Kia has shown us how best to launch a new brand in SUV-loving India, with the Seltos. It’s been just six months since the Seltos came out and they aren’t resting on their laurels but giving us an all-new luxury MPV proposition – the Carnival.
This is something that we were missing in the Indian Car Industry but we never knew. It is obvious to compare it to the Innova Crysta which was the closest we ever had to such a thing. But the two can’t be more different. The Carnival has a transverse engine monocoque chassis that is front wheel drive, whereas the Innova is built on a body on frame that is rear wheel drive and has an engine sitting longitudinally. It is much longer and wider at 5115mm and 1985mm, while the Innova Crysta measures 4735mm and 1830mm respectively. The dimensions of the Carnival are much more in line with the Mercedes V class and Toyota Velfire although they are much taller vans. Because it is lower, the Carnival feels so long and wide on the outside. The styling is pleasing with the large Kia grille taking centre stage with long headlamps and muscular bumper underneath. The 18 inch chrome wheels are too bling to our tastes, but buyers in this category wouldn’t mind. The rear is very conservative in style and like the rest of the car looks classy enough.
The generous dimensions mean, there is a lot of room inside. The Carnival comes in seven seater (2+2+3), eight seater (2+3+3) and nine seater (2+2+2+3) configurations. That’s right, the 9 seater variant has four rows of seating! What we tested was the top spec Limousine 7 seater variant which has two big individual seats in the middle row. This is the place to be, in a Carnival. You get all sort of stuff you find in luxury cars, plus a lot more. There is a second sunroof, manual sun blinds, your own climate control panel, a 220V power outlet for your laptop etc. You also get two 10.1inch touch screen tablets with USB, HDMI, screen mirroring and internet capability to keep yourself entertained while on the move. The manually adjustable seats are clad with Nappa leather and can recline, slide back and forth, move inward and outward and have fold out calf supports that extend for length. Your feet touches the seat in front when you have it folded out though, so it kind of defeats the point of having that in full extension. The last row is comfortable with the middle row moved a bit forward to liberate some extra room, but you still sit with your knees up. Getting into the last row is fairly easy with the VIP seats moved inwards or the seats raised up vertically – what Kia calls are ‘stand up’ seats. The entry is via big sliding doors that are electrically operated, either via buttons on the door handle, or the overhead controls at the front or via the remote. The boot is fairly huge and so deep it can take big suitcases and a couple of travel bags with ease. The third row folds flat in 60:40 layout to maximize luggage space even further but with all rows in place, capacity is still massive at 540litres!
General cabin quality is excellent. The plastics are top grade and the controls feel like they came out of a luxury sedan. The buttons are well finished and the knobs have a knurled finish around them. There is an 8 inch Harmon Kardon touch screen infotainment system upfront and dual zone climate control for the front. The car also gets 10 way electrically adjustable driver seat, ventilated front seats, dual sunroofs, cruise control, wireless charging, auto headlamps, air purifier, rear camera, hill start assist, hands free tail gate, front and rear parking sensors etc. You also get all the UVO connected car features from the Seltos with an extra layer of functionality added in with a new smart watch app.
The Carnival is powered by a 2.2 litre turbo diesel with 200bhp and 440Nm and the only transmission on offer is an 8 speed automatic. The Carnival is a heavy car at 2.2 tonnes, and so performance is best described as adequate. The car gets to speed in a relaxed manner and the transmission while not very quick, gets its job done. It feels smooth and is at home whether in the city or on the highway. The engine is very refined and is very relaxed at highway speeds too, thanks to the 8 speed gearbox.
The ride quality is good for the most part. The big wheels and soft suspension means, it absorbs bumps and potholes with ease. It does get a little unsettled on certain sections of the road and a bit more fine-tuning with the suspension would have gone a long way here. The Carnival doesn’t feel as big once you get behind the wheel and that’s down to the high seating position and overall great visibility. The highway manners of the Carnival are good too. It feels planted on the road, the steering is well weighted and the 235/60 R18 tyres give it good amount of grip. There is some respect to be had when tackling fast corners or calling for quick direction changes because it’s a big, heavy, softly sprung MPV at the end of the day.
The Carnival is everything that a big family needs but something they didn’t know they were missing until now. It is a full size MPV that is a cut above the current champion – the Innova. Kia has struck the right chord by offering the Carnival in different seating configurations. It is perfect for the chauffeur driven who likes to sit higher than in most sedans, or hotels who want their VIP guests picked up in comfort and style or for those fleet operators who want the most number of seats in the 9 seater configuration. The 2.2 litre diesel is efficient and comes with an automatic. It also comes loaded with features and is an easy car to live with on a daily basis. It seems Kia has another winner in its hands, and it all boils down to how they price it.