Kia Carnival

Kit from base up, in a festivus for the rest of us

DAVID BONNICI

New eight-speed auto; improved ride and handling; AEB as standard PLUS & MINUS Reworked steering still remote; bumpy ride for third-row passengers

Model Kia Carnival S

Engine 3342cc V6 (60į), dohc, 24v

Max power 206kW @ 6000rpm

Max torque 336Nm @ 5200rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic

Weight 2146kg 0-100km/h 8.2sec (estimated)

Economy 10.8L/100km

Price $42,490 On sale Now

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

WHILE it doesnít top any cool lists, anecdotal evidence suggests your motoring scribe isnít alone in harbouring a quiet admiration for the Kia Carnival. Its eight-seat interior is welcoming and its handsome exterior wouldnít look out of place in a presidential motorcade.

This mid-life update sees improvements to the Carnivalís locally tuned suspension, which included Oz-specific dampers, firmer springs and thicker antiroll bars. Handling is notably better on rural roads with little compromise to its composed ride. Despite its two-tonne heft, body roll is contained to a car-like level on bendy roads and occupants in all three rows have enough lateral support to stay in place during an enthusiastic burst.

The hydraulic power steering, which Aussie Carnivals get because the RHD conversion couldnít accommodate the electric set-up, has also been tweaked with a new pump and tighter torsion bar spring. The results arenít dramatic, though, with the steering wheel still feeling a little slack and disconnected.

A more noticeable improvement is the new eight-speed automatic transmission taken from the Stinger, which replaces the sixspeed auto previously coupled to the 3.3-litre petrol V6 and 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four. As well as extra ratios the new transmission brings quicker and smoother shifts. Throttle response is vastly improved at all speeds, particularly with the V6, which previously required you to almost stomp on the pedal in a quest for meaningful torque.

The new transmission also seamlessly keeps up with the autonomous throttle and braking of the active cruise control thatís now standard, along with AEB.

Aesthetic enhancements include a restyled nose and bumper as well as a slicker headlight configuration and revised grille that give it a closer family resemblance to the Sorento. The design of the lower tailgate panel and rear three-quarter panels have been given a subtle restyle.

The airy interior has also been refreshed, with updated instrument graphics and a less cluttered centre console. The Carnival range also gains Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and sat-nav in all but the entry-level S variant.

Carnival S and Si pricing is up $1000, with the leather-trimmed SLi and Platinum variants (which account for most private sales) jumping by $3000 and $2000 respectively. That sees prices run from $42,490 to $62,790, which still makes the Carnival a strong value proposition against similarly equipped rivals, while continuing to make it a viable, and roomier, alternative to seven-seat SUVs.

DAVID BONNICI

S is not for Spartan

The Carnival has captured 50 percent of the peoplemover segment thanks to its popularity with fleet buyers and rental firms, which buy the entry-level S variant. The S now comes standard with a city- and highway-speed AEB system, a lane-departure warning, active cruise control g, acti and an electric park brake, ar which were previously which w re p sly exclusive to the upper usi versions. The grey cloth seats ersions. The grey cloth se fe look plush and offer lounge r c chair comfort even in the en i third row.