The idea of buying an MPV/minivan may not get your pulse racing in terms of driving excitement or looks, but the cars that feature the most modern interpretation of the formula are certainly much better than you'd expect. Take for example Kia’s Carens people mover, which goes on sale in the UK on May 1st, with a starting price of £17,895, a choice of three engines and the classic Kia seven year warranty.
Now in its third generation, the Carens really shows how the segment has moved on, especially in terms of aesthetics. It looks more like a stylish estate, not a boxy seven-seater MPV. Featuring the Korean company's latest design DNA with the trademark grille and lights, it is one of the better-looking cars in its sector.
Engines-wise, prospective buyers will have a choice of three engines – one petrol and two diesels. If you don’t like your car drinking from the black pump, then the 1.6-liter Gamma GDI direct-injection petrol engine is your only choice. Featured in a multitude of other Kias and Hyundais, the 133hp unit is flexible and decently pokey, taking 10.9 seconds to reach 100 km/h (62 mph), while returning 44.1 mpg combined.
Still, the diesels will be the most popular engines in the UK, so they need to be good. A single unit is offered, in two different power levels: 114 hp and 260 Nm and 134 hp and 330 Nm – the more powerful one is almost one second quicker to 62 mph than the 1.6-liter petrol at 10.0 seconds. Efficiency is decent too, with the engines getting 60.1 mpg UK with 124 g/km CO2 and 56.4 mpg and 132 g/km respectively. A six-speed automatic gearbox is optionally available, but it dents the economy figures, so most will still opt for the standard manual-six.
Kia is offering the Carens in three different trim levels, simply called “1”, “2” and “3.” The list of standard features includes “seven seats, LED daytime running lamps, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshift, air conditioning, cruise control with a speed limiter, a six-speaker RDS radio/CD player with iPod connectivity, MP3 compatibility and Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming.”
Top spec cars get 17-inch alloys, panoramic sunroof and full-leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel, but the price also suffers in the process – the most you can pay for a Carens is £23,895.
By Andrei Nedelea