South Korean automaker Kia, marked their comeback in Pakistan earlier this month with the launch of 3.3 liter Grand Carnival MPV.
This is Kia’s third foray in our market. Naya Daur Motors (under the Tawwakal group) was the first to introduce Kia vehicles (Pride hatchback and Ceres pickup) in 1994/95. However according to court filings, the company took over Rs 800 million as booking from 16,000 people and delivered only a few hundred vehicles before going bankrupt. The collected money was allegedly transferred outside Pakistan for the company’s other businesses. This put an utterly bad impression on Kia brand since the after sales support was next to nothing.
In December 1998, Dewan Farooque Motors Limited (DFML) made agreements with Hyundai and Kia to assemble and sell their vehicles in Pakistan. In addition to Hyundai Santro hatchback and Hyundai Shehzore 1-ton pickup, DFML introduced the Kia Classic (Pride-B) subcompact and Kia Spectra sedan in Pakistan. However in 2004 Dewan group started to post losses cascading into problems until things kept turning from bad to worst. By 2008 Dewan was eventually declared the defaulters of over Rs 40 billion, which resulted in the closure of Kia’s second chapter in Pakistan.
Now after a decade of absence, Kia has finally made a comeback in Pakistan. This time however Kia has the strongest chance of getting into the success stream in our country due to the fact that the Kia-Lucky venture is financially the strongest compared to their other two ventures from the past. Secondly the global acceptability of South Korean manufacturer has increased significantly and their product portfolio is better than ever, compared to the likes that were introduced here in previous times.
At this point of time Kia-Lucky has only introduced the Grand Carnival MPV and the Frontier K2700 pickup, while they have showcased the Sportage SUV and Rio hatchback at their dealerships which are supposed to be launched in near future. Below is a brief coverage of Kia vehicles at their dealership in Karachi and our take on the latest offerings by the South Korean automaker.
Kia Grand Carnival
Kia opted the Grand Carnival luxury MPV with a 3.3 liter V6 engine to mark their comeback, instead of Picanto or Rio, the supposedly volume sellers. This is because the company wants to portray a better & upscale image of Kia vehicles as most of the people still relate to the not-so-successful Kia’s of Dewan & Tawakkal era.
Kia has achieved leaps and bounds over the past decade and currently produce much better vehicles compared to the likes of what people of Pakistan have been used to. The Grand Carnival is there to prove just that!
Obviously it’s not going to be a volume seller nor will be assembled locally but it sure wows the public with its superior built quality and endless features on offer. And considering the fact that a Suzuki Vitara costs PKR 38 lac and Honda HR-V is available for PKR 42.2, the Kia Grand Carnival starting from PKR 39.9 lac with all its glory and amenities is an exceptional value for money and a much practical vehicle altogether, particularly if you have to carry a family of 7 or more around with prestige.
It’s an ideal option if you have the luxury of owning more than a couple of vehicles and dedicate the Grand Carnival for the very purpose it has been designed for. However, with a size this big, we believe it’s not an everyday vehicle, at least in Pakistan. Yes it suits you when you are going out on a picnic with your family, a quick weekend getaway or for long road trips, but you won’t really want to maneuver it in congested traffic and tight spaces all day every day. Nor it’s a practical option to utilize it carrying out your everyday errands, as it requires a lot of space to park, let alone drive in crammed city traffic.
Grand Carnival is available in two trims, the base LX and the up-spec EX version. Both the versions are powered by a 3.3 liter V6 petrol engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Features include driver & passenger airbags, 7″ multimedia infotainment system, keyless entry, rear parking assist, projection headlamps, auto adjust beam, 17″ wheels and engine immobilizer.
The up-spec EX version comes with additional features of power retract side mirrors, 18″ wheels, LED lamps, leather seats, power sliding doors, dual sunroof, push start button with smart entry system, automatic AC, fog lamps, chrome garnishing and much more.
Price of the standard LX variant is PKR 39.9 lac while the LX variant is available for PKR 47.9 lac. The Grand Carnival is also available to test drive at Kia dealerships, you can register via the Kia Konnect app.
Alongside Grand Carnival, Kia has also launched the Frontier K2700 1-ton commercial loading pickup. The Frontier pickup comes available with a 2,665 cc diesel engine with 80ps of power at 4,000 rpm and 165Nm of torque at 2,400 rpm, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
The Frontier pickup comes in two trims, the standard and XL. Price of the standard version is PKR 19.99 lac whereas that of Frontier XL version is PKR 20.49 lac. The Frontier K2700 will compete against Ghandhara’s JAC X200 and Dewan’s Daehan Shehzore.
Although the dealership staff has been instructed to remain tight-lipped when it comes to discussing anything (price/ launch) related to the Sportage or the Rio. Our sources indicate that the Sportage is the next-in-line to be launched as evident from the dedicated ‘test drive’ units standing at the dealerships. No timeframe regarding the launch of Sportage has been indicated though.
Like the Grand Carnival, built quality of Sportage was quite impressive. It comes equipped with driver & passenger airbags, panoramic sunroof, ABS with EBD, one-touch power tailgate, smart entry system, multi-function steering wheel, vehicle stability system and rear parking assist etc. The Sportage on display was powered by a 2.0 liter engine paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Rio is primarily there to gauge public interest which is indeed quite positive. We saw most people entering the dealership heading straight to the Rio hatchback which was standing at the very end, bypassing the Grand Carnival and Sportage on their way.
The Rio looks gorgeous and looking at the way it gathered public attention, it’s safe to say that it will become an instant hit whenever launched. There are rumors circulating on social media regarding the launch of Rio for PKR 14.0 lac which are false. However the launch of Rio is said to be either towards the end of this year or early 2019.
One thing is obvious that this batch of Kia vehicles is by far better than all previous Kia vehicles offered in our country in different times. Nothing to exaggerate but Kia dealership in Karachi is right next to Honda Shahra-e-Faisal and once you visit Honda after getting out of Kia showroom, it looks as if you are inspecting Suzukis, particularly when it comes to Honda City or BR-V. The quality & fit and finish of Kia vehicles is far superior than the locally built Hondas standing in the adjacent showroom.
Kia has a strong chance to shake up our market with an exciting range of vehicles. However the success depends a lot on the price and after sales service the company is going to provide, and more importantly if Kia is willing to introduce a product that rivals the Big 3. With a competitive price tag backed by proper after sales support, Kia will surely become successful in our market triggering a healthy competition.