By Imraan Buccus
Cape Town: My daughters, 10 and 16, fill with excitement when they hear the Kia Carnival ad air on radio. They have a great sense of adventure, and the ad gets them chatting excitedly about road trip weekends. Having enjoyed the Carnival for a week; my 10-year-old describes it as ‘the best car ever’ and the car ‘I’d like to buy one day.’ Yes, a little surprising, I agree.
These kinds of leisure and utility minivans have not been the most popular in SA. Most would prefer SUVs and market share stats show that. So too does a drive through leafy South African suburbs. SUVs are somehow more fashionable, it would seem.
But one look at the Carnival and you’d agree it has a commanding presence, with a distinct SUV-like design. It takes luxury in this segment to another level, with the varying seating configurations being among the most attractive features on the inside of the vehicle.
According to Gary Scott, CEO of Kia South Africa, “The Kia Carnival is here to disrupt a staid segment and proves once again what is possible when conventions are shattered. With its SUV-like character, Carnival delivers a combination of premium design and features, intelligent packaging, and an abundance of innovation in safety and technology at a price that packs a value punch.”
The interior is impressive. The second and third row seats can be removed, giving one access to 4 110-litres of space. The hands-free electric sliding side doors are probably what did it for my 10-year-old. The Carnival is an improvement on the previous Grand Sedona model – its also 40mm longer, 10mm wider and 35mm higher, and a little heavier.
The quality materials used on the inside give off an air of sophistication and luxury, aided by high gloss finishes and a well finished two tone leather trim.
This is probably one of the finest cars in terms of comfort for your holiday trips; with ample space for 7 or 8 passengers; including 1,139 litres of luggage space. As alluded to above, the removal of second and third row seats will give you a jaw dropping 4,110 litres of space.
Another really useful feature of the Carnival is the Smart Power Liftgate with auto-close (EX+ and above) which makes loading and unloading a breeze.
Refined exterior and impressive power
Design synergy is evident among recent Kia SUVs and this design language is evident in the Carnival too. The modern grille is conspicuous and adds to the commanding presence of the vehicle. It appears dramatic with bold lines across the vehicle.
The bold design with equally bold front and rear lamps contributes to setting the Carnival apart from other similar iterations of cars in this class. Oh, and I should add - it has gorgeous 18- or 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
The ‘Smartstream’ 2.2 CRDi turbodiesel engine is more powerful than previously. It’s also impressive with 148kW at 3,800rpm and 440Nm of torque. In line with speaking to concerns about CO2 emissions, the Carnival sees emissions fall by 31g/km to 177g/km.
Carnival 2.2 CRDi EX 8AT 7-Seater - R799,995
Carnival 2.2 CRDi EX+ 8AT 8-Seater - R879,995
Carnival 2.2 CRDi SX Limited 8AT 7-Seater - R999,995
Carnival 2.2 CRDi SXL 8AT 7-Seater - R1,024,995
The Kia Carnival comes with an unlimited Kilometre, 5-year warranty (inclusive of roadside assistance), as well as a 6-year / 90,000 km maintenance plan.
While the Ex and Ex + no doubt have impressive features, the flagship SXL does stand out. And one might very well say that the fact that it prioritises safety with its around-view monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot collision avoidance assist, lane following assist, lane-keeping assist, forward-collision avoidance assist and 7 airbags makes it a cut above the rest.