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Kia's Carnival: Creating a New Market

26 February, 1999

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"The market is ripe for a people mover at a razor sharp price"

Importation of Kia's all new V6 Carnival will go ahead as soon as possible if public reaction at the Melbourne International Motor Show bears out what Kia Motors Australia already strongly suspects - that the Australian market is ripe for a people mover at a razor sharp price.

"Carnival is an excellent concept that has been beautifully executed, but to succeed in this market it must have the right mix of an aggressive retail price and good sales volume," the General Manager of Kia Motors Australia Mr David Hughes said.

The Carnival is being strongly sought by all of Kia's major export markets.

In the United States, where more than 80,000 Kia Mentors and Sportages were sold during 1998, the Carnival is eagely awaited. It will be re-named Sedona in the USA after the desert town a couple of hours north of Phoenix, in Arizona, and the Americans have told the factory that they will take the Sedona in high volumes. Given the runaway success of the vehicle in Korea (also a left-drive market) production of right-hand-drive models has been on hold for some time.

But right-drive production has been scheduled and Australian specification prodiletion will be at the start of the order.

"We have to be sure that we can secure the vehicle at a price that will be truly competitive," Mr Hughes, said. "We are aiming for retail pricing that starts from the low $30,000 bracket, which would ensure that the Carnival, rather than selling against existing people movers, would open up a whole new market. It would offer a new-car alternative to people who currently buy people movers secondhand, as well as offering a better solution to buyers of traditional wagons and multi-seat four-wheel drives."

He said Kia would survey visitors to Melbourne Motor Show to gauge their reaction to the vehicle, and was confident the results would show a ready market for file Carnival.

Carnival Creation

Have you ever wondered just where large families find all the money it takes to buy a people mover? A large part of the explanation is that three out of every four people movers you see on the roads have been bought second-hand.

The product designers at Kia's Sobari research and development centre in Seoul, set out with just one objective for the Carnival to develop and build a vehicle for large families that large families can afford.

While they were given a very open brief, they always knew that if they could spot a chance to save money without compromising the integrity of the new vehicle, then they were to grab it.

The result is the first product out of Korea that promises to do for buyers of people movers what Korean products have already done for mini, small and medium car buyers - provide solid, safe and reliable vehicles that rewrite the value equation. No wonder Carnival is so eagerly sought in Kia's burgeoning international markets.

The attractive, smoothly flowing lines of the Carnival feature some upscale touches such as a roof rack and front and rear fog lamps. Wide-opening front doors and sliding rear doors on both sides provide unrivalled ease of entry and exit, while the light, top-hinged rear hatch gives fast and easy access to the cargo area.

The Carnival has been built on a front-wheel-drive car platform to deliver car like ride and handling. Its all independent suspension uses MacPherson struts at the front and a five link system with coil springs at the rear to give positive handling and ride quality which is comfortable at every seating position. Given that lots of younger passengers can be expected, a priority in setting the ride characteristics was to make the vehicle as free from pitch as possible. Pitch is the major cause of motion sickness, and this objective has been greatly assisted by a wheelbase just nine centimetres short of three metres.

Clever design, with seating that slides, rotates and folds, has ensured a wide variety of seating and cargo-carrying options, and in seven-seat format there is full walk-through from the front bucket seats to the rear. In eight-seat format walk-through is maintained between the front bucket seats, while in nine-seat format passengers ride in three rows of three people each.

Despite looking and driving like a more compact vehicle, the Carnival could never be called a mini van. With its 2910mm wheelbase and an overall length of nearly five metres (4890 mm) there is room for a full load of passengers and their cargo.

The Carnival is offered in its home market with the choice of two engines, either a petrol V6 or a turbocharged, intercooled four-cylinder diesel.

The lightweight 2.5-litre quad-cam V6 was developed jointly between Kia and Rover. It features a vibration-resistant aluminum block and an electronically-controlled variable flow intake system. While specifications based on Australian 92 RON unleaded fuel are not available, in Korean trim the 24-valve V6 delivers 129 kW of power at 6500 rpm with 223 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. It will take an awfully steep hill to slow down a Carnival.

The petrol V6 is the preferred engine for the Australian market and will also be the only engine available in the United States, but in Korea a 2.9-litre four-cylinder turbochcharged and intercooled diesel is optional. The 16-valve double overhead cam shaft direct injection diesel delivers 102 kW of power at 3800 rpm and a whopping 308 Nm of torque at a very useable 2000 rpm. Despite its prodigious pulling power the diesel is both. quiet and economical, with twin balance shafts to smooth out vibration.

Buyers can choose between a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic with power and economy modes, both of which have been designed around smooth shifting and economy.

The vehicle has been designed to meet or exceed all applicable safety standards with integral crush zones and a full complement of safety features.

Some of the questions that led to Kia's Carnival

Truly clever design involves more than a blank sheet of paper and a head full of blue skies. A clever designer knows who the potential buyers are, what they want and, most importantly, what they're prepared to pay for it. Really clever designers deliver it to them better and taster than their opponents.

Question: What's the best way to make a people mover ride and handle like a car?
Answer: Build it on the same platform as a car.
Bonus: You'll save development and tooling costs, meaning a lower retail price.

Question: How can you offer a vehicle with walk-through from the front that has a console-mounted transmission shift rather than a dated, inconvenient column shift?
Answer: Change the plane of the floor shift from horizontal to approaching vertical.
Bonus: It's terrific to use and it works with manual as well as automatic.

Question: How do you offer the most flexible combination of seating space and cargo space?
Answer: Build a vehicle in which all the rear seats slide as well as fold.
Bonus: In seven-seat format the centre seats rotate as well.

Question: With lots of kids on board, what's the best way to reduce pitch, the big cause of motion sickness?
Answer: Stretch the wheelbase as far as possible.
Bonus: As well as improving the ride, you'll increase cabin space and reduce front and roar overhang.

Carnival features (Melbourne Motor Show display vehicle) Outside:

  • 15-inch alloy wheels
  • Folding wing mirrors
  • Fog lamps (front and rear?)
  • Halogen headlights
  • Power sunroof
  • Ventilated disc brakes
  • Inside:
  • 8 speaker AM/PM stereo cassette with CD player & steering wheel remote control
  • Climate control aft conditioning with ambient temperature display
  • Console bin
  • Cup holders front & rear
  • Power door locks
  • Power steering
  • Power windows
  • Armrests on all bucket seats
  • Leather upholstery
  • Overhead sunglasses bin
  • Power driver's seat
  • Rear fan controls & reading lights
  • Safety:

  • ABS
  • Air bags
  • Side door impact bars
  • Energy-absorbing steering column
  • High-mount rear stop tight
  • Childproof rear door locks
  • Traction control
  • Unibody construction

  • Carnival specifications



    J3 TDI DOHC turbo Diesel

    V6 petrol

    Displacement (cc)



    Bore x stroke (mm)

    97.1 x 98

    80 x 82.8

    Power (kW \@ rpm)

    102 \@ 3800

    129 \@ 6500

    Torque (Nm \@ rpm)

    308 \@ 2000

    223 \@ 4000



    Independent MacPherson struts and stabiliser


    Independent Coil springs, trailing arms and stabiliser



    Five-speed with clutch locking system


    Electronic four-speed with power & economy modes
























    2.540 (TD) 2.655 (V6)



    Power assisted rack and pinion



    Ventilated discs


    Drum, solid discs optional

    Wheels and Tyres

    Tyre Size



    215/65R15 optional

    Wheel Size

    6jj x 15 steel


    Alloy 6jj x 15 optional

    Dimensions (mm)    

    Overall length


    Overall width


    Overall height


    Cabin length


    Cabin width


    Cabin height


    Max Cargo area (LxWxH)

    1274 x 1625 x 1235



    Track (front / rear)

    1635 / 1600

    Minimum clearance


    Overhang (front / rear)

    880 / 930


    Kerb weight (kg)

    1745 (automatic V6)

    Towing capacity (kg)

    2424 (braked)
    600 (unbraked)

    Turning circle (m)


    Cargo capacity (litres)


    Fuel tank capacity


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