Kia Carnival V6 2015 review
Malcolm Flynn road tests and reviews the new Kia Carnival S, Si, SLi and Platinum, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Browse over 9,000 car reviews
Sorry, there are no cars that match your search
Sorry, there are no cars that match your search
Meet the new Mercedes-Benz that seats eight people and costs less than a C-Class.
It is called the Valente and is $56,380, which is a sharp price for such a practical machine with a Benz badge on the nose.
The reason it is so relatively affordable is that the Valente has working-class roots and is based on the all-new Vito van, so don't expect S-Class levels of refinement.
The Valente is really big
It shouldn't be confused with the Mercedes V-Class people-mover, which is also based on the Vito platform but has a cabin decked out like a luxury Mercedes and costs $85,500.
The Valente is really big, it has eight full adult-size seats and the rear six are all equal width, with no sneaky narrow middle seats fitted to bolster numbers.
Even with all the seats in place, there is still a vast amount of bootspace at the back and it could easily swallow multiple prams and scooters while leaving plenty of legroom for all the other passengers.
Given its position as a people-mover, the Valente has been decked out with the latest generation electronic stability control. There are driver and passenger airbags and the side curtain bags cover all three rows of seats.
Mercedes has not included a reversing camera as standard, which is absurd for any people-mover, let alone one at this price. Several cars costing less than $20,000 come standard with reversing camera.
As an option, the reversing camera adds $900. That is not cheap but it is less than metallic paint — which costs $1490.
You can load up the Valente with some quite advanced safety gear such as radar collision avoidance, blind spot assist, lane departure warning and so on, but they are bundled into different packages and are not cheap.
Active LED lights, self-parking and satnav are also optional.
Dual manual sliding doors are standard. All the test vehicles at the recent launch had optional electric sliding doors that add $2490.
It has a manual opening rear hatch, which is closed using a basic vinyl hoop instead of a sensible grab handle. This means you have to touch the outside of the hatch, which is likely to be grimy.
There is enough grunt to handle a big family and a load of gear
Each row has vents for the climate control aircon as well as storage cubbies, lights and hooks. The seats slide forward or back, the backrests fold down and each can be tumbled forward (when unoccupied).
The 2.1-litre turbo diesel powering the rear wheels is super clean, meeting the next generation Euro VI emission standard.
It's also very strong, especially when compared with some family haulers. It isn't as refined as a diesel passenger car but it isn't awful, just a bit gruff when pressed.
There is enough grunt to handle a big family and a load of gear, while it can also tow up to 2500kg. The claimed thirst of just 6.3L/100km is also excellent given its size.
You never forget you are in something that has been designed as a commercial vehicle
The seven-speed auto works so well that you just don't notice it. You can control it using paddles on the steering wheel, but don't kid yourself that this will ever lead to a sporty drive.
A new electrically assisted setup, the power steering is very light and requires little force to navigate through tight shopping centres and the like.
The Valente has a lot going for it but you never forget you are in something that has been designed as a commercial vehicle. The simple dashboard is quite plain and made from hard plastic, there are no useful cup-holders and no centre console between the driver and passenger (it is left bare for an optional ninth seat).
It has a small 5.8-inch colour information screen. This is not a touch screen and you have to select items with a small dial — and that gets annoying, fast.
The Valente gets less insulation than a Benz passenger car, so the tyre noise and road noise levels are high-ish. Of course, three, four or more child passengers are likely to make far more noise anyway.
All up, the Valente is well worth a look if you want a genuine large people-mover, especially if you like to drive something from Europe.
Be prepared to spend extra for the reversing camera and power sliding doors options. Those with a bit more cash should consider the more advanced safety gear such as LED headlights and radar collision prevention.
The Valente is one of the most practical people-movers on the road and makes some of the smaller vans, such as the Honda Odyssey, feel a bit cramped.
It is simply massive, so it is great from that perspective, but it is not so refined and doesn't get a reversing camera as standard.
It also has a three-pointed star on the nose, which doesn't hurt one bit.
|(base)||2.1L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO||$29,990 – 44,880||2015 Mercedes-Benz Valente 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|116 Bluetec||2.1L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$35,490 – 36,510||2015 Mercedes-Benz Valente 2015 116 Bluetec Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on 11 car listings in the last 6 months