappointing that the twin curtain ’bags don’t extend to protect those in the third row. Security is boosted by deadlocks, an automatic door locking function and an engine immobiliser.
The dashboard layout is similar to the Ceed hatchback’s, which means most of the controls are clearly labelled and logically arranged. There’s also a good range of seat and steering wheel adjustment to help you find a comfortable driving position, and visibility is better than it is in many MPVs, thanks to large windows all round.
Like most of its rivals, the new Carens has three full-size middle-row seats that can be slid and reclined independently of one another. Third-row space is also competitive, which means kids and smaller adults will fit. Unfortunately, getting to the third row isn't as easy as it is in a Peugeot 5008, because the middle-row seats don't slide so far forward, and then don't return to their original position afterwards. All five rear seats can be folded down to leave a long, flat load area.
Kia hasn’t confirmed what equipment will be standard yet, but we’d expect every Carens to get air-conditioning, front electric windows, an iPod-compatible stereo and Bluetooth connectivity. On the downside, Kia doesn’t usually offer many cost options, so you’ll probably have to do without some desirable items, such as parking sensors, unless you go for one of the pricier trims.
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