Kia Carens 1.5 turbo-petrol iMT review: People pleaser

    The iMT gearbox in the turbo-petrol engine focuses more on convenience than performance.

    Published on Jun 13, 2023 12:39:00 PM


    Make : Kia
    Model : Carens
    We Like
    • Punchy engine
    • Multiple trim options
    We Don't Like
    • Not economical

    The Carens MPV, which accounts for 26 percent of Kia's sales, has become the new growth driver for the brand. Now, Kia looks to further strengthen the Carens’ desirability with a new turbo-petrol engine and an iMT gearbox, and offering this combination on lower trims as well. So how does the powerful and “enthusiasts” turbo-petrol engine work on an MPV with an iMT?

    2023 Kia Carens iMT exterior

    In terms of changes or updates, you will be left scratching your head since there are no telltale signs on the car to either indicate that this has the more powerful engine or that it gets an iMT gearbox – no badge or sticker to differentiate it. The diesel version, however, does get an iMT badge. The gloss black tiger nose grille, LED headlamps, 16-inch diamond-cut wheels and rear LED tail-lamps with the elongated reflector have all been carried over.

    There are no visual differentiators to mark out the new turbo-petrol engine. 

    2023 Kia Carens iMT interior

    The same story continues on the inside too, where the only new bit is the auto-start stop button and the lack of a clutch pedal. The blue and beige upholstery, sunroof, ventilated seats, wireless charging and all other features from the top-spec Luxury Plus trim remain.

    The premium feel, well-built cabin and practical interiors have always been a Carens highlight. The second-row seating is comfy and spacious, and the last row remains good enough for adult occupants as well.

    The interior still feels premium and well built.

    2023 Kia Carens iMT engine and performance

    Owing to BS6 Phase 2 norms, Kia has swapped the older 1.4-litre turbo-petrol unit for a newer 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, which is shared with the Hyundai Verna and Hyundai Alcazar. In the Verna, it is available with a manual transmission and a DCT gearbox, since performance is a higher priority.

    The new 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine is shared with the Hyundai Verna and Alcazar.

    The Carens, on the other hand, gets a 6-speed iMT to make it more cost effective and convenient for the target audience. With 160hp and 253Nm, the Carens aims to make driveability even more effortless, especially with a full-load.

    The engine scores well on refinement and NVH levels, and power delivery is linear too. Torque is fed evenly making the drive a lot smoother, and in line with an MPVs requirements. Needless to say, outright performance is significantly better than the Maruti Suzuki XL6.

    At low revs, the engine putters along, but it can swiftly pick up the pace, making overtakes a lot less cumbersome.

    2023 Kia Carens iMT gearbox

    Kia has ditched the manual transmission entirely on the new 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, since owners would prefer a low-cost, semi-automatic gearbox that can relieve their left leg from the endless shifting in city traffic. Sure, it leans more towards convenience than performance, but in the Carens that's a positive.

    The 6-speed iMT on the Carens is well tuned for city use.

    The DCT, which is still an option on the Prestige Plus, Luxury (O) and Luxury Plus, is expensive, and brings down the value-for-money quotient.

    The iMT is well-tuned for the city and is quite tractable too. Once you shift to second gear, you can drive at as low as 8kph without shuffling between first and second. Should you miss to downshift, it chimes and prompts a warning on the MID screen to shift to the ideal gear.

    What the iMT also does is allow for more driver engagement with manual shifting. However, you cannot rush this gearbox or do power shifts. You need to be sedate and patient, and allow the electric actuator to engage the clutch. Rapidly shifting will wear it down.

    2023 Kia Carens iMT price and verdict

    The updated Carens with the turbo-petrol engine and iMT gearbox starts at Rs 11.99 lakh, and goes all the way up to Rs 17.54 lakh. Compared to the Maruti Suzuki XL6 that ranges between Rs 13.06 lakh-14.66 lakh, the Carens now offers variants that get more equipment, better build, a premium interior and a lot more performance.

    Practicality and ease of use are the biggest strengths of the Carens turbo-petrol iMT.

    We don’t have our official fuel efficiency figures yet, but the MID numbers hovered around 7.5-8kpl. Still, while the top-spec Luxury Plus trim (seen here) looks like a steep ask, the mid-spec Prestige or Prestige Plus offer good features, safety like 6 airbags and all-wheel disc brakes, and makes for a better value proposition. For a hassle-free drive experience with solid performance and a good amount of practicality, the Carens iMT scores well.

    Also See:

    Toyota Innova Hycross review: Moving the goalposts

    Tech Specs

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    Paras Malviya - 193 days ago

    I am almost leaning towards Kia Carens Prestige Plus iMT petrol. Only thing which I feel should be added in it is In-build Navigation and Fog light. Other stuff like replacing Halogen lamp with LED light is still feasible without impacting Insurance. Can someone please respond if iMT performance is an issue on Hill Drive or bumper to bumper traffic in city. Dhanyawaad.

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