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First look: Kia's cuter Carens

Spanish debut: Kia chose the Madrid motor show to debut its new-look Carens, emphasising the strong sales performance it is looking for in Europe.

Kia's compact people-mover improves looks and interior design second time round

29 May 2002

SOUTH Korean manufacturer Kia has chosen the Madrid international motor show to reveal its restyled Carens compact people-mover to the world.

Australian sales are expected to start in the first half of 2003, with stock of the current Carens already exhausted and just 10 sold this year.

Kia has concentrated on upgrading the exterior style and interior functionality of the Carens, while leaving the mechanical package basically the same.

The platform is still shared with the Spectra small car, while local-spec Carens are expected to stick with the current 1.8-litre, 81kW, four-cylinder engine available with the choice of manual or automatic transmissions.

Pricing is also expected to stick closely to the first generation Carens' $23,990 (manual) and $25,990 (auto), ensuring it remains among the cheapest compact people-movers on the local market.

But that does not mean Kia Australia is tipping big sales, instead forecasting between 60-70 per month. In 2002 Carens averaged 58 sales per month while the segment leader, Holden Zafira, averaged 142.

Key exterior styling details of the new Carens include a trapezoidal radiator grille that links with the full-size Carnival people-mover, a re-designed tailgate and larger wheels and tyres.

Kia has also done away with the original car's awkward reversed D-pillar.

Inside, Kia is claiming increased space, while there is the choice of five-seat and six-seat layouts. Crucially, the third row in the six-seater can now be a split-fold, meaning that version can also be used as a five-seater.

There's also a new dashboard, redesigned steering wheel and new trim materials.

Standard equipment in Australia will continue to include air-conditioning, central locking, CD player and power windows.

As shown at Madrid, the Carens was equipped with dual front and side airbags, but the final specification level for Australia has yet to be determined.

The show car was also fitted with a new 2.0-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engine aimed specifically at the European market. It will not be sold in Australia and nor will a 1.6-litre petrol engine.

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