New Kia Carnival: A cleverly packaged and pleasurable car to drive.
Much has been made of the futuristic Hyundai Staria which has made people sit up and take notice as a real and more affordable alternative to the traditional German vans out there, and now Kia has come to the party with the new Carnival.
Review: 2022 Kia Carnival 2.2 CRDi SX Limited: Johannesburg: I’m hoping that South Africa, like some of its European counterparts, starts to take more of a liking to vans as opposed to SUVs.
There’s hope. While I had the SX Limited 8AT 7-seater on test, I received many inquisitive glances. Also, while waiting for my son to finish his school play rehearsals, a father came up to me and asked for a closer inspection. He’s in the market for a sleek family carrier and, thank goodness, has very little interest in an SUV.
His first impression of the hands-free electric sliding doors piqued his interest and once he had seen the seven-seat configuration with the two individual second-row chairs that match the front seats, I think a call to a Kia dealer was on the cards. I particularly like the dash which, unlike the trend sweeping across manufacturers to have everything digital, there’s an analogue speedometer and rev counter with a centre digital readout providing the necessary vehicle feedback.
The elegance of the interior has quality materials throughout with high-gloss black surfaces and strategically placed chrome garnish. Cleverly, Kia has placed darker leather two-tone trim to areas to be touched more often, like the seats and a lighter shade applied to areas touched less frequently. Handy for a vehicle that’s likely to see a lot of kids of all ages piling in and out.
The 12.3 inch touch screen infotainment system, which is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, is nicely moulded into the dash and easily reached from the uber-comfortable driving position. You’re able to adjust the air conditioning throughout the vehicle from there as well as actual controls, while strategically placed cameras give variety of views when parking or getting out of tight spaces. It’s a personal preference, but I’m not a huge fan of the rotary dial gear selector (think JLR) even if it does add to the aesthetics of the centre console.
The bus is powered by Kia’s new ‘Smartstream’ 2.2 CRDi turbo diesel engine that delivers 148kW and 440Nm of torque powering the front wheels via an eight-speed torque converter auto transmission.
It will happily tow a 1 500kg braked trailer, boat or caravan and you can toggle between Eco, Sport, Comfort or Smart which adjusts itself, depending on your driving style and environment. Our test coincided in a week where there would be a lot of travelling between home and school with extramural activities adding to the to and fro. There was also a trip to Redstar Raceway out Delmas way for the start of the Motorcycling Racing Series SA.
The Carnival was a pleasure to drive, with enough oomph when needed and it cruised impeccably throughout. The suspension made short shrift of road imperfections and handled sudden swerves for potholes and stray dogs without raising a sweat.
Despite its size and volume, the interior is remarkably quiet at speed, testament to the sound dampening that’s better than more expensive competition. Best of all, when I stopped to top it up before it went back, consumption stood at 6.9l/100km. Granted, most of it was highway driving but colleagues who have tested it carting people around and doing a lot of town driving have returned figures of 8.6l/100km.
The new Kia Carnival comes with an unlimited kilometre five-year warranty, including roadside assistance and a six-year/90 000km maintenance plan.
2022 Kia Carnival prices (April 2022)
2.2 CRDi EX 8AT 7-Seater – R799 995
2.2 CRDi EX+ 8AT 8-Seater – R879 995
2.2 CRDi SX Limited 8AT 7-Seater – R999 995
2.2 CRDi SXL 8AT 7-Seater – R1 024 995