Review | MADE FOR ROAD TRIPS: Live big in the Kia Carnival

South Africans have discovered a new love for our country, and taking a road trip with loved ones is now commonplace. Kia has rolled out a fleet of carnival cars to emphasize you can live big in its car built for the long road, writes a News24 Motoring editor.
Janine van der Post.

It is almost difficult to understand that only three years ago we were not allowed to leave our cities or provinces. We were confined to our homes and could only make the necessary drives to the grocery store in the strict lockdown. Heck, we weren’t even allowed to buy our favorite magazines or sweets – crazy times.

Slowly but surely, things are returning to normal. Since then, road trips have become popular again here in South Africa and around the world. With Covid-19 restrictions long past us, motorists and their families have discovered a new love of hitting the road to local destinations.

Kia Carnival

But, as important as the final destination is, the car you drive is also important. The people at Kia South Africa know how to celebrate our beloved country and how to find the most beautiful places to drive to – even when they’re abroad. Right under your nose.

Read | The Kia Carnival is the perfect family party bus with more space than a small apartment

For a recent outing, the automaker pulled off a fleet of Carnivals as a fixed option for an epic weekend road trip. We rode a fleet of 2WD 2.2D auto EX+ models (priced at R995 800). Yes, that number sounds ridiculous on paper, but it represents decent value for money when you consider all the bells and whistles that come as standard. In addition, it is one of the most comfortable vehicles to drive, and its trump card is frugal fuel consumption.

Kia Carnival

Kia Carnival

Our group was a group of 15, which meant three Carnivales with four people each – and a lot of luggage, and one Sorrento with three adults. The Carnival was an eight-seater in a 2+3+3 configuration. Even with the three rows of seats up, the boot offers a massive 1,139 litres of luggage space. And if your needs require more space, you can remove the second row and store the third row on the floor, and you’ll have a massive capacity of 4,110 litres, enough to fit a small elephant. Yes, I’m kidding, but you get the picture.

The first part of our trip was a leisurely drive to Franschhoek to reach the hidden gem Lacote Farm As our overnight destination before an early start the next day. This world-famous small town is just a stone’s throw from home, but I had no idea this idyllic wine farm even existed in all the years I passed by the car launches.

(Lacote Farm in Franschhoek).

(Lacote Farm in Franschhoek).

The plantation dates back to 1698, and according to staff there, it was the first of 11 Huguenot plantations given to French immigrants who fled their native country during the 17th century. It’s also the only farm located within walking distance of the village, so taking a lovely, scenic stroll along the way to any restaurant on the main road is a breeze. The rooms and amenities are luxurious, but its magical gardens and buildings are full of old-world charm.

Read also | The new Sorento and Carnival are great new SUVs, but how did Kia become one of the biggest car brands in South Africa?

The front of the car is relatively spacious for the driver and passenger, with plenty of storage space and cargo options; Passengers in the second row are spoiled with more generous dimensions. My husband is much taller than me, and could stretch his legs comfortably when we got back to our cars early after a hearty breakfast.

Kia Carnival 2.2 CRDi EX+ 8-seater outside La

A Kia Carnival 2.2 CRDi EX+ 8-seater outside the Lacôte farm in Franschhoek.

As we were in the heart of the village, our journey then began over the 25km Franschhoek Pass as we headed towards Montagu in very thick fog, which made the start of our three hour walk incredibly slow. Our destination was in the heart of the Little Karoo, along Route 62 to the heavenly Sanbona Wildlife Sanctuary. The drive saw us take some stop-and-go areas on the road to hold the throttle in the corner in some parts. However, we took our time, with numerous stops for breaks and driver changes on the scenic route.

Under the hood is Kia’s latest ‘Smartstream’ 2.2 CRDi turbodiesel engine delivering 148kW at 3800r/min and 440Nm from 1750r/min to 2750r/min. The new engine is more powerful and efficient than the previous unit. The Smartstream engine is coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission and torque converter. Gear shifts are smooth. Even when you’re driving through town, you barely feel it. No matter the driving condition or how you drive, the car feels very solid on the road, despite its massive size. Smooth sailing all the way. There’s hardly any body roll, even when you’re doing some spirited driving or going through twisty lanes. I’ve always been a fan of the dynamics of this big car. Because despite its bulk and weight, it feels like a compact sporty SUV behind the wheel.

Kia Carnival

Kia Carnival

During our trip of more than 200 kilometers, the most important thing that stood out to me about this car was its fuel consumption. The best reading we recorded on our trip was 5.1L/100km, which is very good but not surprising from the 2.2-litre Kia and Hyundai diesels. Kia says the better fuel economy is due to aerodynamic improvements to the wheels, front bumper and mirrors.

The Carnival also supports the same new third generation “N3” platform as the Sorento. Engineers have made the car lighter, more powerful and quieter than the outgoing model, which also means a greater application of sound-absorbing and insulating materials to reduce road, wind and engine noise.

Kia Carnival

Kia Carnival

The fourth generation Carnival will be launched locally in 2022 to replace the Grand Sedona. Although it’s called an SUV, the Carnival offers the best of both worlds. Kia says this car has become a multi-faceted companion for progressive families determined to live big. It has also staked its claim in the unoccupied space between SUVs and utilitarian people movers, ticking all the right boxes with advanced technology, a powerful and frugal engine, and a luxurious cabin.

The Carnival has three different trim levels in the range, with the entry point being the EX model. Features include an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front and rear air conditioning, automatic dimming control, automatic side mirrors, and overhead console lights. There are four USB ports (while the EX+ model has seven), a drive mode select power driver’s seat with lumbar support, leather trim, LED headlights, front and rear park distance control, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, Seven airbags, electronic stability control (ESC) and hill start assist.

Kia Carnival

Kia Carnival

The model There are also rear sunshades and paddle shifters which are very useful on the long road.

South Africans have large families, and if not in their immediate family, there are always grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins ​​to keep them company, so carnival is perfect for this reason as well. The electric sliding doors on both sides are not only convenient when parking your car in tight spaces, but you don’t need to pray that the kids don’t slam the doors on another car next to you. It’s also easier to get in and out with a third row of seats in the back.

Since we were in the car as four people, we didn’t need to leave the third row of seats to make extra space, but we did do so with snack boxes and water bottles galore — as if there weren’t enough storage compartments in the car’s passenger areas either.

The second row of the Kia Carnival can be either two-row

The second row of the Kia Carnival can consist of either two single seats or a three-seater bench.

And if you’re taking all the kids with you, there are USB ports on the sides of the front seats of the car, as well as in the back of the third row, so all the devices can be kept charged to keep the little ones entertained on long drives.

We finally reached Montagu and then drove another 60km to our turn off. The way to Welcome to the wildlife reserve It is a good 20km gravel road that leads to Welcome Lodge. My dear friend was behind the wheel, and we held on to the edge of our seats because her speed was a little more frenetic than the rest of us were comfortable with. However, the Carnival handles rough terrain with aplomb. We then parked our stationary horses and boarded Toyota Quantum minibuses for the 45-minute drive to the game reserve. Man, did we wish we were at our own lavish carnivals instead.

Enjoy the stunning scenery at Sanbona Wildlife

Enjoy the stunning scenery at Sanbona Wildlife Sanctuary outside Montagu.

Sanbona is one of the largest privately owned nature reserves in South Africa, extending across 58,000 hectares of rich protected ecosystems within two biodiversity hotspots. We spotted several wildlife on the way, including great evidence of fresh elephant dung. Driving to the game reserve was like going into the unknown. Then we arrived and the shelter waiting for us in the middle of this conservation paradise was amazing.

Coming home the next day was easy and relaxing, but it made me want to enjoy my own carnival. This SUV may represent living large, but you don’t need luxury accommodations or even drive hours to enjoy the countless places of paradise throughout South Africa. And I completely understand Kia Tsamaya’s catchy TV advert now (watch the video at the top of the article), which is a play on words “Ke ya Tsamaya”, which means “We’re on our way” in Sesotho. This car is made for road trips.

One thing is for sure: I want to go on many road trips and make the most of the precious time with my loved ones, discovering more places we never knew existed. Even if it’s just a hop and skip.

(tags for translation) Janine van der Post

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