New Kia Carens

We drive the stylish new Kia Carens MPV ahead of its arrival in UK showrooms this summer

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Carens completes Kia’s design revolution and is a car that the firm can be just as proud of as any other. The signature Schreyer style is a little diluted in MPV form, but that’s a tough challenge for any designer. Meanwhile, practicality is impressive for a car that’s smaller than its predecessor, and there are huge improvements to comfort, refinement and quality. Kia’s C-segment MPV is now a real contender - provided it is priced competitively.

Peter Schreyer has led the stylish redesign of Kia’s range since 2006 but the arrival of the all-new Carens signals one of the firm’s biggest challenges yet - designing a cool MPV.

Our first glimpse of the new Carens on the road shows that Kia has got the design of the Carens spot-on. It features the full compliment of Schreyer styling cues, such as the swept-back headlights, tiger snout grille and pronounced creases in the car’s sides.

There’s a 50mm-longer wheelbase than the model it replaces to help maximise space inside this seven-seater, and while the seven-seat Grand C-MAX and Grand Scenic look like dumpier versions of the five-seat C-MAX and Scenic models, the Carens looks sharp on the road.

All of this style doesn’t come at the expense of practicality, though. The front passenger seat back can fold flat, as well as the second and third row of seats so you can carry really long loads. The middle row can be slid backwards and forwards and each of the three seats can be individually folded. The rear seats flip up from a flat boot floor with relative ease, but they’re no the most comfy to sit in because of a lack of head and legroom.

With all seven seats in place, boot space is pretty tight, with just 103 litres available – that’s even worse the MINI’s 160-litre load area. Nevertheless, if you fold down the third row, there’s a 492-litre load area and with the second row folded that increases to 1650 litres. The seatbelts for the third row do get in the way a little and the bottom corners of the boot lip aren’t quite squared off enough, but it does have a few useful features. That means underfloor storage, a 12V power socket and the option of a light that you can use as a torch.

The dashboard design may not be the most exciting but it feels logically laid out and solidly built – for family buyers those are probably high up on the interior wishlist anyway. There are plenty of cubby holes dotted around the interior, too, including a couple of under-floor spaces in the middle row and a centre cubby ahead of the gearlever which also houses a USB socket, aux-in connector and two 12V powerpoints.

Our Carens was powered by Kia’s 134bhp 1.7-litre diesel engine which, when warmed-up, is a very quiet and refined unit that has no problem shifting the car’s 1,516kg kerbweight. It’s good on the motorway, with very little engine noise making its way in to the Carens’s well-isolated cabin.

If you’re looking to keep running costs down then this engine’s 56.4mpg fuel economy figure will be good news, as will the relatively low CO2 emissions of 132g/km.

If driving enjoyment is high on your wishlist then you’ll be disappointed by the notchy gearshift and the vague steering. Still, there’s not that much body roll in corners and the ride is soft and supple, taking the sting out of long journeys.

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