1 Sep 1999
By CHRIS HARRIS
KIA hit the big time literally and metaphorically with the Carnival, a large seven-seater people mover.
The South Koreans based it on the front-wheel drive Credos mid-sized sedan – itself a re-bodied version of the 1992-1997 Mazda 626.
Space and power at a low-$30,000 price proved to be the Carnival’s big drawcards, aided by a seven-seat layout with sliding side doors that allows for walk-through access front to rear and a versatile seating layout.
The base LS was the most popular, and included a driver’s side airbag, dual-zone air-conditioning, central locking, front power windows, power steering and cloth trim. The better-specified LE included leather and other niceties.
Rover in the UK supplied the engine – a 132kW/220Nm 2.5-litre quad-cam 24-valve V6 mated to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox.
Sales surged as the Kia undercut its Japanese and American rivals by over $10,000, despite lukewarm reviews about overall quality and durability questions. The latter were confirmed not long after with reports of engine failures among other reliability issues.