Kia Carens 3 1.7

CRDi SatNav

Kia Carens, interior
Kia Carens, action
Kia Carens, rear
Kia Carens, front
Kia Carens, boot
Kia Carens, front, action
Kia Carens, rear
Kia Carens 3 1.7 CRDi SatNav
Kia Carens 3 1.7 CRDi SatNav
Kia Carens 3 1.7 CRDi SatNav
Kia Carens 3 1.7 CRDi SatNav
Kia Carens 3 1.7 CRDi SatNav

THANKFULLY, most people are not pure petrol heads - the sort of person who bores others rigid in the pub with talk of torque and understeer.

But most of us are keen to find cars that look good value - and look good too - and will give you and the family years of faithful service.

In fact, a car like the Kia I have just been trying out.

With seven seats, good economy and a warranty that could take you to 2021, the latest Carens is a car aimed squarely at the family market.

Once that meant something shaped like a tin box and about as interesting inside, and so unpleasant to drive that switching off at the end of the trip was a long anticipated joy.

How things have changed, with a host of people carriers fighting for credibility and sales in a market where spacious no longer has to be boring.

This third generation Carens is the final car in Kia's current line up to come under the styling influence of design chief Peter Schreyer and it looks about as sharp as something designed as family transport could ever hope to be.

It is available here as a seven seater only, with prices from £17,895 to £23,895, and with a second row of three individual seats, instead of the less practical split bench of the previous car.

Each seat folds flat and slides, making it easier to clamber into the rearmost duo, where anyone up to growing teenager size should be comfortable.

Kia says the boot is bigger than before and, a nice touch, the front passenger seat folds flat to allow something like a ladder to be carried without resorting to a roof rack.

There are three engines on offer, with a petrol version leading off the range. Most popular is expected to be the 114 horsepower diesel, while the same engine with a 20 horsepower boost tops the range and is the unit tested here.

Even with the extra boost it's no space rocket but it's a willing performer at the sort of speeds most families favour and with 46mpg showing on the trip computer at the end of my drive, it won't break the bank at the pumps.

Kias are good enough these days not to be priced like fruit on a market stall at 4pm, relying instead on a list of standard equipment that keeps them ahead of the pack.

So, while the car here might be priced around the level of a well kitted out Ford Grand C-MAX, it makes the car with the blue oval badge look mean when you compare what you get for your money.

The Carens in top '3' grade form enjoys touches like satellite navigation, a vast double sunroof, reversing camera, full leather upholstery and (wonderful on a chilly morning) a heated steering wheel. None of which you'll find on the Ford.

Instead, the Ford fights back with feeling better from behind the wheel. That's a mighty mark in its favour if you like driving; for those who don't, it might seem an irrelevance.

The Carens, with its overlight steering (and a button to make it lighter still in town), is never going to win sales for its driving ability, even if it goes about its business in a smooth, undramatic manner.

And that will probably count for more in the long run.

 

FAST FACTS

Kia Carens 3 1.7 CRDi SatNav

Price: £24,845

Mechanical: 134bhp, 1,685cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 10 seconds

Combined MPG: 56.4

Insurance Group: 16

C02 emissions: 132g/km

Bik rating: 18%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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