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Get carried away; The Kia Carens is a stylish, roomy MPV with pleasing driving dynamics, reports ENDA MULLEN.

Byline: ENDA MULLEN

MPVs used to be huge behemoths of vehicles, designed to carry seven people in a considerable degree of comfort.

But the trend has been for MPVs to get progressively smaller as, by and large, people prefer something a little neater.

Kia's latest Carens is one of the new generation of models that bears the design stamp of Peter Schreyer, who has been overhauling the Korean brand's look.

Just as Kia have come on in leaps and bounds as a brand since 1999, so has the Carens. The latest version is easy on the eye and even brings an element of design flair to a segment that has boxiness as its start point.

The design team have managed to combine a relatively sleek profile with a roomy and family-friendly transporter.

Much of this is down to simple but effective touches, such as the trademark "tiger" nose to be found on other cars in the range.

However, the back of the car looks good, too, particularly the way the lines taper up to create a more rounded profile.

On the inside, the cabin is well laid out and everything is exceptionally intuitive and easy to use.

Rather than a bench, the Carens has three, individual, middle seats, a real improvement in terms of versatility, given that they slide and tilt.

The third row of two folding seats is only really suitable for children or adults on short journeys.

With the rear seats in use, boot space is limited to a few shopping bags. But with them down you get 492 litres of space, which increases to 1650 litres if all the rear seats are folded.

There's a choice of three engines - a 133bhp 1.6 GDi petrol and 114bhp and 134bhp 1.7 CRDi diesels, all mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, with the option of an automatic on the higher-powered diesel.

The Carens comes in a choice of three trim levels - 1, 2, and 3 - and even the basic models come with air-con, remote central locking, Bluetooth and cruise control.

Opt for a 2 and you'll get extras such as dual-zone climate control and parking sensors. A 3 comes with leather, powered driver's seat, panoramic sunroof and reversing camera.

In its segment, the Carens has plenty to recommend it - being a good all-rounder that is well priced and offering reasonably cheap running costs.

STEVE MacAuley, Arnold Clark Kia franchise manager, said: "The Carens is a great familyfriendly car and cheaper to buy than most competitors. With low running costs, excellent safety features, plenty of kit and a seven year/100,000-mile warranty, it is a winning option for those who need a seven-seater people carrier."

Factfile: Model: Kia Carens 2 1.7 CRDi Engine: 1.7-litre diesel Power: 114bhp Top speed: 112mph 0-60mph: 12.6 seconds Average mpg: 60.1 CO2 emissions: 124g/km Warranty: Seven years/100,000 miles Price: PS20,595

CAPTION(S):

ROUNDED J The new Carens has a more rounded profile

GOOD OPTION J The Kia Carens 2 offers space and real versatility
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 16, 2014
Words:509
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