Test drove multiple variants of the Kia Carens: Booked the petrol DCT

Found the iMT as a nifty solution if you want the fun of driving a manual but don't want the hassle of pressing the clutch.

BHPian nightfury95 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I went for a test drive today. Got in touch with my Kia dealer earlier last week and requested to test drive two models of the Carens and they arranged all the cars promptly for my convenient date at the dealership. They did offer to bring the car home but said could only get one vehicle at a time and I didn't want to create a big hassle for either doing it for multiple days so I asked if they could just have the vehicles ready at the showroom and the salesperson I am dealing with made sure all the variants were available at the said time. I test-drove the Diesel AMT, Petrol iMT and Petrol DCT (it was a last-minute choice).

I ended up test-driving all three models along with my dad who took turns mid-way. We had another two of our family members along with the salesperson so the car was almost fully loaded which gave a good real-world use scenario for my case. I finalised my booking for the DCT variant.

A little ironic since I said DCT was out of the picture but I was surprised too after my final decision. Why?

The model I drove first was the iMT petrol variant. Found it as a nifty solution if you want the fun of driving a manual but don't want the hassle of pressing the clutch. It was easy to get used to from the get-go after figuring out the sensitive brake pedal and the little delay in power delivery after pressing the accelerator. I was sold on the variant but waited to make a decision.

Second was the 1.5 Diesel Auto. Coming right after driving the petrol, first thing I noticed was the lack of power but it does get going once the turbo kicks in and the torque felt healthy but was nowhere near as nippy and responsive as the petrol. Surely does struggle to get going initially with the car full and not the best option if the car is going to be full. The engine did feel very refined and the cabin felt quite silent. Long-term thoughts about changing regulations and fuel prices becoming similar plus the car won't be used too frequently made me drop the diesel option right away.

Finally, got to drive the Petrol DCT variant. My friend suggested me to try the DCT too since the previous three days I spent driving my friend's Seltos 1.4 Turbo petrol DCT while attending a wedding in Bangalore giving a little heads up on what to look out for and comparing the new 1.5 powertrain in the Carens. With the recent experience, I set out for the test drive and the getaway felt smooth and just normal like a torque converter automatic, unlike the slightly jerky getaway I felt with my friend's Seltos. I chatted with the salesperson while driving and he was quite honest saying the older DCT from the 1.4 was not refined at lower speeds and had a few issues but this is not the case with the ones in the 1.5 variants. He also told me I could do a more brief test drive to see how I felt with a few more minutes in the car so I took a little longer route with few signals, a little highway distance and the moderate Chennai traffic gave it a bit of test and I did feel the difference, the gear shifts felt seamless all the way and even at lower speeds which are DCTs vain(the Carens tuning seems to be on the gentle side rather than sporty). Swapped mid-way with my Dad taking over the wheels to drive back to the dealership and within a few minutes he said "This doesn't feel like the horrible VW you had" which was bitter but also honest words and he liked the convenience of the automatic and not wanting to still shift without a clutch so this sold me on the DCT variant. Dad is going to be using it the majority of the time so his thoughts were the priority.

Coming to DCT concerns, even though decided I did think for a while before making the final booking:

The ownership experience with my VW Golf GTI was quite a mess. I replaced two gearboxes under warranty within the first 10000km and I don't never pushed the car to its max. The initial one failed due to electrical issues while it was parked and the second one due to overheating while on the highway and my Dad was driving it so it sums up his feelings about my VW. The third one lasted without issues till I sold after a year of ownership but was jerky and did have transmission fluid cooling issues which got corrected by an aftermarket part and a small remapping.

I drove my friend's Seltos initially when it was kind of new and drove again after two years again this time which was already at 6 digit odometer reading. He said he learned to live with the initial jerks but hasn't experienced overheating issues after the couple of initial ones and mentioned very heavy traffic may be an issue which won't be a problem for me since I live in the outskirts of the city and won't be experiencing a lot of traffic daily. Seeing the car that has held up well over the last four years, did give me a bit of a relief it was quite reliable. So it did make my decision easier, while the iMT felt good but the automatic just felt more convenient considering the idea of clutch is not present in both cases. Slotting the gear into N or P in an automatic gearbox during a long halt is always a good practice whether is a TC or DCT. The torque converter is still better and more reliable for day-to-day use but it here had to go for the option available. Like you said Vivek, only time will tell.

Ended up booking the Luxury Plus 7 1.5 T-GDI DCT variant and got a promised delivery window between March 3rd and 4th week. Now got to wait for the car.

A very good observation, Carens is really spacious for a small-looking car from the outside and even the third row felt comfortable for a tall adult.

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