KIA’S most successful nameplate has been reignited in Australia with the launch
of the long-awaited new-generation Carnival people-mover, priced from $41,490
plus on-road costs.
The new version launched this week marks the final stage of a completely
refreshed model line-up under Hyundai/Kia’s global design chief Peter Schreyer,
and Kia Motors Australia is now working to reclaim segment leadership.
The previous model, the Grand Carnival, was on sale for nine years, racking up
31,442 sales and ruling the people-mover market for the vast majority of that
However, the ageing Kia MPV slipped to number three last year in the face of
competition from a new Honda Odyssey and the surprise success of sibling rival
Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) chief operating officer Damien Meredith told GoAuto
this week that he was confident the new Carnival – the ‘Grand’ having been
dropped from the name, returning to the moniker used for the 1999-2006
first-generation car – has what it takes to get back to the top of the segment.
“We would like to be number one,” he said. “We respect our opposition, but we
think the car is good enough from a design point of view, it’s good enough from
a pricing point of view and we certainly think it’s good enough from a historic
point of view.”
Mr Meredith was keen to emphasise the importance of the Carnival in the
“It’s our strongest nameplate. We’re very confident that we can get that number
one position in the people-mover market.”
Mr Meredith estimates the company is capable of selling between 200 and 300
Carnivals a month.
“From a volume point of view, we have to do that to get back (to number one)
and we’re pretty confident we can do that,” he said. “The supply chain is okay
at this point in time. This first five months is looking very positive.”
The new Carnival is a marked departure from the ageing visage of the old car.
Designed in Kia’s Irvine, California studio, the new model appears at first
blush to be much larger than the one it replaces. Looks can deceive, however;
the new Carnival is lower and shorter overall, and is the same width across the
The overall height of the Carnival is 55mm lower than the outgoing model at
1755mm. It is shorter in length by 15mm at 5115 mm, despite sitting on a longer
wheelbase (up 40mm to 3060mm).
The Carnival features sliding doors on both sides of the car, which are fitted
with sliding glass. Depending on vehicle grade, the tailgate is fitted with a
smart-open function. No sunroof is offered at any point in the range.
Available in four grades – the fleet-grade S, Si, SLi and top-end Platinum –
the Carnival will be offered with a choice of two engines. The R 2.2-litre CDI
four-cylinder turbo-diesel is an updated carryover from the outgoing model,
while the Lambda II 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine is new to the Carnival.
Pricing starts at $41,990 for the base S in petrol guise and tops out at
$59,990 for the diesel-powered Platinum. Opting for a diesel engine adds $2500
to the price of the petrol models.
The turbo-diesel four is good for 147kW of power at 3800rpm and 440Nm of torque
from 1750rpm to 2750rpm. Additional acoustic covers for the timing chain and
engine block act to dull diesel rattle.
Fuel economy is rated at 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres, while CO2 emissions
come in at 199 grams per kilometre – not bad considering the vehicle weighs
2150kg in this configuration.
The petrol V6, meanwhile, produces 206kW at 6000rpm and 336Nm at 5200rpm, and
is rated to return 11.6L/100km and 271g/km on the combined cycle. Its kerb
weight is 50kg less than the diesel at 2100kg.
Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The diesel
version features a shorter first gear and final ratio than the petrol, although
the fifth and sixth gear ratios are identical.
Somewhat unusually in the modern age, hydraulic steering is fitted to the
Carnival; left-hand-drive models are equipped with electrically assisted
steering, but the switch to right-hand drive necessitated the use of hydraulic
Suspension comprises MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at
the rear. Local ride and handling work resulted in new dampers, stiffer
rollbars and a unique hydraulically actuated rebound spring on the front axle.
Inside the Carnival, eight seats are fitted as standard, with a fold-down
triple third row, a removable centre seat in the second row, and ‘stand-up’
outer second-row seats. The seats pivot up from the front of their bases to
stand up flush against the backs of the front seats to maximise available cargo
Fold-down armrests are fitted to the front seats and the outside-second row
pews. The second-row centre seat also folds flat to form a central table with
cupholders and a padded armrest section.
The total cargo volume has increased over the Grand Carnival by 77 litres to
960 litres behind the third row of seats. This grows to 2220 litres behind the
second row with the third row folded flat into the floor (not out to the
sides), and 4022 litres when all rear passenger seats are stowed.
The list of standard inclusions in the entry-level S is long and includes a CD
player with MP3/USB/AUX and a colour screen, a rearview camera, rear parking
sensors, four-LED guide lights in the headlamps, heated external mirrors, power
windows front and rear, keyless entry, cruise control, tinted glass, stain- and
spill-resistant cloth seats, three 12V sockets, a rear USB charging socket, 10
cup-holders, four bottle-holders, cargo tie-downs and roof rails. It is also
fitted with 17-inch steel rims.
The Si adds alloys wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearknob, front
foglights, darker-tint privacy glass on the rear and rear-side windows, 20-LED
front positioning lamps, folding external mirrors, satellite navigation with an
eight-inch colour touchscreen, DVD player (which can only be used when the car
is stopped) and tri-zone air-conditioning.
Additional content in the SLi includes 18-inch alloys, front parking sensors,
extra trim items like a chrome grille surround, a cooled glovebox,
leather-trimmed seats, smart tailgate, powered side doors, powered driver’s
seat, push-button start and electro-chromatic rearview mirror.
Finally, the top-ranking Platinum adds 19-inch rims, sunshade blinds on the
second and third rows, HID auto-levelling headlights with high-beam assist,
two-position driver’s seat memory, powered front passenger seat, heated vented
front seats, heated second-row seats (the two outside seats, specifically),
heated steering wheel with wood inserts, blind-spot detection, lane departure
warning and radar cruise control systems.
Standard safety features across the range includes six airbags (including
full-length side curtain airbags), front seatbelt pretensioners with load
limiters, three-point seatbelts in all positions, dusk-sensing automatic
headlights, electronic stability and traction control, hill-start assist, and
ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.
As GoAuto has reported, the new Carnival does not, however, quality for a
five-star safety rating under the Australasian New Car Assessment Program
(ANCAP) due to the absence of rear seatbelt reminders – an omission that KMAu
is working to have rectified by later this year.