Kia Carens is getting ready for India launch on 15th Feb – It will rival the likes of Alcazar, Safari, Hector Plus and XUV700
Every once in a while, new products get launched in the automotive market, which land up becoming segment creators. That is essentially what Kia probably wants to do with its Carens.
As we all know, the Carens made its global debut last year and is all set to get launched tomorrow, on 15th Feb 2022. Bookings of the vehicle have already commenced and ahead of the price reveal, we were invited by Kia for the Media Drive of the Carens. Here are our first impressions of the Carens.
Kia Carens Exteriors
Kia Carens happens to be an MPV which has the SUV gene imbibed in it. This is clearly visible from the way the Carens looks from the outside. The overall design of the Carens looks mature and clean, something, which is now not-so-common in many new-age South Korean vehicles.
At the front, the most distinctive design elements are the DRLs, which as per Kia, have been inspired by constellations. The front grille follows Kia’s Tiger Nose design philosophy.
On the side, the Carens has a typical MPVish stance. Its 16-inch dual tone alloys and the black side cladding add to its SUVish look. The rear is relatively simple and the LED tail-lamps and the bar connecting the two, land up standing-out from other elements. Thanks to its design, the Carens looks well balanced and new-age at the same time.
New Kia Carens Interiors
The Carens will be sold in 2 seating configurations, a 6-seater and a 7-seater. The 6-seater version gets 2 captain seats on the second row while the 7-seater variant gets 60-40 split second row seats.
Kia has chosen a beige theme for the interiors, which provides an airy feel to the cabin. The cabin feels premium and gets a combination of hard and soft touch plastics.
The front row seats are comfortable to sit-in and also get ventilation functionality. Surprisingly, the driver-side seat misses out on power-adjust function, which was odd considering that the top-end Carens would mostly cost around the INR 20 lakhs mark. Kia does offer multiple other features to compensate for a feature miss or two.
The second row seats are also comfortable to sit in. 2 regular adults can comfortably plan on 12-hour long drives in the second row however the space might be a little cramped for 3 full sized adults for long drives.
Addition of an air-purifier on the back of the driver’s seat cuts down the leg space for the passenger in the second row, however, overall space for the second row is decent. What we really liked was the genuine one-touch tumble down functionality of the second row seats. You can literally use just your little finger to tumble down the seat to make space for entry into the third row.
The third row is comfortable for 2 regular sized adults for short drives. Kia has ensured that the passengers on both, second and third rows get sufficient comfort, and hence has provided dedicated cooling vents, cubby holes and charging points for all passengers.
Space and In-cabin comfort are two areas in which the Carens clearly stands out. Overall build quality of the vehicle looked good, however there were certain areas which had sub-optimal welding spots, which we didn’t really expect in a Kia.
Being a Kia, the Carens comes loaded with multiple creature comfort features including an 10.25 inch touchscreen infotainment unit which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 8-speaker Bose surround sound system, digital infotainment unit, 64-color ambient lighting, a sunroof and much more.
On the safety front, the top-end Carens packs ISOFIX child seat mounts, 6 airbags, rear parking sensors, Tyre pressure monitoring system, disc brakes on all wheels, ESC, ABS and Downhill Brake Control. NCAP rating for the Carens isn’t out so we won’t be able to comment further.
The Carens is going to be offered with a plethora of powertrain options. These are the same which we have seen on the Seltos as well. The list includes a 1.4 litre 140 PS GDI petrol which comes mated to either a 7-speed DCT or a 6-speed MT.
The entry-level trims will be getting a 1.5 litre naturally aspirated 115 PS petrol motor which will come mated to a 6-speed MT. Diesel enthusiasts will have the option to choose the 1.5 litre 115 PS CRDi diesel motor which will be offered with both a 6-speed AT and a 6-speed MT gearbox.
Drive and Handling
We got to drive the 1.4 litre Turbo petrol motor along with the 6-speed gearbox and the 1.5 litre diesel engine with the AT. Driving experience in both units was extremely comfortable. The manual transmission came along with a light clutch which made city-driving easy.
While the numbers might not express it, but the 1.4 turbo felt adequate for only highway cruising. It didn’t really provide a spirited driving experience, which we expected from the turbo motor. On the other hand, it was the diesel automatic which felt little more powerful. The availability of paddle shifters further enhanced the overall experience.
Both the units behaved well on roads and on the turns. Body roll was also fairly contained. The steering set-up was light which didn’t make us feel as if we were driving a car which measures around 4.5m in length. Steering feedback was decent and we have no complaints on that department, especially considering that it is an MPV.
Suspension setup for the Carens has been tuned in such a way that it takes care of most undulations found on typical Indian roads. Good insulation of external noise further added to the premium quotient of the cabin.
The Carens has been positioned as a Recreational Vehicle by Kia Motors. However, what will truly define its positioning is its pricing which hasn’t been revealed as of now. Considering our experience, it won’t be fair to compare the Carens to the likes of Ertiga, XL6 or the Innova Crysta. The duo of Ertiga and XL6 will undoubtedly be considerably cheaper than the Carens and the Crysta is targeted for a different customer base altogether.
Carens, in our understanding, would be targeted for buyers from urban centers who prefer the comfort of driving an elevated sedan with additional seating capacity. This basically translates into an MPV, which has some SUV inspired bold looks and a bit of a premium quotient. The Carens fits the bill appropriately.
Our opinion on the product will depend a lot upon the pricing, however, if Kia wouldn’t have cut corners at certain places, it would have made the Carens a much more premium product. We don’t think customers spending ~INR 20L for the vehicle would mind an additional spend of INR 50K. However, that additional effort to not to compromise with the quality could have gone long way for the brand.
Overall, the Carens does essentially what it has been designed to do. It doesn’t try to be an SUV or an enthusiast’s car, which it clearly isn’t. It is a semi-premium urban MPV with some SUV styling and does its job fairly well. If priced right, it won’t be a surprise to see the Carens becoming the preferred Family Car for Urban Indian car buyers.