The existing Kia Carens is a spacious, good-value seven-seater family car, yet its dowdy looks and ageing dynamics are hardly in keeping with the rest of Kia’s sharp-suited new range. But that’s all about to change when a brand-new Carens arrives in the UK next spring – and it's been unveiled at the Paris Motor Show.
Next to the outgoing Carens, this is an infinitely more stylish car, with chiselled fog lights, a tiger-snout grille and long swept-back headlights just like the Cee’d. “No matter what segment you look at, the number-one reason for a customer choosing a car is always style,” Vladislav Alexiev, product manager for the Cee’d family, told us.
Based on a development of the new Cee’d’s platform, the Carens adds 100mm to the wheelbase and is slightly wider than the hatchback, too. That frees up just enough room to squeeze a third row of seats (standard on all UK cars) into the back.
Kids will be quite happy back there, with cup holders and cubby holes either side, while parents will appreciate how easy it is to fold the third row flat into the floor. The second row folds flat, too, and each seat slides back and forth individually.
Unlike the smaller Ford B-Max, Kia opted against a sliding door to access the rear – even though this car has been tasked with replacing both the Carens and the larger Sedona MPV (which came with a sliding rear door) in the line-up.
“We considered sliding doors, but design is a priority. Our designers have a big say and they definitely didn’t want it,” Alexiev explained.
On the inside, the Carens is just as impressive. Clever storage areas, like the one hidden in the floor pan behind the front seats, show huge thought has gone into the design and build quality has taken a huge leap forward.
Premium options like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a panoramic roof and smart park assist prove how quickly Kia’s market positioning is changing.
Four engines will be available: a 1.7-litre diesel with either 113bhp or 134bhp, plus a 133bhp 1.6 GDI petrol engine. A 175bhp 2.0 GDI petrol will also be offered, but is unlikely to make it to the UK, while buyers will have the choice between a six-speed manual and a six-speed auto.
A torsion-beam rear suspension set-up, instead of the multi-link arrangement on the Cee’d hatchback, is a clear indication that the Carens’ chassis has been tuned for comfort, rather than handling. However, Alexiev insisted that the Carens’ suspension will be adapted specifically for UK roads.
The new Carens will go on sale in the UK next March. The reason for the delay, we’re told, is that this car will be built in Korea and takes six to eight weeks to be shipped over to the UK.