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Kia Rondo7 won't oust Carnival here

The Rondo is a much better-looking car than the model it replaces.

That decision is despite the European move away from the full-sized people-mover with the new mid-sized model. The new Rondo goes on show at this week’s Paris Motor Show and sits on a stretched version of the C’eed small car platform. It will be sold globally in five-seat and seven-seat configurations, which has led the British market to use it as a replacement for the Carnival (known as a Sedona in the UK) mini-van.

Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth says that won’t be happening here, due largely to the Carnival’s continued popularity with families who need the space a full-sized mini-van provides. “One in three of all people-movers are Kias and the Carnival accounts for most of those sales,” Hepworth says. “We expect the Rondo to attract a broader range of buyers but it won’t be at the expense of Carnival sales.”

“The Carnival is also due for an update within the next 18 months to two years and that should reinforce its position as the preferred people-mover in Australia.” The Rondo is a much better-looking car than the model it replaces, picking up the corporate “tiger” grille as part of design overhaul intended to give it a sportier, lower profile. Designing the car for both looks and packaging made it a major challenge, Kia’s chief designer Peter Schreyer says.

“This car needs to look appealing and attractive but … we never lost sight of the fact its packaging flexibility and adaptability are why people buy these cars,” he notes. The Rondo will go in sale in Australia in April or May next year, though it will continue as a seven-seat only vehicle. Two petrol engines are on the cards _ a 1.6 direct-injection unit with 99kW/165Nm and a 130kW/211Nm 2.0-litre.

Hepworth confirms Australia is also looking at the 100kW/330Nm 1.7-litre diesel engine. All variants will run a six-speed manual gearbox, with an optional six-speed auto for the high-spec petrol and diesel. Electric power steering is standard across the range and uses Kia’s “FlexSteer” system to adjust steering weight in Comfort, Normal and Sport modes.

The rear pair of seats on the seven-seat models fold flush in to the floor to extend luggage capacity from 103 litres up to a family friendly 492 litres. Kerb weight ranges from 1383kg from the base five-seat petrol model to 1525kg for the 1.7-litre diesel with seven seats and an auto transmission.

The Rondo has yet to be crash-tested but Kia expects it to earn a five-star rating, thanks to high-strength steel throughout the body. A lane-departure warning system and automated parallel parking will be options on the European cars, as will a rear-view camera and bi-xenon headlamps.