The new Kia Carens Diesel Estate is a very strong offering from the South Korean brand. It’s well kitted out, practical, versatile and comes with a tempting 7-year warranty.
It’s also super stylish and boasts a third row of seats.
However, Kia is no longer the price-focused brand that it once was, and there are cheaper rivals available.
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OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Kia Carens Diesel Estate review.
Overview of the Kia Carens Diesel Estate
On the Road
One of the major flaws that this car’s predecessor had was that it was hard to drive. The new Carens performs a lot better on the road. Body lean continues to be an issue in bends but insulation is good and the ride is comfortable.
The steering is more direct than last time but it still lacks feel and it’s a bit lifeless. It offers 3 settings for you to flick between, which means you can lighten it up or add more weight for when you’re on the motorway. When you lighten it up in the towns and cities, the car feels really comfortable.
The problem is that the system doesn’t enhance the driving experience. So while the Carens is better to drive than ever, it’s still not exciting.
Then again, what more can you really ask for from a seven-seater?
The electric power steering benefits from an angle and torque sensor that tries its best to minimise the impact of crosswinds. During calmer conditions, however, it’s barely noticeable.
In terms of its engines, there’s just the one diesel available. This is a 1.7-litre unit that’s offered in two separate power guises. The smallest variant develops 114bhp and has a 0-62 time of 12.6 seconds. The bigger variant, meanwhile, develops 139bhp and has a 0-62 time of 11.6 seconds.
Stop-start is standard on both versions unless you opt for the automatic transmission and plump for trims 2 or 4 – which we think is a bit odd.
Kia Carens Diesel Estate Interior, Design and Build
The outgoing Carens was lacking in cabin quality, something which the new model has addressed. There are now plusher materials on display and overall the Carens compares very favourably with its rivals. That’s something we couldn’t say last time.
The dashboard, for example, sports some lovely soft-touch materials and feels and looks very high quality. Look around and you’ll spot one or two harder plastics, but you’ll also be surprised at the amount of cash Kia have spent inside here. For instance, the perforated artificial leather finish on the door inners is just sumptuous.
Buyers can choose from a pair of cabin colour schemes, and you can also specify black headlining if you wish.
Meanwhile, Kia have saved on space by replacing the traditional handbrake with automatic hill-hold and an electronic button.
Comfort levels are high and the car does a good job of smoothing out poorer surfaces. Insulation is good for the most part too, although some diesel clatter can be intrusive.
Is the Kia Carens Diesel Estate practical? The steering wheel is height and reach adjustable, seven seats are standard, and despite this being a shorter car than last time, there’s actually more space available inside. This is thanks to its longer wheelbase.
Moreover, its compact dimensions mean that it’s fairly easy to park.
The second row boasts three individual seats that slide and fold separately from one another, but while there is a third row it’s really for kids only. Headroom and legroom is good for everyone, though.
Storage solutions are good and include a huge centre cubby located between the driver and their passenger, while the glovebox is of a satisfactory size.
The boot, meanwhile, measures just 100-litres when all the seats are in use. When just five seats are in use, it measures 492-litres and comes with a false floor.
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Equipment and Safety of the Kia Carens Diesel Estate
Kia have kept things simple with their trims, naming them 1,2,3 and 4. The entry-level 1 trim comes with 16” steel wheels, cloth seats, cruise control, air conditioning and 7 seats.
The 2 trim adds alloys, reversing sensors, woven cloth seats, rain-sensing front wipers and automatic headlight controls, while the 3 trim nets you 17” alloys, leather seats, a 10-way adjustable driver’s seat and heated front seats and steering wheel.
The 4 model rounds things off with sat-nav, front fog lights and roof rails.
In terms of how safe the car is, the Carens was awarded all 5 stars for its crash test performance by Euro NCAP. Its standard safety kit includes an alarm and immobiliser, ISOFIX child seat mounts, hill-start assistance, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control.
Costs of the Kia Carens Diesel Estate
Prices for the new car start out from £18,250 and rise to £29,810. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, there’s not much at all to choose between the two variants of the same diesel engine. Both the 114 and 139bhp variant manage returns of 62.8mpg economy at best if you stick to the manual gearbox. Adding the automatic ‘box to the 139bhp engine changes its economy to 58.9mpg.
Meanwhile, the 114bhp variant emits 116g/km of CO2 as standard. If you specify the Eco Pack, that number drops to just 109g/km.
Pros and Cons of the Kia Carens Diesel Estate
For a seven-seater MPV, it looks great.
Only children will be able to sit in the third row, but if you’re happy with that, space is good for all.
Longer family outings will be made more bearable by the top-notch ride quality.
Not much fun
It’s easy to drive but lacks practicality.
Lack of image
Kia’s are more sophisticated than ever but the brand still has an image problem.
Kia Carens Diesel Estate vs Renault Grand Scenic vs Vauxhall Zafira Tourer
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Kia Carens Diesel Estate review.
Kia Carens Diesel Estate vs Renault Grand Scenic
The new Renault Grand Scenic is a handsome, practical and roomy family car that’s expensive to buy but affordable to run.
On the road, the Grand Scenic is better to drive than you’d expect. It’s competent and surefooted, with the only real issues being excess body lean in bends and a loud diesel engine.
That said, some buyers will also be wishing Renault were offering the car with an alternative to the gigantic 20” alloys. As it is, you’re stuck with them – and they can negatively impact ride quality.
Engine-wise, the dCi 110 diesel is powered by a 1.5-litre engine, while both the dCi 130 and 160 models are powered by a 1.6-litre engine. The smaller model develops 128bhp, while the bigger model develops 158bhp.
In terms of the numbers, the dCi 110 can get you from rest to 62mph in 12.4 seconds, the dCi 130 covers the same distance in 11.4 seconds, and the dCi 160 does it in 10.7 seconds. It’s worth pointing out that the latter is the only model in the range that can’t be specified with a manual ‘box.
Running costs? The dCi 110 is good for returns of 70.6mpg on a good day and emits just 104g/km of CO2. That’s impressive. The dCi 130 model, meanwhile, emits 119g/km, while the dCi 160 model emits 122g/km and returns 60mpg at best – not bad, eh?
Inside, the Grand Scenic looks and feels rather upmarket. It boasts seven seats and is nothing more than a workhorse people car, but the designer – Laurens Van Den Acker – is so proud of the way this car looks that he says it will “make people fall in love” with people carriers again.
The smart design is easy on the eye and all models are well kitted out, with the likes of a Bose sound system and electric memory leather seats standard on most models.
On the other hand, the dark plastics are a tad off-putting.
Is the Renault Grand Scenic practical? Its vast interior is a huge selling point, there’s plenty of room for children and adults alike, and storage spaces are here, there and everywhere.
The second row of seats easily slide back and forth, while the third row can even fold into the boot floor.
The boot itself measures 596-litres when you fold the third row, although with all seven seats up it’s a bit measly – just like the Kia.
Kia – £18,250 – £29,810
Renault – £23,505 – £32,605
Kia Carens Diesel Estate vs Vauxhall Zafira Tourer
The new Vauxhall Zafira Tourer is a handsome seven-seater MPV that’s safe and okay to drive.
We say “okay” to drive because while it’s hardly going to excite you, it’s easy enough to drive – and sometimes that’s all that matters. It handles well, its suspension setup is comfortable for the most part and its engines are good performers.
The car does get a bit bouncier on B-roads but the steering remains precise and the cabin is well insulated.
In terms of its engines, there are two diesels on offer. A 1.6-litre engine sits at the bottom of the range. It’s strong, smooth and can cover the 0-62 sprint in 10.4 seconds.
Next up is a 2.0-litre diesel unit that develops 168bhp. It’s got more grunt than the 1.6-litre engine, has a 0-62 time of 9.1 seconds and copes well with the car on a full load.
Running costs? The smaller engine is naturally the cheapest to run and it can return as much as 62.8mpg on a good day while emitting 119g/km of CO2. That qualifies it for a BiK rating of 28%.
The bigger diesel, meanwhile, is good for over 56mpg and emits 129g/km of CO2. If you’ll be travelling long distances often, it’s the one we’d recommend.
Inside, the Zafira is roomy, comfortable and a much better place to spend your time than last time around. The dashboard contains fewer buttons, a facelift has made the cabin more presentable, and the overall look and feel is modern and clean.
Standard kit is good across the range too, with all models coming with a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Is the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer practical? It’s very versatile and flexible – for example, its seats can fold flat in a few seconds.
It’s a big, spacious car, and while that means lots of interior room, it also often means that a car like this is hard to park. However, Vauxhall have fitted all models with parking sensors, and these will prove useful.
The second row of seats slide back and forth with ease, the rear doors are nice and large, but the car would have benefited from more storage solutions.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 710-litres when the third row of seats are folded.
Vauxhall – £20,200 – £31,165
Verdict of our 2018 Kia Carens Diesel Estate Review
Kia might still be a low-key brand, which in some ways makes this a low-key option, but that shouldn’t put you off. The Carens is a very astute car, something that’s reflected in its relatively high price. It’s got room for seven people but still looks good, and it’s comfortable and modern. All in all the Kia Carens Diesel Estate is a more-than-acceptable large family car.