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Grander Carnival: Grand Carnival offers seating for eight.

Kia adopts a dual people-mover strategy with old and new (Grand) Carnival models

13 Jan 2006

KIA Automotive Australia will hold on to the value-for-money Carnival people-mover despite the arrival of the bigger, newer, more powerful and more expensive Grand Carnival V6 model.

The now-outdated Carnival 2.5-litre V6 will continue to be part of the Kia line-up beyond March 1, when Ateco Automotive hands over Australian distribution for Kia vehicles to a factory-backed operation.

The Carnival has been a huge success for Ateco, snaring a 28 per cent share of the people-mover market last year, based on its competitive $29,990 price point, relatively high equipment level and seven-seat capacity.

An Ateco spokesman said there was still room – figuratively speaking – for the Carnival alongside the new-generation Grand Carnival because each were distinct vehicles, one being a bigger eight-seater and the other a seven-seater, as well as having two distinct engine/transmission combinations.

"In every dimension it really sits in a class above the Carnival," he said.

As well as the extra seat and interior room, the Grand Carnival ups the stakes by offering a more powerful 184kW/343Nm 3.8-litre V6 engine paired with a new five-speed automatic gearbox with pseudo-manual mode.

It also offers improved equipment levels and, Kia claims, better quality - all with a starting price of $36,990.

17 center imageVisually, there is no mistaking that the Grand Carnival is a people-mover but the overall styling is crisp and harmonious with a sharply sloping bonnet, large glass area and roomy cabin.

At 5130mm long, the Grand Carnival is 205mm longer than the Carnival and 85mm wider. It has a 3020mm wheelbase and is 1815mm high including roof rails.

The bigger V6 delivers a 0-100km/h sprint of 10.5 seconds, with Ateco claiming the Grand Carnival is more than a match for some of the upper-market people-mover rivals such as the Chrysler Grand Voyager, Volkswagen Multivan and Mercedes-Benz Viano.

Despite being bigger in every respect than the Carnival, the Grand Carnival’s turning circle is smaller – 12.1m versus 13.0m – as a result of a new speed-sensitive steering system and steering rack.

Standard features include a flat-folding third row, cruise control, ABS brakes, tri-zone air-conditioning, central locking, electric (and heated) exterior mirrors, a six-speaker CD stereo, folding tables in the seatbacks, an 80-litre fuel tank and dual front airbags.

Side and curtain airbags are optional at $1500 in a pack that also includes rain-sensing windscreen wipers, fake wood trim and a leather-clad steering wheel. Metallic and mica paint is a further $250.

The air-conditioning system allows front seat and rear seat occupants to independently set temperatures and fan speeds.

The spare tyre is a centrally mounted spacesaver spare, allowing for a deep boot area with all eight seats in place.

Dynamically, the Grand Carnival gets a MacPherson strut front suspension with rear multi-link system that is claimed to offer more passenger comfort, better on-road response and enhanced safety.

The front suspension features a hydro-formed subframe designed to better isolate noise and vibration as well as offer better crash absorption characteristics.

Last year the market-leading Carnival was Kia’s third-best-selling vehicle in its line-up behind the Rio and Cerato. The Korean manufacturer sold 4434 Carnivals in 2005.

Kia is the fourth brand Ateco has handed to factory-backed operations, following Volkswagen, Audi and Suzuki. It has been distributing Kia vehicles here since 2000.

With Kia gone, Ateco still imports Alfa Romeo, Citroen and Fiat vehicles, and has recently become responsible for Ferrari and Maserati. In recent months, the company has been actively seeking to fill the gap left by Kia by looking to import Chinese-built commercial and low-cost passenger cars.

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