If you have these two reservations about the car, check out the new Kia Carens
Toyota Wish meets its match KIA CARENS

HEAR ye, hear ye, the Toyota Wish has become Singapore’s best-selling multi-purpose vehicle. Last year, over 6,000 units were registered – more than all the other MPVs combined.

It is easy to see why. The Wish is a compact yet spacious seven-seater with a fuel-sipping and torquey engine that is ideal for city use. It is relatively lightweight, well-equipped and has a contemporary design. It is also priced very attractively.

Its one drawback is that it is sold by dozens of parallel importers – not all of whom are as dependable and reputable as authorised agents.

Some buyers also feel that the model has become a victim of its own success: There are just too many Wishes around. On the road, it seems to be as common as the Nissan Sunny or Toyota Corolla.

If you have these two reservations about the car, check out the new Kia Carens. The Korean seven-seater is going for $65,000 – in the same ballpark as the Wish.

It is broader and taller than the Wish, but not as long tip to tip, wheel to wheel. You get plenty of headroom in the car and decent shoulder room. Legroom is more generous than in the previous Carens, and access to the third row is easier too.

Stowage is stingy when all three rows of seats are up. Those who have no need for seven seats should flip the last one down. Doing so will free up a flat and expansive cargo area that will rival the most spacious station wagon.

This, and the fact that the Carens is now styled more ruggedly, should warm the hearts of those who like the “lifestyle” angle of such a car (parenthood does not count as a lifestyle).

The Carens drives better than most cars in its segment. It offers a plush ride and is well insulated against noise. Its 2-litre engine revs freely and quietly, and offers slightly more oomph than the Wish’s 1.8. These attributes are more obvious at higher engine speeds.

But because the Carens is noticeably heavier, it doesn’t come close to matching the Toyota’s excellent fuel economy. A fair trade-off, considering the Kia drives and handles better. It definitely offers neater turn-ins.

But from a utility point of view, the Carens’ third row of seats are still best for young children. In the Wish, bigger kids can still sit comfortably in that row for extended periods (if they are not prone to motion-sickness, that is).

Finally, the Carens has something which the Wish does not: a separate air-con vent for the second row.

So, if you are among the growing hordes who are enticed by the idea of a compact MPV, be sure you give the new Carens a once over.

Catch the Kia Carens live on motoring.asiaone.com.sg

SPECS

KIA CARENS

Price: $63,999 (with COE)

Engine: 1,998cc 16-valve

Gearbox: Four-speed automatic

Power: 145bhp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 189Nm at 4,250rpm

Top speed: 181kmh

0-100kmh: 11.9 seconds

Fuel consumption: 11.7litres/100km (city)

Agent: Cycle & Carriage Kia