Kia's Carnival MPV will create a segment unto itself and this opportunity has the potential to upset the SUV oriented market
Kia has managed to captivate the Indian market with its initial offering, the Seltos compact SUV. And staying true to its promise of launching a car every six months, the Korean auto major will soon be rolling out its flagship offering the Kia Carnival. Inherently an MPV, this new entrant is likely to be positioned above the highly popular Toyota Innova Crysta, creating a segment unto itself by offering consumers an additional body style option that is versatile, feature loaded and packs powerful performance. We flew in, to the city of Nizams – Hyderabad, to test the new Kia Carnival across congested city streets and open stretches of highway. Here is what we made of it.
IF BIG FOOT WERE A CAR
When you first set sight on the Kia Carnival, it’s the MPV’s massive footprint that is sure to impress you. To put things into perspective the Kia Carnival is over five meters long and has a wheelbase that spans over three meters. Its dimensions are comparable to the upcoming Toyota Vellfire and Mercedes V Class, both of which are many fold the expected cost of the Carnival. Taking a look at the Innova Crysta, the Carnival is 380 mm longer, 155 mm wider but 40 mm shorter in height. The long wheelbase and immense width of the Kia Carnival have gone towards creating an extravagantly spacious cabin that will not fail to serve up generous amounts of room to kick back and relax, it is quite literally comparable to living room on wheels. Luggage space in the Kia Carnival measures 540 l.
What makes the Carnival’s space a lot more liveable is the way Kia engineers have managed to optimise the interior seating and space distribution. Kia will offer 7/8/9 seating options on the Carnival, along with an additional 7 seating option that has 2nd row VIP seats. The seating layout has been designed to be as flexible as possible with seats that slide back and forth, as well as sideways. The VIP seating option also gets a recline function with a leg rest for added comfort. In the nine seating configuration, Kia is offering six captain seats and a three seating last row bench. Kia has also designed unique stand up seats that offer ease if ingress and egress.
DELIVERING THE RIGHT PERFORMANCE
Since we have established just how large the Kia Carnival is, let me also mention that it weighs nearly two tonnes. In order to ensure the Carnival performs well in different driving conditions, Kia has bolted on its 2.2 l BS Vi compliant CRDi diesel engine that is rated to produce 200 PS of power and 440 Nm of torque. The engine has been mated to an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission.
This powertrain has been purposefully tuned to ensure it makes the Carnival has an all-rounder like performance. At low city speeds, the Carnival trots about happily with the engine delivering enough power and torque to get the MPV going with ease. Out on open roads, one can easily push the engine to extract more performance. Crossing the 150 km/h mark on the Kia Carnival is not really a stretch and the massive MPV gets there rather easily. If you want to get going in a hurry, you can also choose to shift manually, with the transmission offering minimal intrusions. The engine produces its peak power towards the higher side of the rev band at 3,800 rpm and the strong mid-range is where you feel a surge of power that never leaves you wanting for more. The heft 440 Nm of torque is available low down in the range at 1,500 rpm right up to 2,750 rpm, making the drive very effortless.
For its sheer size and weight, it is quite surprising to note the MPV is capable of delivering over 13 km/l. During our test runs as well, we were able to extract 12.8 km/l on average. Kia has also built in an eco-drive mode to extract a better fuel efficiency from the engine, this proved to be quite handy in bumper to bumper traffic, where there is minimal requirement of power. The Kia Carnival will be offered in India with six airbags that include driver, co-driver, side and curtain airbags. Other safety fitment includes ABS with EBD, electronic stability control, roll over mitigation, corner braking control, hill assist control, front and rear parking sensors. Kia has also fitted discs on all wheels, equipping the Carnival with adequate stopping power.
The Kia Carnival rides on a Macpherson Strut with coil springs in the front and a multi-link type suspension in the rear. The setup is softly sprung and the MPV is capable of cruising over bad roads quite well. While driving on smooth highways, the Carnival feels surefooted and is a confident driver even at speeds of 130 - 140 km/h. The steering setup is a hydraulic one, it feels heavier at slower speeds and could be slightly taxing in bumper to bumper traffic. On highways, the steering weighs up well and is fun to drive, offering adequate feedback from the wheels.
TECHNOLOGY AND CONVENIENCE
Kia is looking at creating a new segment altogether with the new Carnival and to ensure its success, the company has packed it up to the brim with features, functions and oodles comfort. To begin with the Carnival gets a power tailgate as well as power sliding doors for entry to the second and third rows. Other smart tech such as an air purifier with a fragrance diffuser are unique offerings. Kia is offering two sunroofs with the Carnival, adding to its lifestyle appeal. With the VIP seat setup, the company has added a 10.1 inch touchscreen infotainment systems for the second row occupants. These are cable of playback from mirrorlink, USB, AV-IN and HDMI.
Top spec variants of the Kia Carnival get features such as a 10-way power adjustable driver seat, driver seat ventilation, wireless smart phone charger, UVO connect for remote connectivity functions through smart watch and mobile app. Kia has also added a 220 V laptop charger on the Carnival, which it states is an India specific feature. The infotainment unit comes in the form of an 8.0 inch touchscreen AVNT with the navigation provided by MapMyIndia and live traffic updates through Here Maps. Other features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity, cruise control, electronic parking brake, tyre pressure monitoring system, keyless entry, push button start/ stop, automatic headlamps, multiple USB and 12 V charging sockets, three zone climate control with control lock for the different zones of the cabin.
The Kia Carnival has a modern to look to it and this has also been optimised to offer functionality. By working on the roof, sides and underbody engineers were able to achieve a coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.342. We also noted that the MPV scores well on the NVH front. Overall cabin comfort surpasses expectations and the smooth ride makes the journeys quite pleasurable. To drive or be driven in, the Kia Carnival is a unique offering for consumers looking to buy something other than SUV or an Innova. It has the right bells and whistles as well as premium appeal to ensure it makes a style statement on road. We anticipate the Kia Carnival will get launched in India with prices beginning at Rs 26 lakh. At this position, the Carnival has no direct competition and holds the potential to possible upset the dynamics of this SUV oriented market.