Kia has carpet bombed the MPV segment with the Carens, not only due its aggressive introductory price of Rs 8.99 lakh, but also thanks to its impressive packaging, premium features and choice of engine-transmission options. For a detailed review of Kia’s newest MPV do read our Carens first drive review. If you’re in the market for this six or seven-seater Kia MPV, we tell you which is the variant that deserves to be on your shortlist.
- 1.5 petrol spells great value
- Diesel is Rs 2 lakh pricier than 1.5 petrol, at par with 1.4 turbo
- Automatic is reserved for turbo-petrol, diesel only
Which engine of the Kia Carens to pick?
The Carens is powered by the same set of engines we’ve experienced in the Seltos midsize SUV. There’s a 115hp 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 6-speed manual transmission, and although we haven’t got a chance to review the Carens in this iteration, we’ve driven the Seltos with the same motor extensively. So, we can safely presume that the Carens 1.5 petrol is likely to be smooth and responsive, offering adequate pep to keep up with traffic, which is what most MPV buyers are looking for. Kia offers this engine only in lower variants – Premium and Prestige. But the real deal maker is likely to be its price, which is a significant Rs 2 lakh lesser than other engine options in the range, hence this is the one that’ll tug at the heartstrings of price-conscious buyers and is likely to account for a chunk of the Carens’ sales.
Buyers with higher annual usage will find value in opting for the 115hp diesel engine, which is mated to a 6-speed manual across the range; the top-spec Luxury Plus variant also gets the option of a 6-speed torque converter (automatic). This diesel engine is known for being extremely fuel efficient, as reflected in our real-world Seltos and Sonet mileage tests, and while we haven’t put the Carens to test as yet, it is likely to return impressive numbers. With the diesel version’s price ranging between Rs 10.99 lakh and Rs 16.99 lakh, this Kia also serves as a spacious, feature-laden, easy-to-drive 6- or 7-seat alternative to the Mahindra Marazzo and Toyota Innova Crysta, and could also sway Maruti Ertiga CNG buyers in its favour.
The 140hp turbo-petrol version spices up the Carens’ drive experience and offers the strongest performance from the range. However, it comes at a Rs 2 lakh premium over the 1.5-litre petrol, making it harder sell, especially in the MPV space where practicality is the key deciding factor. In order to push the turbo’s sales, Kia has limited the 1.5-litre petrol range to just lower variants, whereas it offers the turbo-petrol across the range, priced at par with the diesel, between Rs 10.99 lakh and Rs 16.99 lakh. And like the diesel range, all turbo-petrol variants are mated to a 6-speed manual, however the mid-spec Prestige Plus and the top-spec Luxury Plus also get a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic option.
Which variant of Kia Carens to buy?
Kudos to Kia for offering safety kit like six airbags, ESP, hill-start assist, all-wheel disc brakes, tyre pressure monitoring system, and rear parking sensors as standard across the range. As a result, even the base ‘Premium’ variant makes a really strong case for itself, which also gets practical bits like a roof-mounted rear air con, one-touch electric tumble middle row seats, sliding and reclining function for 60:40 middle row, four power windows, five USB Type-C ports, part-leatherette seats and a front armrest, to name a few. But it is worth stretching a bit more and considering the next variant in the range.
The variant to pick is ‘Prestige’, which adds more upmarket touches to the cabin like fabric and leatherette upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, steering-mounted controls, six speakers, electric outside mirror adjustment, as well as some very useful features like front parking sensors, automatic headlamps, reverse camera with dynamic guidelines, remote key entry, burglar alarm, and driver-side one-touch up/down window, among others. It is Rs 1 lakh pricier than the base variant, and for the factory fitted kit it packs in, it is great value for money.
For buyers seeking a premium experience with a more flexible budget, it is worth opting for the top-spec Luxury Plus (over the mid variants Prestige Plus and Luxury), which packs in kit like a sunroof, cooled front seats, ambient lighting linked with drive modes, eight-speaker Bose sound system, wireless charging, Kia logo door projection, and rain-sensing wipers, in addition to features that are offered on the Prestige Plus and Luxury variants like LED headlamps, 10.25-inch touchscreen, air purifier, climate control, push-button start, Kia connectivity features, diamond-cut alloys and more.