Kia Grand Carnival 3.3 (8-Seat): Cavernous Carnival

An all-round improvement on its predecessor in most ways starting from its appearance, driving and more car-like cabin appointment and layout, Kia’s new Grand Carnival is a huge, classy, comfortable and very convenient 8-seat people carrier. However, the outgoing model’s better effective headroom, airy ambiance and front to rear cabin walkability are missed.

A more stylishly-designed and refined successor to Kia’s hugely practical Carnival multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), the latest third incarnation adopts the Grand Carnival nameplate – formerly reserved for long wheelbase versions – across the entire model range. A large MPV – or minivan, as such vehicles used to be designated when the Carnival first arrived in 1998, the latest model is designed with hints of the more currently fashionable crossover utility vehicle (CUV) and in fact shares a basic platform with Kia’s recently launched Sorrento CUV. More spacious and practical than a CUV, the 7/8-seat Grand Carnival also now features a more up-market cabin designed to be more like a traditional saloon car.

Discernibly more modern-looking with cleaner lines and design, the just-launched grand Carnival wears a huge chrome-ringed black honeycomb version of Kia’s contemporary ‘Tiger’ grille, and features a lower chrome-ringed foglight and intake assembly. A more prominently sculpted bonnet and swept back lights trail off to a now more rakish windscreen angle and long roofline. Though lowered for a more dynamic appearance, the Grand Carnival’s roofline and relatively low floor still provide ample cabin space, while its practical and uniformly shaped body is given more sculpted panels and blacked out B-, D- and D-pillars to detract from its bulk and lend a more stylishly contemporary appearance.

Hints of CUV/SUV styling like front and rear skid plate-like panels, muscular rear bumper, horizontal rear lights, tailgate spoiler and large alloys wheels including top-of-the range 19-inch chrome alloys with 235/55R19 tyres, as driven, lend the grand Carnival a more adventurous and imposing presence. However, its huge powered sliding rear side doors and massive lift-gate provide a wide, low and tall berth for cabin and cargo that cannot be match by any CUV for practicality and accessibility. Voluminously spacious, the Grand Carnival is offered with seven or eight seats in standard format, in addition to an 11-seat version available in select regions including some Middle East markets.

Powered by a transversely-mounted 3.3-litre V6 with conventional multi-port fuel injection, the grand Carnival develops 266BHP at 6,400rpm and 234lb/ft torque at 5,200rpm. Driving the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic gearbox, the Grand Carnival’s ‘over-square’ engine is smooth and progressively linear in delivery, silkily building to relatively high rev maximum torque and power peaks. Refined and high-revving the Grand Carnival’s engine provides precise throttle control to allow one to dial in exact increments of power without suddenly over-powering the front wheels. Though not afflicted by sudden or massive wheelspin or torque-steer, the Grand Carnival has enough oomph to deliberately chirp the tires when launched aggressively from standstill.

Capable of crossing the benchmark 0-100km/h sprint in 8.6-seconds and a 190km/h top speed, the near two-ton Grand Carnival’s smooth delivery is complemented by good low- and mid-range responses and flexibility. However, for quicker reflexes one needs to downshift and access the Grand Canival’s high rev sweet spot, by either throttle kickdown or using the well-located gear lever sequential shift function. Set-up for smooth and comfortable shifts, the Grand Carnival could do with slightly quicker gear changes in sequential mode. Able to return 11.1l/100km fuel efficiency for such a large weighty vehicle, the Grand Carnival’ large disc brakes also proved effective in bringing it to a stop from speed.

Built using a higher proportion of 52% ultra high tensile steel – compared to 7% in the old model – in its unibody frame, the new grand carnival boasts a 174% gain in torsional rigidity, which translates into improved ride, handling and safety characteristics. Ride refinement and noise, harshness and vibration levels are also improved with thicker sound proofing, new underfloor panels and improved carpeting and windscreen wipers. Riding on front MacPherson strut and rear double wishbone independent suspension, the Grand Carnival features improved handling, stability and is more settled on rebound owing to stiffer suspension bars and bushings, and a front axle hydraulic rebound spring.

Smooth, quiet, refined and stable at speed or in town, the new Grand Carnival feels better controlled, tighter and more agile than its’ predecessor. Though firmer, its’ greater level of control translates into improved comfort through corners and on rebound. Supple and fluid over imperfections, the Grand Carnival leaves passenger unperturbed. Turning into corners more tidily and with less body roll than expected of its’ segment, and features a high level of rear grip and high speed stability owing to its long wheelbase. Using hydraulic power assisted steering with a slower ratio than the electric-assisted Sorento, the Grand Carnival’s steering is light, smooth, comfortable and set-up for long-distance highway directional stability and in-town maneuverability.

With a more up-market style and ambiance than its predecessor, the new Grand Carnival’s cabin features a more deliberate sense of design, with an emphasis on horizontal shapes and lines for a greater sense of space, and a more car-like large centre consol. Also included are more ergonomic and stylish layouts, materials, textures and instrumentation, which include leather seats and glossy panels. Spacious and convenient, the Grand Carnival accommodates up to eight passengers and features excellent front space and visibility, with a commanding driving position, highly adjustable seat and steering. Rear seats may have lost a little headspace owing to the lowered roofline, but seating space is still ample.

Versatile, spacious and convenient, the Grand Carnival’s cabin features easy access to its 60:40 split and flat folding third row and individually split tilt and slide middle row seats. Numerous and generous storage spaces are provided including a huge centre console bin and optional cooled glove box. Cargo capacity is huge, and can accommodate a minimum 359-litres cargo behind the third row, given the low floor cavity into which the third row folds into. With third row folded, cargo volume expands to 1,532-litres behind the second row and a van-like 2,718-litre when the second row is also folded down.

Well-equipped, the Grand Carnival standard and optional list is extensive and includes practical features like a rechargable flashlight, heated steering wheel, auto de-fogging and optional 7-inch instrumentation screen and 4.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, with around-view monitor, reversing view guidelines, parking assistance, dual sunroof and 8-speaker Infinity sound system. Depending on market, available active safety equipment includes blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane change warning systems, and active cruise control to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. In addition to stability control, the Grand carnival also features up to eight airbags, including driver, front passenger, side and curtain airbags.

Kia Grand Carnival 3.3 (8-seat)

  • Engine: 3.3-litre, transverse V6-cylinders
  • Bore x stroke: 92 x 83.8mm
  • Compression ratio: 10.6:1
  • Valve-train: 24-valve, DOHC
  • Gearbox: 6-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive
  • Gear ratios: 1st 4.252:1; 2nd 2.654:1; 3rd 1.804:1; 4th 1.386:1; 5th 1:1 6th 0.772:1
  • Reverse / final drive: 3.393:1 / 3.195:1
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 266 (270) [199] @ 6,400rpm
  • Power-to-weight: 133.5BHP/tonne
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 234 (318) @ 5,200rpm
  • Torque-to-weight: 159.6Nm/tonne
  • 0-100km/h: 8.6-seconds
  • Top speed: 190km/h
  • Fuel consumption, urban / extra-urban / combined: 14.9- / 10.7- / 11.1-litres/100km
  • CO2 emissions, combined: 257g/km
  • Length: 5,115mm
  • Width: 1,985mm
  • Height: 1,740mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,060mm
  • Track, F/R: 1,745 / 1,752
  • Overhang, F/R: 955 / 1,100mm
  • Ground clearance: 171mm
  • Aerodynamic drag co-efficiency: 0.33
  • Headroom, 1st / 2nd / 3rd row: 1,010 / 1,000 / 987mm
  • Legroom, 1st / 2nd / 3rd row: 1,040 / 1,045 / 885mm
  • Shoulder-room, 1st / 2nd / 3rd row: 1,622 / 1,602 / 1,508mm
  • Luggage volume, behind 3rd / 2nd / 1st row: 359- / 1,532- / 2,718-litres
  • Kerb weight: 1992kg
  • Steering: Hydraulic-assisted rack & pinion
  • Lock-to-lock: 3.27-turns
  • Turning Circle: 11.2-meters
  • Suspension, F/R: MacPherson struts / double wishbones, coils, anti-roll bar
  • Brakes, F/R: 320mm ventilated discs / 324mm discs
  • Tyres: 235/55R19 (optional)