THE styling of Kia’s car range has been transformed since they acquired one of the world’s top automobile designers and the stylish Carens MPV is the latest vehicle to be influenced and transformed by Peter Schreyer writes Bryan Longworth.
Before deciding to join the South Korean motor manufacturer Schreyer had been the chief designer at Audi whose premium range of cars is acknowledged as being one of the best in the world so Kia pulled off a major coup by signing him on.
And the third generation family friendly Carens benefits tremendously from Schreyer’s influence because it has been transformed from being a bland and unremarkable MPV into a very stylish seven seater with bags of street appeal that should really help to boost Kia’s soaring sales in the UK in particular.
The latest Carens which has a seven year warranty looks best at the front with Kia’s new face but it also has well balanced styling overall especially at the rear where some MPV designers do not seem to consider as important as the front.
Carens comes in three trim levels and my test car was the Carens 1.7 CRDi 2 Eco with the 1.7 diesel engine six speed manual gearbox and a top speed of 112mph zero to 60mph time of 12.6 seconds CO2 emissions of 124g/km and costing £20,595.
The trim level on the 2 mid spec car which is likely to be the most popular model is quite good and includes 16 inch alloy wheels, fog lights, roof rails, electrically folding door mirrors with LED indicators and kerbside lamps plus dual zone air conditioning, reversing sensors and portable LED luggage light.
Also standard on all models are projection headlights with cornering lamps which provide a really good spread of light that I found especially useful on unlit bendy roads especially.
This Carens has a roomy and very comfortable cabin with two good sized seats in the third row which fold flat individually for additional storage space and this means that the car can be a seven six five or two seater which adds to its versatility.
The steering has a nice precise feel about it and the steering wheel is fully adjustable for all angles to provide a tailor made and commanding driving position which I appreciated and the handling qualities made this one of the most enjoyable and fun to drive MPVs I have tested.
There is a very user friendly interior with controls and instruments being sensibly sited especially the speedometer which is so easy to see in all light conditions unlike those in some other cars.
It is easy to see why the latest version of the Carens will have big appeal to family owners in particular because it is such a good vehicle in every way for family transport and the kids will love the roomy and comfortable interior with its numerous stowage spaces.
There is no doubt how the style and design of Kia cars has progressed and improved since Peter Schreyer joined the South Korean company and the latest Carens is a perfect example of how a rather dull MPV has been transformed into a vehicle with big appeal in the MPV sector.
My Verdict: Carens now has real style.
Model: Kia Carens 2 1.7 CRDi.
Engine: 1.7-litre diesel.
Output: 114bhp @ 4000rpm.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 112mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 60mph 12.6 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 60.1mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 124g/km.
Price: £20,595 on the road.