The concept of minivans still hasn’t arrived in India which is a bit surprising because of the number of people who are on the move at any given point of time on our roads. Currently the user has to choose between the 7-seater utility vehicles like the Innova Crysta or beyond that has to look at vehicles like the Force tempo traveler. Slotting nicely in between is the Carnival from Kia motors. Now we know that the launch of Kia’s first car in India is still about a year away and we know for sure that isn’t the Carnival. But the vehicle was shown to the India buyer at the Auto Expo earlier this year and we too were given a chance to drive the Carnival on our roads. Is this the car that could satiate India’s need of having a comfortable people’s mover?

Looks

Now it is not easy to make mini-van look appealing but Kia’s special emphasis on design in the last few years has resulted in this third generation of the Carnival looking quite alright. The signature tiger nose grille and the LED headlamps play their part well. The skid plates and the fog lamps down below also add a lot of character. But what instantly strikes you is just much bigger this car is than the Innova Crysta, it’s would be competitor. And that happens when you look at it from the profile. The flat roof notwithstanding the Carnival does look intimidating from this angle. The premium look continues on the rear also with the split tail lamps and some use of chrome. Overall at almost 400 longer and 150 mm wider than the Crysta, the Carnival is massive and might just refuse to fit into some parking slots.

Interiors

There’s a lot to look forward to inside the cabin of the Carnival. The 8-inch screen is borrowed from other Kia cars. It works with Apple car play and Android auto and also comes with navigation. The buttons are laid out well but there are just too many for your liking. The instrument cluster comes with an information screen that gives you important data. Front seats are heated as well as ventilated that adds to convenience. Getting in and out is super easy with the automatic sliding doors a cool feature that is sure to fascinate you. The middle seat on the second row can be converted into an armrest or be removed altogether. The Roof mounted AC vents all over the car have got a smooth finish inside a flat ceiling. The access to the third row is again very smooth as the second row seat nicely folds up by lifting a lever. And surprise the third row is better than any utility vehicle you must have seen but I would still not say if it’s made for a 6 foot tall occupant. And even with the third row of seats being utilized the Carnival still offers a very generous boot space of 960 liters.

Front seats are heated as well as ventilated, which adds to the convenience.

Engine

The Carnival is sold across the world and has multiple engine options. But the one that was on offer here is the 2.2 Diesel mill that churns out a good 197 bhp and 440 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that is very smooth and responsive at the same time. It doesn’t happen that that this engine and gearbox is unable to meet the demands of this heavy weight of a vehicle. At full tank of fuel the Carnival was showing us a range of 800 kms kilometers which is massive and impressive at the same time. At 5.7 meters the turning radius also isn’t too bad on the car. The steering itself is light and responds well.

Ride & Handling

The main purpose of a car like the Carnival is to transport people in utmost comfort and it is this job it performs with aplomb. The quality of ride is magnificent and even if there are bad roads you’re driving on you hardly feel the bumps and undulations. Handling is also pretty decent of this car and you can owe that to a height that I shorter than the Innova. However don’t try and get too adventurous with the Carnival because then a fair bit of body roll comes into play which the other occupants inside the car may not like.

Verdict

The Carnival barring the slightly big dimensions looks every bit made for a market like India. Id Kia does decide to launch it here the car has the potential to find many takers provided they do not have to pay too high premium over the Innova. The minivan is already sold in Pakistan and the company might be tempted to launch it in India launch sooner or later. It may also help that it offers a safe drive for all occupants as it offers front and side airbags along with collision warning, rollover mitigation and autonomous emergency braking.

Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars

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