KIA Motors Corporation (KMC) has officially debuted its fourth-generation Carnival people-mover, offering more space, higher performance and an “SUV-inspired design” that separates it from its predecessors.
Due to launch in Australia in the final quarter of this year, the fully redesigned MPV – now dubbed a Grand Utility Vehicle, or GUV – is built on an all-new platform and, according to the South Korean car-maker, is pitched primarily towards “progressive young families”.
The new Carnival measures 5155mm long (+40mm) and 1995mm wide (+10mm), rides on a 30mm-longer wheelbase at 3090mm and has a 30mm-longer rear overhang – all figures that point to a roomier cabin, particularly for third-row occupants, and claimed best-in-class cargo space of 627 litres.
With the second and third rows folded flat, the cargo volume increases to 2905L, while the sill height at the rear end has been lowered by 26mm to 640mm for easier loading and unloading.
Under the skin, a new fully independent suspension system has been fitted to keep the enlarged body in check and improve ride quality across the board, with particular emphasis on “better distributing lateral loads” at the front and “better managing changes in the road surface” at the rear.
Other technical changes include new electric steering claimed to be 5.6 per cent faster than the previous hydraulic system, and which allows for new active safety features to be integrated.
Sound-proofing has also been stepped up significantly thanks to new insulation materials around all four wheelarches, a full underbody cover, denser engine bay insulation and a reshaped air intake designed to lower engine noise at higher speeds.
On the subject of engines, three powerplants will be offered internationally, two of which have been carried over from the outgoing model – albeit significantly updated and shared with the new Sorento seven-seat SUV.
The first is a 200kW/332Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine featuring a new integrated thermal management system in the name of efficiency, while the other is the familiar 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel that produces 148kW/440Nm.
More than 20kg has been shaved from diesel engine thanks to its new aluminium block (replacing cast-iron), while high-pressure injectors, new balancer shafts, new thermal management system and selective catalytic reduction measures contribute to enhanced efficiency and cooling.
A more potent direct-injection version of the 3.5-litre V6 – developing 216kW/355Nm – will continue to be offered overseas.
Drive, regardless of engine choice, is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
On the style front, the new Carnival draws inspiration form KMC’s SUV line-up with a higher and longer bonnet and a shorter front overhang that go some way to justify the ‘GUV’ nomenclature.
As GoAuto reported when the first exterior images of the Carnival appeared in June, the centrepiece of the new model’s front end is its ‘tiger-nose’ grille, with the rest of the fascia being a new take on the brand’s ‘tiger-face’ design language, featuring an elaborate new headlight arrangement and integrated daytime running lights.
Further down, the Carnival has been given a set of heavily contoured ‘cheeks’ as well as a large lower air intake surrounded by metallic trim, all emphasising its SUV-like character.
A full-length parabolic line runs down the flanks of the wagon, from the back of the headlight arrangement to the beginning of the new tail-light arrangement, incorporating the rails of the sliding rear doors to not only be functional but part of the overall aesthetic.
The tail-light arrangement itself sits flush and in line with the parabolic line, with the individual lamps arranged to match the headlight arrangement at the front.
A subtle chrome strip runs parallel to the light strip, carried on from the curved silver C-pillar and underlining the rear window.
Inside, Australian-delivered vehicles will continue to be offered exclusively with eight seats (across three rows) as opposed to the 11-seat option (with four rows) that will be available overseas.
According to KMC, the cabin has been designed around the concept of ‘spatial talents’, culminating in its emphasis on space and modernity.
“The interior represents an increase in quality and design over its predecessor … the hi-tech ambience is most obvious in its wide, panoramic-screen dashboard design, which integrates dual-screen infotainment technologies and haptic touch controls,” the car-maker said.
The instrument cluster is a 12.3-inch all-digital affair blending seamlessly with the prominently mounted 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen – not dissimilar to Mercedes-Benz’s dual-screen system.
Wireless Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and voice recognition are all included as standard, while Kia Live services can provide live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest and details of potential on- and off-street parking, depending on the market.
The system is compatible with two devices at a time while a new ‘rear passenger voice recognition’ system allows those in the second row to issue commands.
Other standard equipment includes a new ‘rear passenger view and talk’ feature allowing front occupants to monitor and communicate with those further astern without turning around in their seat or raising their voice.
There is also a one-button smart open-and-close feature for the rear power-sliding doors and tailgate, while a shift-by-wire dial for the transmission – as seen at the higher ends of the Hyundai Motor Group, such as with Genesis – is positioned at the base of the centre console.
In terms of safety, the new Carnival comes standard with KMC’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) which – depending on the market – include forward collision-avoidance assist with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection, multi-collision braking system, lane keeping assist, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, intelligent speed-limit assist, driver attention warning, blind-spot view monitor, high-beam assist, smart cruise control, lane following assist, highway driving assist (level two autonomous driving) and a surround-view monitor.
Safe exit assist is also featured, designed to prevent the rear doors from opening if it detects a car approaching from behind on either side, helping to reduce the risk of “young passengers” being injured or run over when exiting the car.
KMC’s vehicle stability management and electronic stability control systems are also fitted as standard.
According to Hyundai Motor Group head of product Thomas Schemera, the Carnival “has been well-regarded by buyers for a long time” and that this new model “improves the quality, versatility and useability of its predecessors”.
“With a sophisticated design and cutting-edge technologies to provide owners greater value in their daily lives, the new model solidifies Kia’s role in its segment,” he said.
So far this year ending July, Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) has sold 2456 Carnivals, accounting for a dominant 57.7 per cent share of the $60,000+ people-mover segment.
Despite this figure being some 38.2 per cent lower than the same period last year, the Carnival’s nearest rival is the Honda Odyssey with 667 sales.
KMAu says local pricing and specification details of the new model will be released closer to launch.