Mo­bile broad­band

Kia’s su­per­sized Car­ni­val takes eight, their lug­gage and all their de­vices

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - RICHARD BLACK­BURN CARSGUIDE EDI­TOR richard.black­burn@news.com.au

THERE’S an in­ter­est­ing in­sight into the evo­lu­tion of the mod­ern fam­ily in the new Kia Car­ni­val.

For on-board en­ter­tain­ment, the pre­vi­ous Car­ni­val made do with a CD player. The new model has three USB ports and three 12-volt power out­lets to make sure that all on board can charge their mo­bile de­vices on the run and avoid — heaven for­bid — con­ver­sa­tion with any other oc­cu­pant.

It also caters for the mod­ern ob­ses­sion with hy­dra­tion with no fewer than 10 cup-hold­ers and four bot­tle hold­ers.

The big Korean peo­ple­mover also al­lows for av­er­age Aus­tralians be­ing big­ger than they used to be — there’s more room in all three rows, while the Car­ni­val’s mid­dle row seats stand up rather than tum­ble for­ward, giv­ing more space for those climb­ing into the third row.

As peo­ple-movers go, the Car­ni­val is the su­per­sized ver­sion. Kia says that roughly 60 per cent of pri­vate Car­ni­val buy­ers have three or more chil­dren, but for any­one who be­lieves only eight is enough, this thing will com­fort­ably swallow a fam­ily of eight and their lug­gage.

Hav­ing shrunk the Car­ni­val over­all, the de­sign­ers also squeezed more room in be­tween the front and rear wheels, which means the cabin is big­ger than its pre­de­ces­sor in ev­ery vi­tal mea­sure.

All three rows have more legroom and the rear­most seats have more head­room thanks to a less ta­pered roof. Lanky teens will no longer be able to avoid the back row by claim­ing they won’t fit.

Apart from the lug­gage area, the Car­ni­val also has a stack of stor­age space — two glove­boxes and a huge cen­tre stor­age bin that can com­fort­ably fit a cou­ple of two‒litre bot­tles stand­ing up. There’s also a slid­ing tray on top for smaller items you don’t want to lose in the abyss.

Util­i­tar­ian to its core, the new model still lifts the game in­side, with higher qual­ity ma­te­ri­als on the dash and a classy two-tone grey leather trim on the more ex­pen­sive mod­els. The top glove­box felt a lit­tle stiff open­ing and closing but all in all the cabin is a suit­ably pre­mium en­vi­ron­ment.

The base model makes do with a small in­fo­tain­ment screen and small re­vers­ing cam­era, cloth seats and no dig­i­tal speedo.

As a range, equip­ment lev­els are pretty good. Which is just as well, be­cause the new model is a cou­ple of grand dearer than the one it re­places. Start­ing price for the S is $41,490 and the Plat­inum diesel model tops out at an eye-wa­ter­ing $59,990.

Most pri­vate buy­ers will fall some­where in be­tween — the Si is from $45,490 and the SLi from $49,990. The S is tar­geted largely at fleets, which ac­count for three in four sales.

Up from the base model you get a big­ger screen and sat­nav and fur­ther crea­ture com­forts. The more ex­pen­sive mod­els also get re­mote elec­tric slid­ing doors and a tail­gate that opens af­ter three sec­onds if you stand next to it with your key.

The Plat­inum could lay claim to be­ing Australia’s safest peo­ple-mover, with a vast ar­ray of col­li­sion avoid­ance tech­nol­ogy in­clud­ing lane de­par­ture and blind spot warn­ing, auto dim­ming head­lights, dis­tance-keep­ing cruise con­trol and rear cross‒traf­fic sen­sors. The safety gear isn’t avail­able as an op­tion on cheaper mod­els.

There’s an­other safety caveat. The Car­ni­val gets only a four-star rat­ing from our crash test author­ity be­cause it doesn’t have seat belt re­minders in the sec­ond row.

The car was sup­posed to ar­rive be­fore new reg­u­la­tions came into ef­fect on Jan­uary 1, and had it been on time it would have rated five stars. The fac­tory is rac­ing to fit them by Septem­ber, when the Car­ni­val will get five stars. The rat­ing hic­cup is more anom­aly than gen­uine safety is­sue though, and with six airbags in­clud­ing cur­tains ex­tend­ing to the third row, the Car­ni­val is ex­pected to be safer than many five-star cars.

ON THE ROAD

The first thing you no­tice about the Car­ni­val is the steer­ing feel, or lack of it. De­spite be­ing tuned lo­cally for Aus­tralian con­di­tions, the Car­ni­val steer­ing feels too light and vague by peo­ple­mover stan­dards, around town as well as on the free­way. It feels bet­ter once it loads up through bends, though, and the rest of the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is solid.

The sus­pen­sion ef­fec­tively cush­ions oc­cu­pants from bumps and im­per­fec­tions in the road sur­face with­out wal­low­ing on big­ger bumps or lean­ing ex­ces­sively through cor­ners. At fam­ily-friendly cruis­ing speeds, the car feels re­laxed and pre­dictable in its re­sponses.

There are two en­gine op­tions, the 2.2-litre diesel be­ing the pick — it loses lit­tle to the 3.3-litre V6 in per­for­mance and is sig­nif­i­cantly less thirsty.

The V6 of­fi­cially uses 11.6L/100km of un­leaded but we saw about 14.0L through a drive on hilly coun­try back roads. The diesel re­turned about 9.0L

in a mix of sub­ur­ban and free­way run­ning. Kia has dropped the pre­mium for a diesel from $4000 to $2500.

Both en­gines are rel­a­tively smooth, although some rat­tle can be heard from the diesel at lower speeds. Else­where the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence feels pretty re­fined, although our test drive was held in pour­ing rain so it was hard to get an idea of cabin noise.

VER­DICT

The Car­ni­val pretty much nails its brief as a full-size peo­ple­mover for larger fam­i­lies and makes more sense than a lot of

The Plat­inum could be Australia’s safest peo­ple-mover, with a vast ar­ray of col­li­sion avoid­ance tech­nol­ogy ...

lane de­par­ture and blind spot warn­ing, dis­tance­keep­ing cruise con­trol and rear cross‒traf­fic sen­sors

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