The Kia Grand Carnival has been upgraded for the 2012 model year, with a new diesel engine, revised line-up and new specifications and prices.

The short wheelbase Kia Carnival S has been dropped from the local line-up, and along with it goes the 2.7-litre V6 petrol engine.

The entry-level S model line has now been added to the long wheelbase Grand Carnival range, coming in under the existing Si, SLi and Platinum lines.

The discontinuation of the short wheelbase Carnival means the cheapest Kia eight-seater is now $38,990 ($3000 more than before), although it also means the entry-level price of the larger Grand Carnival has come down by $1000.

The most significant mechanical upgrade is the addition of Hyundai-Kia’s respected 2.2 R-Series four-cylinder diesel engine, which replaces the 2.9-litre unit from the 2011 Grand Carnival model. It produces 143kW of power and 429Nm of torque, up from 136kW and 343Nm.

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The entire 2012 Kia Grand Carnival range now comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission, upgrading the diesel models from a five-speed auto.

The new S model comes with steel wheels while the rest of the range gets alloys.

The SLi now gets a rear view camera, while the Platinum gets an electric opening tailgate and a six-speaker sound system (down from the previous eight speakers, but now with a better head unit for equal sound quality).

All models get cruise control/audio steering wheel controls, as well as auxiliary input, USB audio with iPod compatibility and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.

The Kia Carnival/Grand Carnival is the best selling people mover in Australia, occupying more than 35 percent of the market.

Kia Australia’s Kevin Hepworth said the phase out of the short wheelbase model was not likely to hamper sales, as it only accounted for around 10 percent of total Carnival volume.

He said the seven-seat Kia Rondo attracted many customers after a more compact people mover.

2012 Kia Grand Carnival manufacturer’s list prices:

  • S 3.5 – $38,990
  • Si 3.5 – $40,990 (up $1000)
  • Si 2.2 CRDi – $44,990 (up $2400)
  • SLi 3.5 – $46,190 (up $200)
  • SLi 2.2 CRDi – $50,190 (up $1600)
  • Platinum 3.5 – $52,190 (up $200)
  • Platinum 2.2 CRDi – $56,190 (up $1600)