Kia motors is amongst the few automakers in India who can be proud of their 2019 numbers. They had a smashing debut in the market with the Seltos and within a couple of months they became one of the top five selling manufactures in India. But this also means they have a tough act to follow with their next car in India, the Carnival. The luxury MPV is set to be launched at the upcoming Auto Expo and going in tune with the luxury aspect the Korean maker organised a media drive of the car at the magnificent Taj Falaknuma in Hyderabad, the abode of the Nizams.
The first look is intimidating to say the least. This is a car that is more than 5 metres long, 2 metres wide and almost as tall as you. The good part is that despite being an MPV the Carnival comes across as a well designed product. The front is especially appealing with the chrome laden tiger nose grille and the extensive use of LEDs both on the headlamps as well as fog lamps. The long profile gets 18-inch alloys, chrome door handles and roof rails. The rear too is well defined with skid plates, a big spoiler and nice looking LED lamps. The car is certainly not as boxy as other MPVs are and that contributes to the premium appeal, something that may work in its favour.
The cabin is actually what the Carnival is all about. There are loads of features here some of which you may not even find in similar cars of much higher segments. There’s a 3-zone climate control, driver’s seat that is electronically controlled as well as ventilated, a wireless charger, twin sunroofs, an air purifier, a 220 V laptop charger, electric parking brake and an 8-speaker Harman sound system. However, the 8-inch size of the touch screen system or the small display on the instrument cluster does not compliment the car perfectly. On the second row you get the personal entertainment screens for both the passengers that are big in size, just how it should be. Roof mounted AC vents are present in 2nd and 3rd rows.
Space and loads of it is probably the biggest USP of the Carnival. The car comes in 3 different variants and 7/8/9 seat options. The top of the line variant called the Limousine is what we spent time with. It gets really comfortable captain seats on the second row with the third row seating 3 occupants. Owing the electric sliding doors ingress and egress is really easy on both the rear3 rows. The doors can be operated in multiple ways—remotely using the key, pressing buttons located outside on the door handle and inside on the B-pillar and the driver too has the controls. The second row seats also slide left/right in addition to sliding forward/rear, come with additional thigh support and also have stand up feature to provide easy access to third row. However all these controls are manual and the second row seats also do not get ventilation. The third row too is ideal just for 2 adults. The 9 seat version has 4 rows of seats with an aisle separating 2 seats on 2nd and 3rd rows. On the 8 seat version the middle seat on the second row can converted into an armrest or altogether removed. The last row can be folded and the seamlessly merge into the floor of the car. Even with the third row up the Carnival provides a boot space of 540 litres. A powered tailgate also does no harm to the MPV.
The Kia Carnival comes with a BS6 compliant Diesel engine that makes a maximum power of 200 PS and a very good torque figure of 440 Nm. These numbers ensure that the car is able to pull the weight of so many passengers with ease. The gear ratios on the 8-speed automatic transmission are long and that aids in a linear non-jerky drive. The NVH levels are good too and unless you push the throttle really hard this is a pretty silent cabin. The car provides good stability and impressive ride quality is amongst the biggest positives here. With the fuel tank of 60 litres you can munch long miles on this one without fatigue affecting you. Features like a UVO connect system, ESC with hill assist, roll over mitigation, cornering brake control and side & curtain airbags make the Carnival a safe set of wheels.
The Carnival almost creates a new segment in India with the kind of practicality and features it offers. Indian’s just love MPVs and when you add luxury it becomes a potent combination. But managing its size in the urban chaos or parking in tight spaces might be a bit of a task and will take some time in getting used to. Depending on how it is priced the Carnival might be a great option for the Innova Crysta owners to upgrade to as currently they have very limited options to look elsewhere.