This is our follow-up on the Carens’ highway report card we presented to you last month. You can read that here. At the time, we had told you that this Kia people’s mover made for a lovely long-distance car. Its absorbent ride quality, widespread engine torque, the near unrestricted visibility it offers all around, and of course the fuel efficiency the 1.4-litre turbo petrol offers when driven sensibly; all come together to give it that edge as a long-distance tourer. We also liked the light controls, which helps keep fatigue at bay for most part.
The one test we didn’t report on at that time, however, was the Carens’ passenger compatibility on road trips. And so, this month, we put in a set of occupants prone to motion sickness in the Carens, and took a 1000km road trip over good roads, undulating ones, broken sections, and a couple of winding ghats to see how the passengers held up.
The usual outcome
I have taken this very road trip with these very people on a number of occasions before. And in a number of different cars, mind. But, it mostly goes like this…
All is hunky dory for the first three hundred kilometres or so. Then the one most prone to motion sickness begins to feel uneasy. We lower the windows, drop our cruising speed, and start driving in the slow lane. The latter is just a precautionary measure in case the sickness bag doesn’t hold up. An hour or so later, we generally do have to pull over, because the first one prefers throwing up in a stationary car. It’s less messy that way, he says. The throwing up, of course, triggers something in the second passenger, and now we have two occupants in the queasy zone. Then on, it’s mostly a game that runs in a loop - feel uneasy, lower the window, drop the speed, get hold of a fresh sickness bag, smell something nice, suck on a candy, feel better, wind up the window, get back to speed, feel uneasy…
Till of course, the ghats arrive. We are now only doing 30-35kmph. And for most part, all is well. Then as we are nearing the end, the occupants are hit by another bout of nausea and possibly vomiting. This time the third passenger joins in as well.
It’s the same story on the return journey.
The Carens’ story
In the Carens however, we had only one such instance. The first passenger, the one most prone to motion sickness, was the only one who felt slightly uneasy. And that too on the return run, while we were climbing up the ghats. But that’s it! It was - and I write this with utmost glee - the most comfortable, stress-free, and enjoyable road trip I have taken with this bunch in ages. Only because they didn’t get sick. What’s more, with the Carens, because it didn’t involve a lot of slowing down or stopping for people to empty out their stomachs, we saved almost two hours each way compared to our previous outings.
And, here’s why the Carens did better than the others.
Big windows. One of the reasons people feel motion sick is because their bodies tell them they are moving, but the visual cue is lacking. With the big windows, the passengers' peripheral view was catching the motion even without them trying.
Ride quality. If a car moves too much, it plays into the hand of motion sickness. With the Carens, it might not have the quietest of rides, but it does offer a near flat one. And that means there’s barely any rocking or pitching, be it bad or undulating roads, which again plays in its favour.
Automatic transmission and its drive modes. We did this trip with the Carens being driven mostly in Eco mode. The Eco mode blunts the throttle response. And that means even if the driver doesn’t have the most sensitive right foot to achieve seamless acceleration, the Eco mode does it for the driver as default. This means no unnecessary or abrupt forward and backward rocking motion every time the throttle pedal is called into action. And that results in a reduced probability of passengers getting sick. This will, of course, be even more difficult to achieve with a manual, given there’s the added burden of releasing the clutch as seamlessly as possible.
The last row
With four people on board, and the boot well stocked, the Carens proved to be properly comfortable. However, when we added two more passengers to the last row, the narrative did take a turn for the worse. Our last row passengers complained of two things. One, the ride at the back felt unsettled. It felt fine taking on bumps and troughs, but the damping felt inadequate. And that meant instead of settling down in one stroke, the Carens’ rear kept moving up and down adding to their discomfort.
The passengers also complained about poorer sound deadening at the rear compared to the first two rows. It’s probably a function of how the tail gate sits against the body when closed. But the overall impression was that of tiredness courtesy the noise after an hour in the seats. And lest we forget, the sound system fails to impress in the last row as well. The two passengers said they just couldn’t hear anything; maybe the outside noise seeping in had something to do with it, and maybe even a speaker layout that doesn’t favour the last row occupants. Seats and the feeling of space, as it turns out, did earn their approval.
Version: 1.4 Turbo Petrol / DCT Automatic / Luxury Plus
Kilometres this month: 1320km
Fuel Efficiency: 14.3kmpl
Price: Rs 20.15 lakh (when tested)
Photography: Kaustubh Gandhi & Kapil Angane