Docile looking Kia Carens is a sprinty ninja

By Liz Dobson

There's a two-month waiting list for Kia's seven-seater Carens. Pictures / Ted Baghurst
There's a two-month waiting list for Kia's seven-seater Carens. Pictures / Ted Baghurst

Kia's seven-seater Carens may seem innocuous when it's sitting in a carpark but behind the "soccer mum" exterior lies a motoring equivalent of a ninja mixed with an Olympic sprinter.

It's easy to be lulled into a false sense of normality with the Carens - it sits on the Cerato hatchback platform at 4.425m in length, and add the 1.610m height and you're thinking, "Ah it's just another people-mover".

With seven seats, albeit the last two seats are part-timers, it looks as if the most excitement it gets is doing the school runs or last-minute trips to the supermarket.

But don't be fooled. Open the driver's door, hop up into the high-positioned seat, turn on the engine and plant your foot - and wham, you get the power of the Olympic sprinter and the hidden allure of a ninja.

That's down to the Carens' 2-litre petrol engine that produces 122kW of power and 213Nm of torque, providing a dynamic and responsive ride.

It hoons off at the traffic lights and motorway ramps, providing instant power as the six-speed auto moves quickly to optimum setting, with short ratios between the gears.

With an official fuel economy of 7.9L/100km, my lead foot driving had me hovering around 10L/100km. I wasn't expecting such performance from a vehicle in the family-friendly segment and found myself picking it as my choice of rides for the weekend despite having a luxury European vehicle and sports sedan parked in my driveway.

Priced from $37,990, that includes five-year warranty, the front-wheel drive has such safety features as ESP, six airbags, parking sensors and reversing camera.

And it seems Kiwis also like the Carens, with Kia NZ boss Todd McDonald telling me that there is now a two-month waiting list for the car. "People are also moving out of the likes of the Kia Sportage into the Carens, because they don't need four-wheel-drive but they like the height."

Carens is up against the likes of the all-new Ford Kuga and Volkswagen's Tiguan (both priced from $39,990) but is liable to attract more family buyers thanks to the third row, with competition from Holden's Captiva 7 (from $41,890).

Kia NZ said from the outset that seats six and seven are just part-timers, used for when your kids invite friends over to play after school or to transport kids to events.

That third row has limited leg room but plenty of head space. With the third row in use the rear space is limited, but push down seats six and seven and the area is vast.

Parked on 17in alloys the exterior is macho, due to Kia's famous tiger nose front, LED front dayrunning lights under the headlights and LED indicators on the side mirrors. Inside, two fold-down trays behind the front seats is a nifty trick, while the front dash has the bonus of a touch screen.

- NZ Herald

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