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New Kia Carens Set To Impress

By raccars Published

Kia's seven-seat MPV, the Carens, comes of age this month, as its third and easily best incarnation reaches showrooms. Previous generations of Carens have been less than inspiring, but following Kia's notable attempts to improve its brand image, the Carens, along with the rest of the firm's range, is starting to look very appealing.

The new Carens follows the current Kia design language as seen on its successful Cee'd hatchback, with a so called 'tiger nose' grille and a set of flowing, modern curves all round. A 'wheel at each corner' stance makes the cabin of the Carens deceptively spacious, while a well-judged engine range shows the Korean brand has focused on driving experience as much as practicality or styling.

There are three units to choose from: a 1.6 litre CDI with 133bhp and direct injection for 10.9 second to 60mph and a top speed of 115mph. Next up is a pair of diesels using Kia's impressive 1.7 litre CRDi, a 114bhp model and a tweaked version generating 134bhp and benefiting from a six speed automatic transmission. The more basic diesel trundles up to 60mph in 12.6 seconds, while the perkier unit covers the distance in 10 seconds – none of which is going to inflame the passions of sports car fans, but it's rare to find an MPV with an equally rewarding drive.

A range of dynamic control programmes nicely balance the requirements of comfort and economy with performance, helping to justify the new Carens' higher £18,000-£24,000 price tag. While these figures take the Carens out of the bargain bucket, the significantly improved build quality, performance and generous provision of kit, more than make up for the extra outlay. Even the entry-level model includes projecting and cornering headlights, seven seats, LED DRLs, heated electric wing mirrors, height adjustable driver's seat, a leather trimmed tilt and reach adjustable steering wheel, leather trimmed gearstick knob, air conditioning, electric windows all round, speed limited cruise control and a CD stereo, with six speakers and iPod and MP3 compatibility, plus voice recognition Bluetooth and music streaming function – not to mention a full complement of modern safety features.

The Kia Carens is also economical to run and buyers will surely be tempted by Kia's seven year warranty. If you can put badge snobbery aside, the Carens could possibly be the best option, even among the quality offerings in its market segment.

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