Kia Carens 2 1.7 CRDi

We get behind the wheel of the stylish new Kia Carens MPV on British roads for the first time

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Family buyers will love the new Kia Carens – it looks great, feels robust inside and is good value. The compact dimensions and light controls make it easy to drive, while the seats offer plenty of flexibility and create enough space for demanding families. Add the competitive price tag, and it’s likely to be given serious consideration by compact MPV buyers.

The new Carens replaces not one but two cars, as Kia has no plans to introduce a new version of the larger Sedona MPV. Now it’s arrived in the UK, we’ve got the chance to find out if this is all the MPV Kia needs in its range.

Let’s start with what matters in this class: practicality. While the new Carens is smaller than before, its interior is roomier thanks to an extended wheelbase and seats that are mounted a little lower. This means generous head and legroom in the first two rows of seats, although adults will find the rearmost seats cramped.

These two seats have a 50:50 split, however, so if you fold down one, the car can carry six people and still have room for some luggage. Further forward, the middle row seats slide and recline independently, too.

Adding to the flexible appeal is a boot light that doubles as a removable torch, as well as a hidden stowage compartment for the tonneau cover. Plus, the boot gets luggage nets and hooks.

On the road, the new Carens strikes a nice balance between a comfortable ride and agile handling. It can’t match a Ford C-MAX for driving thrills, but that won’t be a concern to many MPV buyers. The softly sprung suspension means it remains comfortable and composed over bumps, although body roll is noticeable through corners.

The steering and gearbox are light and predictable, and as in the Cee’d you can vary steering resistance with a button on the wheel. There isn’t much feel, but you’ll notice the Carens majors on ease of driving.

The 1.7-litre diesel engine is refined, although as it offers just 114bhp it feels a little bit sluggish off the line. This is the slowest model in the range, ambling from 0-62mph in 12.6 seconds; buyers wanting more poke should consider the 134bhp version of this engine – it’s available with an automatic box in 2 trim, or with a manual in 3 trim for £3,300 extra.

Our lower-powered version is more economical, though, with the promise of more than 60mpg and emissions of just 124g/km.

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