Believe it or not, the Toyota Innova was launched at a starting price of Rs 6.74 lakh in 2005. Now, the undisputed MPV king commands a price tag of nearly Rs 24 lakh for the top end. The secret was the supreme comfort followed by Toyota’s bulletproof reliability image.
The Innova was undeterred by competition. Either the alternative was not plush enough (Mahindra Xylo), or simply lacked the appeal (Tata Aria). Toyota smartly introduced a more luxurious variant Crysta and kept the trustable variant at a lower price to cover all segments
Enter 2020, Kia Motors, with its raging success of the Seltos, is ready to launch a MPV – Carnival. Could this be a real threat to Innova? Kia has spared no bells and whistles when it comes to loading the Carnival with luxury and power. What’s unique is space for a fourth row of captain seats. The Carnival in one avatar that can accommodate nine people, with three rows of captain seats. Kia even calls them ‘Luxury VIP’ seats and has individual leg rests. VIPs, listening?
In fact, the Carnival will be available in seven, eight and nine-seater combinations.
Kia doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned. It’s powered by a 2.2-litre, BS6-compliant diesel engine that produce 200hp power and 440Nm of torque between 1,500-2,750rpm. The 2.2 diesel is mated to an 8-speed ‘Sportsmatic’ automatic gearbox. The power is significantly more than the Innova’s 171hp motor.
Where Kia’s really betting on is the interiors. There’s Nappa leather seats, two 10.1 touchscreen displays for rear passengers, dual-panel electric sunroof, three-zone auto climate control, powered sliding rear doors, Harman Kardon eight-speaker sound system, air purifier, electronic parking brake, 10-way adjustable powered driver’s seat with ventilation, wireless smartphone charging, smartwatch connectivity, Yes, there’s also touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, a reverse camera, front & rear parking sensors, cruise control, a smart key with push-button start, tilt- and telescopic-adjust for the steering wheel, side and curtain airbags, ABS with EBD, all four disc brakes and 18-inch crystal-cut alloy wheels, LED projector headlights, Cornering Brake Control, and tyre pressure monitoring system.
Did we say it measures 5,115mm, nearly 300mm longer than the Innova? Will the length be a deterrent or ‘Bada he to behter he’ be more appealing? It’s longer than the Ford Endeveour also.
The price, however, is expected to be more than the Toyota Innova and that is where the Japanese company will be able to have an advantage. Experts suggest a starting price of Rs 26 lakh and crossing Rs 30 lakh for the top Limousine variant. Kia dealers have started taking in bookings unofficially and the launch is expected to happen by January end.