KIA describes the Carens as a multi-purpose vehicle with real sports utility vehicle attitude and in that statement they have summed up the model perfectly.
For whilst it has all the versatility and storage facilities one has come to expect in an MPV, there is a distinctively sporty feel to the Carens thanks mainly to its I-mean-business design complete with tinted windows and roof bars that can carry up to 80kg in weight.
Inside the vehicle is a whole host of storage options including a large glove box, door pockets, sunglasses holders, cup holders, a vast amount of room under the central armrest and seats that can literally be folded flat to make a bed… if so desired!
The mid-range GS model supplied for my test drive was designed as a seven-seater although the vehicle can also be purchased as a five-seater. There was an abundance of space throughout with light flooding into the cabin from all directions through the very large windows. This means all occupants are treated to a light and spacious atmosphere, although passengers in the third row will be a lot more comfortable if they are of the smaller variety.
Creature comforts are plentiful too with an excellent integrated CD sound system with MP3 compatibility, air conditioning, electric windows front and rear, leather trim to the steering wheel and gear stick plus plenty more.
And as one would expect from Kia, the safety list is very comprehensive and thorough too. There is, for example, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, airbags all round, central locking and lots more besides.
The drive itself was also surprisingly good. I’m not being over critical but quite often these MPVs feel very cumbersome and handle with about as much finesse and agility as a Panzer tank - not so the Carens.
In and around town it was easily manoeuvred through heavy traffic with the driver benefiting from very good all-round visibility. Then out on the faster roads, the 2.0-litre engine delivered plenty of oomph.
All in all, the Carens is ideal for the family that loves the active lifestyle, but doesn’t want to be stuck with a characterless lump of metal to drive around.
Kia Carens 2.0 CRDi GS 7-seat
Mechanical: 138bhp, 1,991cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 11 seconds
Combined mpg: 45.6
Insurance group: 10
CO2 emissions: 159g/km
BIK rating: 17%
Warranty: 5yrs/ 100,000 miles