2020 Kia Carnival Review, First Drive

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Surprisingly, its the MPV and SUV segment that is currently growing in India. Our country has been limited to good options such as the Toyota Qualis and the successor was the popular Innova and now that has been replaced with Crysta. Something, again, that is a big success. The Ertiga, Mobilio and Marrazzo did give it a good competition, but it wasn’t enough. Not just by the market sales, but in many other ways too. However, Kia, thinks it can do that in style. Carnival is a van on the face of it but it wants to offer Innova and plus more.

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It wants to aim even higher and challenge the Mercedes V-Class and upcoming Vellfire as well. This is a big bet for Kia. If the pricing is right, we can expect Carnival to host a carnival in the market and probably every competitor will be lost in that carnival. However, the first important question is how good of a Kia it is? It is a world renowned product. After giving India, the locally made Seltos, will the legacy product from Kia work in India? We find out!

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The side and rear profile is so well polished, done and layed out, that, at first glance, for a couple of time, i was confusing this for a Lexus quite often before the bell rang in my head to remind me Kia has invited to me to drive this, not Lexus! Front is quintessential Kia motor car with the tiger nose grille which is actually the best subtle grille in the Indian market now. Everyone is just increasing the size and not playing with their minds, much. The interesting ice-cube inspired foglamps, the modern looking headlamp cluster and very chunky LED tail-lamps make the Kia stand out. As if that wasn’t enough. Limousine variant gets 18-inch wheels which are totally chrome and give more bling to the vehicle.

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Interior quality is exceptional for this segment. It is two levels above the Seltos which is already great news. This is outright better than Innova, that too by a tremendous margin. Space in all rows is excellent. Our test car was Limousine variant so we had the 7-seater layout. Given the fact that this car can seat 9 people, we believe its possible because the seating position is spot on when it comes to the layout of them. However, the most important part is the second row of seating which is the VIP caption seats which are adjustable in every way and make things stupendously comfortable for two people behind the first row.

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The Prestige Trim naturally offers all the features of Premium trim along with several additions. Prestige line offers Electronic Stability Control with Hill Assist Control, Roll-over Mitigation and Cornering Brake Control, Side and Curtain Airbags and Front Parking Sensors. Exterior changes include Front Grille with Chrome inserts, LED Projection Headlamps with LED Position Lamps, Ice Cube Shape LED Fog Lamps, LED Rear Combination Lamps, Roof Rails, Chrome Surround on window, Smart Power Tailgate, UV Cut front door glass and windshield and 220V Laptop Charger and USB Charger. The Dual Panel Electric Sunroofs with all Interior LED lights, Sunshade Curtains, Electric Folding Outside mirror, Chrome inside Door handles, Pop up sinking seats, sliding seats and much more. The Prestige trim will be available in 7 seater and very practical 9(6 captain + 3 sinking) seat options.

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Limousine Trim This is the top-of-the-line Carnival and will include all the features available in the Premium and Prestige trims. Carnival Limousine trim is available as a 7-seater option and has 2nd Row Luxury VIP Seats with Leg Support, Premium Nappa Leather Seat Upholstery, Leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, Premium Wood Garnish, R18”Sputtering Finish Alloy Wheels and High Line Tyre Pressure Monitoring System.

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The Touchscreen Audio with In-built Navigation and UVO Connected Car (3 Year Free), Harman/Kardon Premium 8 Speaker Sound System and 10.1” Dual Touchscreen Rear Seat Entertainment System. Limousine trim gets Smart Pure Air Purifier with perfume diffuser, Electronic Parking Brake, 10-way Power Driver Seat, Driver Seat Ventilation, Front Console Wireless Smartphone Charger and Auto Anti-glare inside Rear View Mirror (ECM) with UVO Controls and Smartwatch connectivity. Clearly, the interior is loaded to the gills and there is nothing missed. However, ventilated seats for VIP seats would have been ideal.

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Driving the MPV was quite an simple affair. The engine and gearbox were very smooth and refined. NVH level inside the cabin was good enough apart from engine noise which was a bit high in our new car and without music, we could hear the engine. Post 2000 kms everything should be even better. Upshifts and downshifts were almost quick but the amount of low-end torque on offer with the 8-speed automatic gearbox is astounding. The 200 PS and 440 Nm of torque makes it sound like a true luxury car. The gearbox was seamless and RWD means power is going through the right set of wheels to make it more fun and easy to drive in all conditions and to pick up a lot of load. ARAI claims 14 km/l with the MPV.

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Overall feel was that of a car that is easy to live with, almost and the luxury quotient was high thanks to a very good ride quality. Over the worst surfaces, there was very minimum disturbance inside the cabin. Body roll does exists, but well controlled. The stability though thanks to weight and that big wheelbase was segment best indeed. Steering felt a bit heavy but that is something getting used to. Brakes and tyres did a good job of inspiring confidence. Steering feel and feedback was good enough but it was precise enough to every single input.

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2020 Kia Carnival Review, Verdict

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On paper, the Carnival is a KIA product. it has everything you would ever need when it comes to performance, premium-ness, space, luxury and most importantly reliability and feature list. Kia will offer a whole host of programs with this along with a promised price tag which should start between Rs. 25-30 lakhs and go till Rs. 35 lakhs. We cannot say if these prices are going to be ex-showroom on or on-road. However, what we can say is that the pricing will make this car very attractive to its audience. Be it premium MPV car buying fleet operators to people who want to do weekend drives with their large families. Discreet set of customers are guaranteed. Given its past record and future discussed with Kia officials, we have surprise waiting for us.

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