By Peter Fitch, July 28, 2014
Model spec: Kia Carens 2 Price: £20,595.00 Engine: 1.7 CRDi, 4-Cyl, Turbo-Diesel
BHP / Torque: 114 / 192 Max Speed: 112 CO2: 124g/km 0-62mph: 12.6 seconds
Economy/Range: 48 mpg combined Tax: £110/year
“I was expecting a bath tub and bidet levels of refinement set in a shanty town but the Caren’s is venturing into Audi-esq territory. Soft touch surfaces adorn throughout which contrast with flickers of piano black finishes and the switch gear feels solid and well weighted. Indeed everything is solidly put together from the outside to the inside”.However a longer wheel base and lowered seats means the Carens is just as spacious as before if not more so, thanks to the clever, aforementioned, packaging. My dim expectations of the Carens were vanquished immediately upon closer inspection. The entire body is made from higher tensile steel, simply put it means thicker steel, and that means the tinny-processed-food-can sound you used to get when shutting the doors from Kia’s of old is no more than just an embarrassing memory. Then there is the interior. I was expecting a bath tub and bidet levels of refinement set in a shanty town but the Caren’s is venturing into Audi-esq territory. Soft touch surfaces adorn throughout which contrast with flickers of piano black finishes and the switch gear feels solid and well weighted. Indeed everything is solidly put together from the outside to the inside. For European markets Kia has to cater for more refined tastes the fact is we Europeans are united by one common bond, we are all snobs, demanding the best whilst paying the least and Kia are certainly filling this niche. The Carens is available in four trim and equipment packages badged 1,2,3 and 3 Sat Nav with a further seven model derivatives. Prices start at around £16k and max out to just over £23k. Three direct-injection engines offered are the 1.6 litre GDi petrol and one turbo diesel, a 1.7 CRDi diesel which is available as two power derivatives, 114bhp and 134bhp. Trim levels come with good amounts of standard equipment the highlights being projection headlights with cornering, LED daylights, heated door mirrors, mp3 Bluetooth connectivity and music streaming and steering mounted controls. And of course the higher model spec you choose the more equipment you get. That’s all very good, but what’s even better is the driving experience, yes I did just say that. Start the engine and you hear just a murmur of the 1.7 CRDi diesel at idle. Accelerate away and and the murmur becomes a rousing mummer, the diesel engine pulls cleanly at low revs and strongly when called into action. The soundproofing is excellent even at cruising speeds the cabin space is efficiently quiet, save for the predictable wind and tyre noise. The driving experience is OK, the ride is comfortable and the handling forgivingly easy but it really doesn’t matter for this type of vehicle. The kia Carens isn’t fun to drive but it does the job and returns a healthy 48mpg on a combined run that’s and what families really want. Another area Kia has improved upon is the gearbox gone are the days when it felt as if you were shifting through a gearbox designed by Lego. Kia’s current 6-speed manual is engaging and satisfying to use and that means a lot to keen drivers. Passengers will find a spacious and accommodating environment, the second row seats slide back and forth and the third row seats, which are best suited for children, can be easily folded flat to increase standard boot space from 492 litre’s and up to 1,650 litre’s. The Kia Carens is everything motoring journalists hate but families like its not a driving demi-god but a well thought out, premium feeling MPV.