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New Carens brings a ray of sunshine 

 

May was just days away when I had to thank Kia for providing me with my first day of summer sun in the UK this year.

A high of 21 degrees might not appear to be a lot to rave about if you are living in sunny Tenerife but it felt quite nice against a cold 9 degrees the previous day in Glasgow.

Kia chose a Hampshire base to let us drive its all-new Carens – and this latest compact MPV didn’t fail to shine either.

It’s the final notch in design director Peter Schreyer’s complete regeneration of the Kia range and one of his most stylish.

Some MPVs are all about stacking bodies or luggage in, with a few ugly ducklings already on the road.

But not so for this third-generation Carens which definitely scores on looks – as well as being as spacious and flexible as the opposition.

Only seven-seater models are coming to the UK with some other European countries getting a five-seater option.

The three individual centre-row sliding seats will accommodate three average-sized adults with children better suited to the two rear seats.

These all fold flat – even the front passenger seat – which takes the luggage capacity from 492 litres up to 1,650 litres.

Carens is available in Kia’s three trim levels – 1, 2 and 3 – with a choice of three engines, 1.6-litre 133bhp petrol or 1.7-litre turbo-diesel units, offering 114bhp and 134bhp, with manual or automatic transmissions.

The engines are all highly efficient and economical with low CO2 emissions. The petrol version is capable of 44.1mpg combined and the bigger diesel engine 56.5mpg

Pick of the bunch is the £19,195 priced ‘2’ 1.7 CRDi 114bhp which Kia says will be the best seller in the UK and its combined fuel economy figure is a superb 60.1mpg, a whopping 68.9mpg extra urban and 48.7mpg urban.

I enjoyed a long drive through the countryside with the six-speed manual gearbox proving to be slick going up and down the gears.

There is plenty of power in this engine for overtaking when required and it was quiet and smooth throughout my drive.

I found that ride and handling were excellent for this type of vehicle, going over uneven surfaces with no signs of shaking or rattling and taking bends as quickly as you would want to in a MPV.

The stylish exterior looks are matched inside by a roomy interior which gets a much better quality finish.

Standard spec is also plentiful and on trim 1 includes LED daytime running lamps, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, driver’s seat height adjustment and tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, air conditioning, rear air ventilation, steering wheel-mounted controls, front and rear electric windows, cruise control with a speed limiter, a six-speaker RDS radio/CD player with iPod connectivity, MP3 compatibility and Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming.

Step up to trim 2 and additional items include 16-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, chrome window trim, fog lights, roof rails, automatic headlight control, rain-sensing front wipers, electrically folding door mirrors with LED indicators and kerbside lamps, dual-zone air conditioning, a luggage net, a portable LED luggage light and reversing sensors.

A panoramic sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, 10-way driver’s seat adjustment, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, second-row sun blinds and LED reading lights, and a colour reversing camera are some of  the standard items in the top-grade 3 model.

On top of all that, remember that all models come with Kia’s seven years or 100,000 miles warranty.

Carens went on sale on May 1 in the UK with prices ranging from £17,895 to £23,895.