If three’s company then eight is definitely a party. The newly launched Kia Grand Carnival is the MPV with the most as it seats eight people comfortably.
And what’s even more enticing is the price of these people movers staring from as low as RM153,888 for the entry level 2.2D variant while the mid-level 2.2 CRDI KX is priced at RM169,888 and the high-specced 2.2 CRDI EX at RM185,888. (All prices are on-the-road with insurance).
Not only that, the MPV boasts enough horses and twist for a smooth and effortless driving experience as we recently drove the new Grand Carnival from Kuala Lumpur to Bentong, Pahang and finally, taking the road-less-taken through very narrow, windy hill roads to Janda Baik.
This was a drive event organised for the members of the media and we were paired four to a car. The cars available for this drive was the mid-level KX and range-topping EX.
All the variants of the new Grand Carnival is fitted with the 2.2-litre CRDi turbodiesel four-cylinder engine which outputs 193PS at 3,800rpm and 440Nm of torque at 1,750 to 2,750rpm. And it is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment includes projector halogen headlamps and LED daytime running lights (DRLs), front and rear fog lamps, LED-type rear combination lamps, electric-folding side mirrors and LED indicators, a 3.5-inch Supervision TFT-mono OLED instrument cluster, 4.3-inch TFT colour touchscreen entertainment system and a six-speaker audio system with USB and AUX-in connectivity.
And there’s plenty of safety equipment across the board as well such as six airbags, front and rear parking sensors, electronic stability control, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and hill assist control.
The KX and EX variants come with rear-view camera, power sliding doors, keyless operation with push-start and the EX gets the additional powered tailgate.
The noticeable differences between the KX and EX externally is quite minute as the EX gets a roof rack and chrome accents around the grille. Inside, the EX features a beige leather wrap interior in two-tone colours while the KX still maintains the two-tone but uses fabric instead.
The KX gets manual air-conditioning while the EX has a triple-zone automatic climate control but staying cool isn’t going to be a problem for your passengers as all three rows has its own air-cond vents.
The seating configuration offers a lot of options as the second-row seats can be folded in a 40:20:40 split and the middle seat can be removed completely if you only want seats for two passengers. Be aware though, the middle seat weighs up to 20kg.
The third row seats can be folded flat in a 50:50 split to accommodate more cargo.
The new Grand Carnival already has an impressive 359 litres of boot space with all the seats up and with the seats folded, offers a massive 2,718 litres of space.
Everybody took turns driving the new Grand Carnival to the designated destinations. We first got on a KX variant and used the DUKE highway to get out of the city and unto the Karak highway for our first stop at Chamang Waterfalls in Bentong.
During this route, I was riding shotgun and was impressed with the quietness of the cabin and the very comfortable ride.
Remember, the Carnival is a diesel engine but you don’t get a hint of that while you’re inside. The noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels were very low offering a smooth and relaxed environment.
The power sliding doors is a real treat in an MPV as it is really easy to get in and out of the car. And the Grand Carnival is a wide car at 1,985mm so you can park in tight spaces and still get out easily as the doors don’t swing out.
Getting into the third row is also easy as the second row seats don’t fold as most cars do but instead straightens upright which gives a wider opening to get to the back.
After the break at Chamang, we changed cars to an EX this time and I was behind the wheel.
Even though its a big car, it doesn’t drive like one as the steering makes it feel like you’re driving a smaller vehicle.
I was impressed with the Grand Carnival’s ease going uphill and hardly noticed the car struggling on the highway. And the same can be said when we got into the hill roads.
I found it really easy to manoeuvre this MPV along such roads. You have to keep in mind that the Grand Carnival is built for comfort, making it pliant and it does absorb a lot of the harshness on the road.
So if you’re going fast around the bends and corners, you are going to notice the body roll.
And that’s totally acceptable for an MPV which is meant to ferry your family around. It’s meant to be driven calmly and its very enjoyable when you take it nice and easy.
For the trip back, I sat in the second row seat and the car has so much leg and headroom, even for third row passengers. It has a wheel base of 3,060mm, so space (or the lack of it) is not an issue.
It was very relaxing seating at the second-row and the only complaint, which is very minor and hardly a deal-breaker, is the arm rest is on the left because it sits three people.
I really enjoyed driving and being driven in the Grand Carnival. It has the practicality and power for a people mover and for the price, offers a lot of value when you need space, comfort and convenience.
Kia Grand Carnival
Engine: 2,199cc, CRDi turbodiesel four-cylinder
Maximum Output: 193PS at 3,800rpm
Maximum Torque: 440Nm from 1,750rpm to 2,750rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
KX and EX Standard Features: Projector halogen headlamps and LED daytime running lights (DRLs), front and rear fog lamps, LED-type rear combination lamps, electric-folding side mirrors and LED indicators, a 3.5-inch Supervision TFT-mono OLED instrument cluster, 4.3-inch TFT colour touchscreen entertainment system and a six-speaker audio system with USB and AUX-in connectivity, six airbags, front and rear parking sensors, electronic stability control, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and hill assist control, rear-view camera, power sliding doors, keyless operation with push-start, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, foot parking brake and auto cruise control, rear-view camera.
EX variant additional features: Roof rack, leather wrap interior in two-tone
colours, three zone automatic
climate control and powered tailgate.
Price: RM169,888 for KX variant and RM185,888 for EX variant (on-the-road with insurance)