In a sort of convoluted way, when Kia Malaysia announced the slightly updated pricing of their models, they reminded Malaysians that the Grand Carnival is an MPV that exists. It’s one of the larger MPVs you can get – and entirely deserving of the Grand in it’s name – but more than that is the fact that it can be incredibly versatile when you need it to be.
Let’s take a look at just how this is possible. For starters it has not three, but four rows of seating – which is impressive considering it has a wheelbase that’s roughly 15 to 20 centimetres longer than other Japanese 7 seater MPVs. Overall length is also not too extreme at 5,115 mm – just 40 cm or so longer than 7 seater offerings. The width also stands at around 20 to 30 centimetres wider than more conventional MPVs.
This is why it’s surprising then that Kia manages to squeeze an extra four people into the Grand Carnival. The Korean brand isn’t exactly known for packaging prowess in the same sense as Honda, and yet it looks like each seat in the rear three rows isn’t absurdly narrow unlike some other MPVs where the middle seat passenger is bound to suffer.
The configurations are also pretty flexible, allowing you to balance occupancy and storage space. For maximum space, there is the 6-seat setup that collapses the fourth row and takes away the centre seats in the second and third rows for a 2 + 2 + 2 setup – which in turn means each row has an almost captain-chair like setup, with room for luggage.
In the 7-seat setup, you can either pop the centre seat out from the third or second row depending on what your goals are, although it would probably be easier to do it with the third row so you can keep the second row as a walk-through setup. At this point you still don’t need to pop up the fourth row, so you maintain your luggage room. The 8-seat setup is fairly self-explanatory, as all you need to do is turn both the second and third rows into benches for a 2 + 3 + 3 setup.
When you inevitably need to carry your 2.02 children (the most current Malaysian average) and grandparents from both sides of the family, and the odd uncle or auntie, you can finally break out that fourth row to truly impress. Granted, with all last row seating it can be a little cramped so it’s probably better to stick the children furthest back, but you end up with a 2 + 3 + 3 + 3 setup for a total of 11 seats.
What’s the price for all of this people-carrying ability? A surprising RM 179,888 is the starting price – which works out to be around RM 16,353 per seat. A strange metric, but one that beats almost every non-national car on the market. You also get a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine that puts out a not insignificant 200 PS and 400 Nm of torque to make sure you have reasonable performance even when you’re carrying a lot of passengers.