Kia Carnival Luxury MPV in Cartoq’s First Drive Review

For over a decade, the MPV segment has been ruled by cars like Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and Toyota Innova which got discontinued and was replaced by Innova Crysta which was a premium option over the older Innova. We did not have a lot of options when it came to an MPV. Many manufacturers like Renault, Nissan had tried introducing MPVs in our market but never got the response that Ertiga and Innova got. Currently in the market we have Maruti Ertiga, Toyota Innova Crysta, Mahindra Marazzo and recently launched sub-4 meter compact MPV Triber. Things will soon be changing as Kia is all set to launch their premium or luxury MPV: Carnival in India. A few days ago, Kia Motors India invited us to Hyderabad – one of the largest and wealthiest of the India’s former princely states to experience their all new premium MPV Carnival. As of now, the only affordable premium MPV that we have in the country is Innova Crysta. Can Kia pose a threat to the all time favourite Toyota Innova, with the Carnival MPV?. Let’s find out in this review.Kia Carnival 1

The first thing that comes to the mind when you look at the Carnival is that, it is majestic. In comparison to the Toyota Innova Crysta, which is expected to be it’s nearest rival the Carnival is larger in every dimension except for the height. The Kia Carnival is 5,115 mm long, 1,985 mm wide and 1,740 mm height. The wheelbase of the Kia Carnival is 3,060 mm which is huge in comparison to the 2,750 mm of the Innova Crysta.

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Kia Carnival is a good looking MPV. The aesthetically crafted headlights with projector LED headlamps with DRLs, signature Tiger nose grille with chrome inserts, ice cube design to the fog lamp along with chrome garnish around it, make the front of the Carnival look premium. It is only when we look into the side profile the car, we come to know about the sheer size of this MPV. The large glass area, chrome strip over he window with large and wide opening doors both on front and the rear.

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Unlike, Innova Crysta and other MPVs in the segment, Carnival has a unique feature. The rear door of the MPV is a sliding door that can be opened and closed electrically. Kia calls this ‘Smart Power Sliding Rear Doors’. Next attractive feature that you will notice on the side are those wheels. Kia Carnival gets 18 inch alloy wheels as standard across the range. In the higher variant, it gets Sputtering alloy wheels which add to the bling factor on this MPV. The lower variants get normal diamond cut alloy wheels.

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Coming to the rear, it has a plain and simple looking design with split LED tail lights, shark fin antenna on the roof, chrome strip running between the tail lights and skid plate on the bumper. The rear gate can also be opened and closed electrically. Overall design of the Carnival is unmistakably MPVish. The built quality is commendable as the structure uses high strength steel and adhesives to save the car and the occupants in case of an accident. None of the elements look out of place and looks quite elegant and gives a premium vibe from the outside.

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We drove the top-of the line Limousine trim that meant we did not miss on any of the features that Kia offers in the Carnival MPV. The cabin of the Carnival is huge. It has loads and loads of space on the inside. The large glass area that we mentioned earlier helps make the cabin more airy. The dashboard of the car gets a dual tone finish with black on top and beige on the bottom. The top portion gets a soft touch material whereas the lower portion or the beige portion gets hard plastic.

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There are wooden inserts on the dash which get a gloss finish to them. The door pads are well cushioned and at the centre of the dash we have the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports Android auto and Apple CarPlay with inbuilt navigation. The lower variant also get the touchscreen but, miss on the inbuilt navigation feature. The top variant also gets an 8-speaker sound system from Harmon/Kardon for impressive sound output.

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The top variant also Kia’s UVO connected car feature which is missing in the lower trims. The Limousine trim we drove had the Nappa leather seats which were ventilated on the driver side. The tri-zone or three-zone Air-con (driver, co-driver and rear passengers) had an excellent performance and is standard across the range.

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The seats were comfortable and had enough thigh support. Coming to the rear seat story is no different. This is probably going to be the space where the Carnival owners would be spending most of their time. It is a luxurious space with captain or as Kia calls them ‘VIP seats’. the seat also get a leg support if you want to relax on the move. This is only available in the Limousine version. The rear seats can be adjusted to passengers’ comfort while he watches his favourite movie on the 10.1-inch rear seat entertainment system.

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The switches for opening the electric sliding door is positioned on the B-pillar. it can even be opened by the driver using the dedicated button at the front. in an age where every  manufacturer is is giving panoramic sunroofs, Kia chose to give a bit more by providing dual sunroof. Both sunroofs can be operated individually by the driver or the rear passenger can exclusively open the rear sunroof using the dedicated button on the roof. A politician sticking out from the rear sunroof of a Carnival is during election campaigns might become a common sight in the coming time. The car also gets manual blindfolds for both second and third row of seats to escape from the direct sunlight and keep the cabin cool. it wouldn’t be wrong to say that person sitting in the second row of Carnival will be the most happy person as it impresses with features as he cocoons in the luxury of the cabin.

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Another unique feature that Kia Carnival gets is the 220V laptop charging socket for second row passenger. It also offers wireless charging at the front, A huge storage compartment under the handrest and two glove boxes along with multiple USB points to charge your phones. It also has cup holders for driver and passengers on all three rows and the door can easily hold a 1 litre bottle.

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Done with the first and second, we come to the third row of seats. getting in and out of the third row is quite simple in comparison to the other MPVs because of the amount of space available on the inside. The second row can be slided forward or adjusted left or right for easy entrance or exit of the third row passengers. Comparatively, the third row also offers a decent amount of space and can easily seat 3 people comfortably. It also gets a recline feature as an added bonus. when not in use, the third row seats can be folded and they will completely sink in leaving a flat surface at the rear.

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Carnival with three rows of seats up will provide 540 litres of boot space. It can be increased to 1500+ litres by folding the third row. Overall, the cabin of the Carnival is a nice place  to be and the second row passenger is the one who will enjoy this the most. This is something which is apt for the people who like to be driven around without compromising on the comfort factor. With Standard safety features like dual airbags, ABS with EBD, Front and Rear Disc Brakes, ISO-FIX, and Rear Parking Sensors Carnival is safe too.

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Kia Carnival is not a new car. It has been in the international market with a 3.3L V6 petrol engine and 2.2L turbo diesel engine. what we would get here in India is the turbo charged diesel engine only. The diesel engine produces 200 PS of power and 440 Nm of peak torque. The engine itself has that grunt but, there is significant amount of turbo lag which can be felt in lower RPMs. Once the engine hits the sweet spot it just flies. The Carnival is a heavy car and this can be felt while driving it. NVH levels are commendable in Carnival considering the fact that it has a massive diesel engine under the hood.

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The suspension felt a bit soft while going on uneven roads and the hydraulic power steering felt a bit heavy. This is great when you are doing triple digits on a highway as it inspires confidence, but when you are in city or a crowded street maneuvering through traffic can become a bit tiring for the driver because of the very same heavy steering. Being a large luxurious MPV, there is considerable amount of body roll that can be felt in the corners and this is not a small car and you would not want to take corners at higher speeds. The engine feels very refined and cherry on top is the 8-speed automatic gearbox that comes as standard. Kia Carnival is not about driving it is more about how you are being driven around. The rear seat keeps the passenger in comfort and makes every ride enjoyable.

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Coming to the question that we asked at the beginning. Will it pose a threat the Innova Crysta? Well, it depends. It offers a lot more in terms of features, the space on offer, boot space and obviously the comfort. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Kia with Carnival might create a new segment in itself where it sits above Innova Crysta. A person who is planning to buy an Innova Crysta will definitely give Carnival a look and will definitely be surprised. The only missing piece in the puzzle at the moment is the pricing With all these features, it is expected that Carnival will be more expensive than the Innova Crysta. By how much? We’ll know at the Auto Expo 2020.