When Dinamikjaya Motors (the sole distributor of Kia vehicles in Malaysia) launched the fourth-generation Carnival MPV in early 2022, it did so with the 11-seater version. At that time, the model was imported in CBU (completed built-up) form from Korea but because of its large number of seats, it could be classified as a commercial vehicle. This meant it was subjected to a lower tax rate.
However, when it came to planning for local assembly, Dinamikjaya Motors looked at the passenger-oriented 8-seater version to start off with. The potential sales volume was higher (which matters when you are assembling locally) even though it would cost more than the 11-seater because it was taxed at a higher rate.
Thus when it was launched, the locally-assembled 8-seater cost some RM35,000 more than the CBU 11-seater – which seemed strange to those outside the industry. It’s one of those odd things about the way our vehicles are taxed.
Nevertheless, there were plans to assemble the 11-seater Carnival for the local market as well as for export to neighbouring countries. The CKD (completely knocked down) version is now on the lines at the Inokom assembly plant in Kulim, Kedah, and orders are accepted by dealers. But since 2022, the ringgit has lost its strength and not surprisingly, the model is now less than the RM196,000 it sold at. In spite of being assembled locally and even enjoying some government incentives, it starts with a selling price of RM213,888 (excluding insurance), which is around RM18,000 cheaper than the 8-seater.
If you book a unit between today and December 31, 2023, you can get it at a special introductory price of RM198,500 (inclusive of accessories).
Only one variant is available, powered by a 2.2-litre Smartstream turbodiesel all-aluminium engine. The output is 199 bhp, with a maximum of 440 Nm of torque available from as low as 1,750 rpm. The 8-speed automatic transmission (torque converter type) is managed by an electronic shifter (E-Shift) for smoother and more efficient operation.
By now the design of the Carnival would be familiar to most people. Unlike the earlier generations which had a traditional MPV form, the latest Carnival takes on an appearance rather like a SUV. In fact, Kia has even tried to position it differently, referring to it as a ‘Grand Utility Vehicle’.
The aim is to move the image of the Carnival up to something more premium, in line with the other Kia models. Thus Kia’s designers departed from all previous convention to come out with a look that is also imposing with its dimensions of over 5 metres in length and 2 metres in width.
The long body is topped by an ‘island roof’ concept, a trend among designers today. The roof appears to be suspended over the cabin, seemingly ‘supported’ by a single pillar. That single pillar is also a signature design for the model with fine detailing that shows a diamond-like pattern.
Although the ‘Tiger Nose’ that Peter Schreyer created is now 16 years old, it remains a brand identifier for Kia and has evolved in so many ways. For the Carnival, it is one of the larger versions with proportions to match the vehicle sized.
Just as the exterior looks have been given a premium image, the same can be said of the interior. Even though, as an 11-seater, it may be perceived as a ‘commercial vehicle’, it is certainly by no means like such a vehicle which is often plain and with basic equipment and features.
Using the design concept of ‘Spatial Talents’, the interior designers have provided a spacious and , comfortable environment with black and grey leatherette upholstery as standard. There’s even a futuristic underlying theme, just like the 8-seater. Whether it is for the transport needs of a family (a very large one) or as a people-carrier for tourist groups, there is comfortable space for occupants of each row.
The only drawback is that when there is maximum occupancy, the available cargo space will be rather limited. This is a common thing with MPVs and can be addressed to some extent with the flexible seat layouts.
The equipment level for this 11-seater version is also generous, which BAuto, Dinamik Jaya’s parent company is well known for. There are LED daytime running lights, Smart Power Sliding doors, Smart Power Liftgate, and a Smart key with one-button open/close functionality for rear sliding door and liftgate.
Other standard features include a 12.3-inch high-resolution LCD Touchscreen, multiple connectivity options including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a wireless smartphone charging pad. If your smartphone does not have wireless charging capability, there are no less than 7 USB ports to get power from for recharging your devices.
The Carnival is also comprehensively equipped with the usual active and passive safety systems. Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Avoidance Assist are standard to assist the driver avoid accidents.
Like other Kia models, the Carnival comes with a warranty of 5 years (or maximum of 100,000 kms), plus free scheduled maintenance for the first 5 years (or maximum of 100,000 kms) of ownership.