So far, we have only told you how the Kia Carens performs over long-distance driving. Then be it straight, wide and well-paved national highways or narrow, broken, twisting state highways. We have also told you how it is to drive and be driven in on said road trips. And, as a result of these road trips, we have already clocked close to 9,000km in the Carens in less than four months we have had the car. But now, it's time to tell you how the Carens is to live with in the city. Especially since that's precisely what we have been doing over the past month. Plus, you'd agree, with its peak hour, stop-and-go traffic, poorly surfaced and resurfaced roads; and the tight parking spaces, living with a car in Mumbai isn't exactly a cakewalk.
The rush hour
Having battled rush hour traffic in various cities over the years, I have come to want three things in a car to make my two-hour-long commutes easy on my senses. I appreciate clear visibility, light controls, and a comfortable cabin. The Carens, as it turns out, packs in all three.
The Carens comes with a height-adjustable driver's seat. And along with a huge front windscreen, it gives the driver a commanding and confident view. Furthermore, the A-pillars don't create significant blind spots. The ORVMs are sizeable and offer a clear view of the rear. And the second-row windows are huge, making it easy to see what's coming when merging onto the main road. Overall, this helps take some stress out of driving.
Also mitigating the stress are the light steering and the automatic gearbox. It's also recommended to drive in Eco mode in stop and go traffic to take the edge off the throttle response. This makes the starts and stops more seamless and less jerky. Having said that, the progression of the brake pedal does take some getting used to to get smoother transitions.
There are no such issues with the Carens' cabin. It feels welcoming every time one steps in. It is easy to get inside, the cabin feels roomy, and once seated, the seats are comfy, the controls are logically placed, and with its cooled seats, wireless charging, usable door pockets, and decent storage all around, you rarely find yourself wanting more.
One of the things we liked about the Carens out on the highway was its ride quality. No matter what the road was like - undulating, broken, bumpy, or even ridden with potholes, the Carens never felt fragile or out of its depth handling these challenges. The same holds in the city. At slower speeds, the ride does feel slightly firm, and it can get a tad noisy at times, especially for the last row occupants. But we would still term the ride quality as good because nothing fazes the Carens. The poorly resurfaced roads, the never-ending ripples on flyovers, the unexpected and unnecessary plastic rumblers, the strangely tall speed-breakers, and the constantly wavy tarmac; it rides over it all without throwing a tantrum.
The Carens measures more than 4.5 metres in length and is 1.8 metres wide. So, it's not a small car. And that does present a few challenges. Firstly, most parking spaces seem to be designed for smaller vehicles unless it's one of the newer malls. And if it's perpendicular parking, it's not as much of a challenge. The bigger issue is when one has to get the Carens into a parallel parking spot. It's understood that we are not Germans. And so, we would rarely, if ever, park our cars perfectly in the rectangle we intend to occupy. That means the Carens, which is already as long as the parking rectangle itself, now has a bigger challenge to contend with. Not surprisingly, one has to drive further and work harder to find a parking space.
The good news is that even though finding an ideal parking spot is a challenge with the Carens, parking it is easy courtesy of a parking camera, parking sensors, light steering, and good visibility.
And on a closing note, the Kia Carens has been returning fuel efficiency of over 12kmpl in the city. To put things in perspective, my commute takes a little over an hour to cover 40km in the morning and upwards of two and a half hours to cover the same distance going the other way in the evening, and 12kmpl plus does seem like an impressive number.
Version: 1.4 Turbo Petrol / DCT automatic / Luxury Plus
Kilometres this month: 1,180km
Fuel Efficiency: 12.1kmpl
Price: Rs 20.15 lakh (when tested)
Photography: Kaustubh Gandhi