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by Tim Beissmann

Kia Australia has launched an updated version of its Kia Carnival people-mover with safety, fuel efficiency and subtle Schreyer-inspired styling among the key changes.

The range has undergone a naming restructure, with Grand Carnival Si replacing EXE and SLi replacing Premium. Platinum remains the range-topper while the SWB Carnival EXE is now known as the SWB Carnival S and is available only with automatic transmission.

Side and curtain airbags are now standard across the Carnival range, and the SLi and Platinum models also get a rear-view mirror integrated reversing camera system.

The new 3.5-litre V6 Lambda II engine is smaller than the previous model but offers an extra 20kW, taking total power to 202kW.

Teamed with a new six-speed automatic transmission (which Kia claims is the most compact in the world), fuel consumption is down 1.9 litres/100km to 10.9 while emissions have dropped 43g/km CO2 to 259.

The Schreyer family grille heads the visual changes along with new 16in steel wheel covers for the S and Si and new 17in alloys for the SLi and Platinum.

The Carnival has been a dominant force in the people-mover segment in Australia, finishing each year since 2006 as the highest selling vehicle. In total, 29 percent of the people-movers sold since the beginning of 2006 have been Carnivals.

Year-to-date sales for 2010 were up 18.3 percent after May and it continues to lead the way with a 28.7 percent market share, ahead of the Hyundai iMax (21.2 percent) and the Toyota Tarago (14 percent).

Kia Australia President and CEO, Mr MK Kim, said the Carnival update would do the segment-leader no harm.

β€œThe people-mover segment has been under attack for several years now, firstly by the introduction of seven-seat SUVs and then more recently by a global economic downturn affecting families, car rental companies and the hospitality industry – the segment’s three core markets.

“Early indications are that the refreshed Carnival range is entering at a good time. April sales alone are up 51 percent compared to April last year in the people-movers segment. We’re proud to introduce an eight-seat vehicle which sets new standards in safety and fuel efficiency in such an important family driven market,” Mr Kim said.

The new Kia Carnival range begins at $36,990 for the Carnival S. The Grand Carnival Si petrol enters at $41,490 and the diesel Platinum tops the range at $56,990.




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