Kit from base up, in a fes­tivus for the rest of us

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - DAVID BONNICI

Build­ing a bet­ter breeder bus

WHILE it doesn’t top any cool lists, anec­do­tal ev­i­dence sug­gests your mo­tor­ing scribe isn’t alone in har­bour­ing a quiet ad­mi­ra­tion for the Kia Car­ni­val. Its eight-seat in­te­rior is wel­com­ing and its hand­some ex­te­rior wouldn’t look out of place in a pres­i­den­tial mo­tor­cade.

This mid-life up­date sees im­prove­ments to the Car­ni­val’s lo­cally tuned sus­pen­sion, which in­cluded Oz-spe­cific dampers, firmer springs and thicker an­tiroll bars. Han­dling is no­tably bet­ter on ru­ral roads with lit­tle com­pro­mise to its com­posed ride. De­spite its two-tonne heft, body roll is con­tained to a car-like level on bendy roads and oc­cu­pants in all three rows have enough lat­eral sup­port to stay in place dur­ing an en­thu­si­as­tic burst.

The hy­draulic power steer­ing, which Aussie Car­ni­vals get be­cause the RHD con­ver­sion couldn’t ac­com­mo­date the elec­tric set-up, has also been tweaked with a new pump and tighter tor­sion bar spring. The re­sults aren’t dra­matic, though, with the steer­ing wheel still feel­ing a lit­tle slack and dis­con­nected.

A more no­tice­able im­prove­ment is the new eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion taken from the Stinger, which re­places the sixspeed auto pre­vi­ously cou­pled to the 3.3-litre petrol V6 and 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four. As well as ex­tra ra­tios the new trans­mis­sion brings quicker and smoother shifts. Throt­tle re­sponse is vastly im­proved at all speeds, par­tic­u­larly with the V6, which pre­vi­ously re­quired you to al­most stomp on the pedal in a quest for mean­ing­ful torque.

The new trans­mis­sion also seam­lessly keeps up with the au­ton­o­mous throt­tle and braking of the ac­tive cruise con­trol that’s now stan­dard, along with AEB.

Aes­thetic en­hance­ments in­clude a restyled nose and bumper as well as a slicker head­light con­fig­u­ra­tion and re­vised grille that give it a closer fam­ily re­sem­blance to the Sorento. The de­sign of the lower tail­gate panel and rear three­quar­ter pan­els have been given a sub­tle restyle.

The airy in­te­rior has also been re­freshed, with up­dated in­stru­ment graph­ics and a less clut­tered cen­tre con­sole. The Car­ni­val range also gains Ap­ple Carplay/an­droid Auto, and sat-nav in all but the en­try-level S vari­ant.

Car­ni­val S and Si pric­ing is up $1000, with the leather-trimmed SLI and Plat­inum vari­ants (which ac­count for most pri­vate sales) jump­ing by $3000 and $2000 re­spec­tively. That sees prices run from $42,490 to $62,790, which still makes the Car­ni­val a strong value propo­si­tion against sim­i­larly equipped ri­vals, while con­tin­u­ing to make it a vi­able, and roomier, al­ter­na­tive to seven-seat SUVS.

Model Kia Car­ni­val S En­gine 3342cc V6 (60°), dohc, 24v Max power 206kw @ 6000rpm Max torque 336Nm @ 5200rpm Trans­mis­sion 8-speed au­to­matic Weight 2146kg 0-100km/h 8.2sec (es­ti­mated) Econ­omy 10.8L/100km Price $42,490 On sale Now

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