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Kia Carnival Review (First Drive): Extravagant On Space, Feature-Loaded And BSVI-Compliant

DriveSpark Bureau

Kia Motors India entered the Indian market last year with the Seltos SUV as its first offering. The South Korean brand created a huge impact in the country with the midsize SUV receiving an overwhelming response.

The South Korean car manufacturing giant also announced plans to introduce one new product every six months in the Indian market. Staying true to their promise, Kia Motors is now on the verge of doing just that. The Kia Carnival MPV is expected to go on sale sometime around the Auto Expo 2020, will be the second product from the brand for the Indian market.

However, unlike the Kia Seltos, the Carnival isn't a brand new product; it is a globally-acclaimed luxury minivan in most international markets and is popularly called the 'Sedona'. The Kia Carnival, once launched in the Indian market will create its own segment, positioning itself somewhere between the Toyota Innova Crysta and the Mercedes-Benz V-Class.

Kia Motors introducing a premium MPV in the Indian market is a bold move, especially with just one other product on offer. However, the introduction of the Carnival is in-line with Kia's plan of establishing itself as a premium brand in the Indian market.

We got to review the Carnival recently and were highly impressed with what this luxury MPV had to offer. The MPV definitely allows the brand to make a bold statement, however, the question is: does it have what it takes to recreate the same success story for the Korean brand as the Seltos? Here's our review of the Kia Carnival.

Design & Style

The Kia Carnival definitely turns heads on the road. The colossal size and stance of the Carnival itself command a second look. The design of the Carnival MPV is what one would consider 'elegant' and 'classy', and it doesn't feature any over-the-top cuts, creases or unnecessary lines.

Starting off with at front, the 'luxury MPV' comes with the brand's signature tiger-nose grille that dominates the front fascia. The grille comes with thin chrome inserts, while a thick strip of chrome surrounds the entirety of the grille itself.

Flanking either side of the front grille is a pair of sweptback LED projector headlamps that feature integrated turn signals. Positioned below the headlamps are a pair of LED fog lamps on either end of the front bumper.

These fog lamps, which Kia likes to call 'ice-cubes', are placed within a C-shaped housing that is finished in chrome. Apart from the fog lamps, the front bumpers of the Kia Carnival also has the air dam at the centre, while the bottom part has silver scuff plates as well.

Moving to the side profile of the Carnival, the MPV carries forward a rather straight-forward silhouette with clean lines and minimalistic design elements. The highlights on the side profile are the small kink in the C-pillar, the blacked-out D-pillar, and the groove for the MPV's electronic sliding door mechanism, which is expertly crafted into the Carnival's shoulder line that runs across its entire length.

The Kia Carnival MPV sits on a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, finished in chrome; the only 'bling' element on the car. However, these wheels do compliment the Carnival well, adding that extra bit character to an otherwise clean and simple side profile.

Coming to the rear profile, the Kia Carnival continues to feature a minimalistic design. The large boot-lid on the Carnival MPV comes with a thin chrome strip at the centre, just above the registration plate housing. The Carnival also comes with wrapped LED taillights, while the bumpers feature a pair of reflectors at either end and a silver scuff plate at the centre.

Interiors & Practicality

This is where the Kia Carnival really gets interesting. Being a lengthy MPV, the Kia Carnival offers plenty of space inside, with a number of seating configurations depending on the variant chosen.

Kia offers the Carnival either as a seven, eight or nine-seater MPV. The variant we drove was the top-of-the-line 'Limousine' trim, offered with a seven-seat configuration. This includes the two driver seat upfront, two individual captain seats in the middle-row, and bench seats at the third row that is comfortable for three passengers.

Moving from front to back, the driver's seat on the Kia Carnival comes with electronically-adjustable seats, offering maximum comfort while also giving a commanding view of the road ahead. The steering wheel comes wrapped in leather which feels extremely premium. The steering also comes with mounted-controls for the audio, calls, and other functionalities.

Behind the steering wheel are the analogue instrument cluster with two circular dials at either end, one for a tachometer, and the other for a speedometer. Between the two analogue dials is a 3.5-inch MID that offers more information about the vehicle such as the gear indicator, distance-to-empty, fuel levels, and others.

The dashboard on the Kia Carnival comes with a dual-tone scheme with soft-touch materials all around. The dashboard also comes with a piano-black finish surrounding the central infotainment system. The layout of the dashboard is smart, with all the controls and functionalities within easy reach of the driver.

The Carnival MPV comes with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system at the centre. This display offers a host of features as well, such as in-built navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, vehicle telematics; among a host of others.

The infotainment system also comes with Kia's proprietary UVO connected car technology. This allows the car to be connected to the customer's smartphone via the 'UVO' app available for both Apple and Android devices. The connected car technology further brings in a host of features, including voice assistant, vehicle diagnostics, and remote control among a long list of 35 features.

Above the dashboard are overhead switches that control the opening and closing of the dual sunroofs on offer. There are also controls to open and close both the side doors and the tailgate as well.

The AC vents flank the infotainment display on either side. The climate control settings are placed below the infotainment display, in part as physical buttons and rotary knobs. The Kia Carnival MPV comes with Tri-Zone automatic climate control which cools even the large cabin space surprisingly fast.

The gear lever is positioned perfectly within reach to the driver. The Kia Carnival also comes with an electronic parking brake, ventilated seats for the driver, and other features as well; the controls for which are next to the gear lever.

The front passenger and driver seats are extremely plush and comfortable. The leather upholstery on the seats provides excellent levels of cushioning that offer great side, lumbar & under-thigh support. The seats, similar to the dashboard, are finished in a dual-tone theme. The comfort levels at the front are further accentuated by the presence of a central armrest.

The Kia Carnival comes with standard electronic sliding doors on either side, opening up to the middle-row of seats. The top-spec 'Limousine' variant we drove came with individual captain seats that are finished in premium Nappa-leather.

Getting into the MPV is a big step-up, literally. However, the grab handles positioned on the B-pillar do aid in easier ingress, especially for elder occupants. Once in, the captain seats in the middle row, offer excellent comfort.

The seats can be reclined and slid back as well, further increasing legroom in the second row. The captain seats also come with foldable leg rests, giving middle-row passengers a luxurious experience. Both the captain seats also come with individual armrests, further adding to the luxury quotient in the middle-row.

Finally getting to the third-row on the Kia Carnival, the MPV comes with bench seats. The seats are comfortable with a decent amount of cushioning as well. Legroom, however, is sufficient at best. The sliding second-row captain seat allows for more space for the third-row passengers, making for a slightly more comfortable drive.

Passengers in the middle and third-row also get their own AC vents, with its controls positioned above the rear doors.

Similar to the seven-seater, Kia also offers the Carnival in an eight and nine-seater variant as well. The eight-seater configuration comes with an additional seat in the middle-row. The nine-seater variant, on the other hand, comes with four-rows of seating. This includes the front driver and passenger seats, two-rows of individual captain chairs and a fourth-row with bench seats.

In terms of practicality, the 5.1-metre long MPV comes with a host of storage areas and cubby spaces all around the interiors. This includes a dual glove box on the dashboard, cubby spaces on the centre console, and more pockets on the doors and rear part of the captain seats.

In terms of boot capacity, with all seats up on the seven-seater 'Limousine' variant, the Carnival offers a large, 540-litre of boot space. This can further be extended to 1647-litres by folding the third-row seats, or an even larger 2700-litres by folding the middle-row as well.

Length (mm) 5115
Width (mm) 1985
Height (mm) 1740
Wheelbase (mm) 3060
Ground Clearance (mm) 180
Boot Capacity (litres) 540

Variants, Key Features & Safety

The Kia Carnival is offered in a range of three variants: Premium, Prestige and the top-of-the-line Limousine (the variant we drove). All three trims offer a range of features and equipment, including all the bells and whistles one can expect in a car of its stature.

Here are some of the key features on the Kia Carnival MPV:

  • Eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Eight-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system
  • 220V laptop charger
  • 10-way electronically-adjustable driver seat
  • Ventilated driver seat
  • Smart Key with push-button start/stop
  • Central locking
  • Electrically-adjustable & foldable ORVMs
  • 18-inch Sputtering finish alloy wheels
  • 60:40 folding 3rd-row seats
  • UVO Connected technology
  • Wireless charging

Here are some of the important safety equipment featured on the Kia Carnival

  • ABS with EBD
  • Hill-Start Assist Control
  • Roll-Over Mitigation
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Multiple Airbags
  • Front & Rear Parking Sensors
  • Seat-Belt Pretensioners
  • Immobiliser
  • ISOFIX Child-Seat Anchors

Driving Impressions & Performance

The Kia Carnival MPV is powered by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. It produces 200bhp at 3800rpm and 440Nm of torque between 1500 and 2750rpm and comes paired to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission unit.

The diesel engine does well to chug along, considering the massive 2.2-tonne weight of the MPV. The power from the engines comes in gradually and in a linear fashion. While the SUV does not feel underpowered, it does lack some punch from the engine. The MPV prefers to gradually build up speed rather than a sudden burst of power.

The transmission unit isn't the best-in-the-business as well. There is a slight lag between when you put your foot down and the car actually accelerating. However, the responsiveness from the gearbox is better during the low speed runs in the city and the gentle cruise on the highways. The Carnival is not something you would drive hard, but rather cruise along for long distances.

The suspension on the Carnival MPV is a bit on the softer side. This allows for a considerable amount of body roll, even during a simple lane change. The MPV is definitely not ready for quick changes in direction, however, on highway straights and easy turns, the Carnival definitely offers good steering response and offers good confidence as well; considering its weight.

Braking on the Kia Carnival is good, with disc brakes on either end. The MPV offers good stopping power with its progressive brakes. However, pressing the brakes hard might be a scary affair; as it the entire weight of the SUV appears to shift forward.

The NVH levels are excellent with little to no noise entering the cabin. There is also very little noise from the diesel engine, however, at higher revs, a slight amount of engine noise does manage to creep inside.

Engine 2.2-litre
Power (bhp) 200
Torque (Nm) 440
Transmission 8-AT
Fuel Tank Capacity 60-litres

Pricing, Colours & Availability

Kia Motors India is yet to announce pricing for the Carnival MPV in the Indian market. However, considering the number of features it has to offer and its performance, we expect Kia to price the Carnival roughly between Rs 35 lakh and Rs 38 lakh, ex-showroom. Having said that, the exact pricing details of the Carnival MPV are yet to be announced, closer to the date of launch.

The Kia Carnival will be available in three colour options: Aurora Black Pearl, Steel Silver and Glacier White Pearl. Once launched in India, the luxury MPV will be on sale across the country and sold through all company dealerships in the Indian market.

Competition & Fact Check!

The Kia Carnival offers a host of premium and luxury features, positioning it in a segment between the Toyota Innova Crysta and the Mercedes-Benz V-Class. Hence, the Carnival MPV once launched in the Indian market, will not have any direct rivals in the country.

Having said that, the MPV segment in the Indian market is dominated by the Toyota Innova Crysta and hence comparison between the two is inevitable.

Fact Check!

Specifications Kia Carnival Toyota Innova Crysta
Engine 2.2-litre Diesel 2.4-litre Diesel
Power (bhp) 200 148
Torque (Nm) 400 343
Transmission 8AT 6AT
Price NA* Rs 15.36 Lakh

Kia Carnival Review Verdict

The Kia Carnival is an extremely luxurious MPV coming soon to the Indian market. The Carnival is offered with a host of luxury features and equipment, along with a strong performing engine as well.

The Carnival once launched in India will be the second product from the South Korean brand, after the Seltos. However, unlike the Kia Seltos, the Carnival is not aimed towards mass-volume sales, but rather making a statement which will allow the Korean car manufacturer to establish themselves as a premium brand in the Indian market.

The Kia Carnival might be a luxurious and powerful vehicle, but the MPV is best suited to be driven around. The middle-row is definitely the best place to be in, surrounded by access to all the bells and whistles the Carnival has to offer.

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