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Kia Carnival – All you need to know about Kia’s flagship MPV

It would be a little unfair to call this a direct rival to the Toyota Innova. However, most buyers who own a Toyota Innova Crysta, are likely to graduate from the Japanese product to this: the Kia Carnival. The Carnival is bigger, has more power, and is much more luxurious too. The prices of the Carnival start at the top-of-the-line variant of the Innova. Basically, the Carnival is what a lot of Innova buyers have been on the lookout for a long time, and here it is – in all its glory.

With the Kia Cars Carnival, you can choose from different seating configurations: 7 seats, 8 seats, or 9 seats, and is sold in three variants: Premium, Prestige, and Limousine. There’s also only one engine and transmission combination on offer, and that happens to be a 2.2-litre, BS6-compliant diesel engine, paired to an 8-speed auto ‘box.

A limo it is alright

What gets you immediately is the sheer size of the thing. It’s larger than all MPVs in India and is in fact, bigger than some SUVs as well. And the size is not all we’re stressing on here; it’s the silhouette, the wide nose with the prominent grille, flanked by stylish headlights, and then you get the shapely front bumper, the cube-like fog lamps, and even a skid plate. The character line alongside adds some muscle, and the 18-inch alloy wheels give it a classy look. The Carnival uses a monocoque construction and power is sent to the front wheels.

The interior is no different

It’s pretty obvious that you will be flattered by the amount of room available on the inside. The windshield is massive, and the glasshouse gives one the feeling of an airy ambiance. Visibility out-front is great, and the dashboard gets a padded finish with chrome accents and knurled knobs – something we’ve never seen on a Korean product before. Quality, by and large, is fantastic, and the dashboard is also user-friendly. It features an 8.0-inch touchscreen system and has sufficient room and comfort at the front.

You get into the MPV through the powered sliding rear doors that can be operated via the door handles, key fob, and overhead controls. The doors do open wide, but it needs climbing into – and while the grab-handle mounted on the B-pillar does prove useful, you’ll still have to sit on the second row first with the legs, following, needing to be swiveled around. The 7-seat Carnival Limousine boasts of middle-row captain seats that get reclinable backrests and can be pushed back to increase legroom, also giving way for the leg rests to fold out. The Nappa leather upholstery seats are comfortable, and the top-of-the-line Carnival features dual 10.1-inch rear touchscreens with screen mirroring, HDMI and internet.

The third-row slides back and forth, and again, features reclinable backrests. You do sit with your knees up though, but headroom is sufficient. Space for your limbs won’t leave you complaining. In terms of equipment, it gets a whole lot of it, like three-zone climate control (with roof-mounted vents for the second and third rows), projector headlamps, keyless entry and go, power-sliding rear doors, cruise control, auto headlights, a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The drive experience

It is powered by a BS6-compliant 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that produces 197bhp and 440Nm of torque. And with a weight of 2.2 tonnes, those figures are certainly needed. The engine is something you’d like as the gradual increase in power, with speeds slowly rising, is somewhat comforting in a way. Throttle response is great, if you suddenly press down on the throttle, you’ll be surprised at how quick the 8-speed torque converter responds. For everyday driving, the Carnival copes very well; the gearbox is smooth and refinement levels are top-notch. Also, the tires do a swell job in soaking in the bad bits on the road.

The suspension setup is on the soft side, and it absorbs bumps at low speeds very well indeed. But we find that 180mm of ground clearance can turn out to be an issue when crawling over speed-breakers. But remember, with something this huge in crowded cities like ours, driving around in one of these might prove a bit tedious. The steering, however, is light and easy to steer. Also, grab the latest info on the upcoming cars, only at autoX.