Kia Carens 1 1.6 GDI

Kia Carens, front
Kia Carens, rear
Kia Carens, action
Kia Carens, interior
Kia Carens, boot
Kia Carens, side, action
Kia Carens, front, action
Kia Carens, rear
Kia Carens, front
Kia Carens, front, action
Kia Carens, side
Kia Carens, rear, action
Kia Carens, interior
Kia Carens, rear seats
Kia Carens, boot

FLEXIBILITY is the name of the games where MPVs are concerned and, in that respect, the latest Kia Carens gets top marks.

The third generation Carens proves that you don't need to have a full size people mover to accommodate seven people in comfort and space to carry just about anything.

The new look model is more streamlined and far more shapely than its predecessors, thanks partly to a sharply slopping bonnet and Kia's signature tiger-nose grille.

Shorter, lower and narrower than the model it replaces the new Carens certainly looks smaller and more car-like. But appearances can be deceptive and this newcomer is very much a Tardis-like vehicle which is larger on the inside than it appears on the outside.

The seven-seater vehicle comes with three rows of seats in a 2-3-2 configuration.

Each of the middle row seats can be slid backwards or forwards independently so you can create more legroom or more luggage space, depending upon your needs. The backs can also be reclined.

There are two seats in the rear and with either of the two middle row outer seats slid forwards it's reasonably easy to get into the back, although if you are over 6ft you may struggle a little.

In fairness the two rear seats will probably be used infrequently by most owners but are very useful to be able to call on when needs must. With them in position there is only a tiny amount of luggage space beneath the rear tailgate, but they can be collapsed into the floor in one simple action creating an impressive luggage area.

A roller blind style luggage cover sits neatly out of sight in a covered well in the floor and can be brought into use when the rear seats are folded away, to stop prying eyes seeing what is in the "boot".

If you need to carry large loads all but the front two seats can be folded down to give a van-like capacity and totally flat floor. And usefully the front passenger seat backrest will fold flat so you can accommodate items more than 8ft in length.

This was the entry level model "1", but still came with an abundance of storage compartments, including two under floor ones in the rear.

From the driver's seat you look out through a deeply sloping windscreen at the end of a very deep dashboard. But the elevated position and abundance of glass - there are even small windows in windscreen pillars - give good all round vision.

On the road the 1.6-litre petrol engine is well up to the job even with five people on board, and the six-speed manual gearbox is so smooth it's a joy to use.

There is some body roll on corners but the well appointed front seats with good side bolsters do a good job of holding you firmly in place.

One unusual feature on the Carens is Flex Steer, which allows the driver, via a steering wheel mounted button, to set the weight of the power steering, with the choice of Normal, Comfort or Sport.

Build quality on the Carens is excellent. The doors close with the minimum of effort and the cabin is impressively quiet, ensuring relaxed motoring.

The Carens has come a long way in three generations and of course the company still offers its class leading seven year warranty. There's confidence for you.

FAST FACTS

Kia Carens 1 1.6 GDI

Price: £17,895

Mechanical: 133bhp, 1,591cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 115mph

0-62mph: 10.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 44.1

Insurance Group: 149g/km

C02 emissions: 21%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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