Being the leader of a samba band (AKSamba), driving a car called a Carnival is very coincidental. In fact, the Carnival is so large I could take along seven more of the 50 band members to a gig, and fit some instruments in the back. Or some dancing girls in feathers and bikinis
When you’re loaded down with drums and dancing girls the electrically opening side doors and tailgate are a real help. I thought these would be a useless gimmick, but I used them a lot and not just times that included impressing friends. While walking back to the car I used the remote to open whichever door I needed and it’s ready for me to put things in by the time I arrived to the car. Then I pressed another button and the door closed while I got in the car, put the seat belt on and started it up. I never thought I’d relish laziness so much.
I also never thought I’d say this about a Kia, but the 3.8-litre V6 engine sounds fantastic and has 182kW and 343Nm – plenty of power to pull even the most amply built musicians. This is transferred to the front wheels via a five-speed automatic gearbox with sequential sports shift. Kia quotes 12.8l/100km fuel economy for the combined cycle and 302g CO2/km.
The driving position is commanding. An eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat offers a comfy position, but not much lateral support. All eight seats get leather and are bathed in sound from an eight-speaker Infinity sound system connected to the six-stacker CD/MP3/radio unit. This, along with cruise control, can be controlled from the steering wheel.
Above the rear view mirror is a trip computer which features a compass, average fuel economy, and kilometres before you need to fill it up again. Above that is a fold down mirror that allows you to keep an eye on everyone in the back, and the buttons for the electric doors, tailgate and sunroof. Even the rear quarter-lights are electric, controlled via switches on the armrest.
The Carnival’s exterior styling is a tad bland compared to some other MPVs (e.g. Citroen’s Picasso – read the review here), but the engine’s responsiveness and power more than makes up for that. Its shape reminds me of the first Renault Espace that defined the MPV segment back in 1984.
It served us very well in our three-day test, picking up new team member Ben from the airport in rush hour, delivering a Classic Car subscription prize (a huge roll of garage flooring) to Whangaparaoa, and driving around town gathering trophies, lecterns and other bits and bobs for this weekend’s NZ Drift Series at Manfeild.
The Carnival fits a mammoth 912 litres of storage, and that’s because it’s a large car. At 5.13m long and almost 2m wide check your garage first! The seating configuration is versatile with the third row being able to be folded into a rear cavity to create a flat floor, and the second row can be removed completely forming a space of almost van-like proportions.
Stopping all two tonnes of the Carnival is accomplished with hydraulic vacuum power-assisted ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESP). Ventilated disks at the front and solid discs at the back do their best and the Carnival Ltd’s 235/60R17 tyres (on 17-inch mags) seem to haul the Kia up fairly smartly. These tyres can’t cope with quick changes of direction, though, the main gripe of the Carnival being early understeer (mental note: drive slower around corners).
Lots of thought has gone into making the Carnival very family-friendly. The electronic doors are a real asset to those enduring a large tribe of kids, and short people who may struggle to reach the Carnival’s tall tailgate. The tri-zone climate control is helpful for carsick children who tend to want a very specific temperature in the back. The vents come from the roof and under the seat and can be varied altered using the roof mounted control behind the passenger seat. Pop-up trays in the rear and independent reclining/sliding second-row seats add to the versatility. There’s even a fold-up expandable table in between the driver and passenger with a further four cup holders. That makes 15 cup/bottle holders in total (I think — I counted three times). And that’s not all the internal storage as there are large bins and a glovebox in the front.
If I had five kids and a dog (no, that’s not my name for a ‘significant other’), I would definitely be looking at the Carnival as a comfortable and convenient way of transporting them to and from the various activities that kids do these days. Including band practice in their feathers and bikinis.
Click through to the next page for full specifications on the Kia Carnival.
Price: from $49,950 (EX is $43,550)
What we like
- Access via sliding electric doors
- V6 power
- Warranty — 5 years, 100,000km
What we don’t like
- Looks bland compared to, e.g. Citroen Picasso
- No external audio connection (e.g. iPod)
Engine 3.8-litre V6
Displacement (cc) 3778
Maximum power 182 kW / 6000 rpm
Maximum torque 343 Nm / 3500 rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic with sequential sports shift
Front MacPherson strut with coil springs and anti-roll bar
Rear Multi link with coil spring
Power rack & pinion
Front Ventilated disc
Rear Solid disc
Braking system Hydraulic vacuum power-assisted ABS brakes with EBD and ESP
Electronic stability program
Keyless entry with burglar alarm
Dual front and side curtain airbags
Driver and passenger seatbelt pretensioner and load limiter
Front seat belt height adjuster
Back-up warning system
Electronic folding heated outside mirrors
ISO fix child seat anchors
Energy absorbing steering column
Electronic door over-ride systems (3)
8 passenger seating
Removable second row seats, and sinking type third row seats
Front and rear height adjustable with front tilt adjustable head rests
Leather seats, steering wheel and gear shift trim
Metal insert film on centre fascia, door switch panel, and sliding door waistline
Power driver’s seat (8 way)
Overhead console including map lamps and conversation mirror
Alloy wheels (space saver spare) 235/60 R17
Roof rack (without crossbar)
High mounted stop lamp
Front fog lamps
Rear wiper and washer with intermittent function
Front variable intermittent front wipers with time adjuster and rain sensor
Glass type antenna
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
Dual power sliding side doors
Radio + cassette + 6 stacker CD + MP3 + 8 Infinity speakers
Audio remote control on steering wheel
Electric chromatic rear view mirror
Trip computer with compass
Tilt adjustable steering column
Front and sliding door power windows with driver’s side auto up down
Power quarter glass
Tri-zone air conditioning
Electric rear window defroster with timer
Front passenger folding table
Front and rear seat back tables
Front row height adjustable arm rest
Front and rear power outlets
Front and rear room lamps, cargo room lamps and courtesy step lamps
Driver & passenger sun visors with illuminated vanity mirror
High visibility instrument cluster
Overall length (mm) 5,130
Overall width (mm) 1,985
Overall height (mm) 1,830
Wheelbase (mm) 3,020
Minimum ground clearance (mm) 167
Kerb weight min. / max. (kg) 2,009 / 2,141
Minimum turning radius (m) 12.1
Fuel tank capacity (litres) 80
Cargo area (litres) 912
Gross vehicle weight 2,780
Words and photos Darren Cottingham