Kia Carens 1.5 petrol MT review: Buyer's favourite

This four-cylinder engine puts out 115hp at 6,300rpm and 144Nm at 4,500rpm, and it focuses more on a smooth driving experience rather than outright performance. From the moment you start the engine, it feels refined and quiet at low to mid revs, and it’s only higher up in the rev range that the engine gets loud and feels strained. Off the line, power delivery is smooth and the engine feels responsive to even the slightest of throttle inputs. It doesn’t have the mid-range punch of its turbocharged siblings, but it doesn’t feel gutless either. Furthermore, the light clutch, slick gearshifts and effortless steering make it a breeze to drive in the city or out on the highway. We also tested the Carens 1.5’s performance, and it did the 0-100kph run in 11.59sec. In terms of in-gear acceleration, the Carens does 20-80kph in third gear in 11.69sec and 40-100kph in fourth gear in 16.76sec. Do note though that these figures are not up to the usual Autocar India test standards. The Carens’ overall ride comfort is good, with the suspension doing a good job of smoothening out low-speed bumps. At higher speeds, it impresses with good stability and well-controlled body movements. Around the bends, body movements are kept well in check and the steering provides decent feedback, which aids confidence. The Carens 1.5 petrol-manual is available in just two entry-level trims – Premium and Prestige – and it’s the latter that we’re driving here. There aren’t any badges on the outside to tell you that this is the entry-level, petrol-powered version of the Carens, however, you will be able to tell that this isn’t a top-spec car as it rides on smaller 15-inch steel wheels with covers, gets halogen headlights instead of LEDs and lacks chrome trims. Furthermore, the Kia Carens 1.5 petrol can only be had in three colours – White, Silver and Grey – with the other options being reserved for higher variants. Gets smaller 15-inch rims with wheel covers. With all rows up, boot space is a nominal 216 litres; fold down the rear two rows and it’ll open up 1,164 litres for some serious cargo carrying capacity. There are also plenty of cubbies and storage spaces dotted around the cabin. Being entry-level trims, they miss out on plenty of kit like alloy wheels, auto climate control, ventilated front seats, a sunroof, LED lights and much more. Furthermore, it misses out on some basics like a rear wiper/washer and electrically foldable wing mirrors, which it really ought to have at this price. Still, the Prestige variant you see here is not barebones, it gets features like an 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, an LCD instrument cluster, a 6-speaker audio system, AC vents for all rows, part-leatherette upholstery, front parking sensors, rear camera, 6 airbags, ESC, hill-start assist and a tyre pressure monitoring system. The Kia Carens 1.5 petrol is priced at Rs 10.45 lakh for the Premium trim and Rs 11.75 lakh (ex-showroom, India) for the Prestige trim. In comparison, the Ertiga ZXi+ manual costs Rs 11.63 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). That’s a marginal difference between the two and the Carens benefits from a roomier cabin, a more powerful engine and it doesn’t lose out much in terms of features. Buyers will also appreciate the 3 year/unlimited km standard warranty that comes with the Carens. Like all mainstream models from Kia, the Carens’ strength is in the variety of powertrains it offers. People who want more performance will gravitate towards the turbo-petrol and people who have a higher running with a need for lower running costs will find value in the diesel, and both of these can be had with automatics for greater convenience. But despite those advantages, it’s not hard to see why more buyers opt for this base petrol manual. The lower price point helps of course, but you still get a decently equipped MPV that’s comfortable for seven, practical and easy to drive. MPVs tend to be sensible buys that are more about practicality than emotional appeal, and in that respect, the Carens 1.5 MT excels.

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