Long term report: Kia Carens

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Kia Carens

For those of you who've been keeping track of our long-term Kia Carens reports, you'll know it's been the most well-travelled member of the office. For the past two months it's sunned itself on the beach in Lisbon before sunning itself on the beach in Barcelona.

Now, though, it's time to head back to the not-quite-so-glamorous beach in Gosport.

Fortunately for me, driving back to the UK by myself, it's good to know there's plenty of equipment to keep me amused on the long drive. After all, staying comfortable on a road trip makes all the difference between a good journey and one from hell.

Thankfully, there's a USB connector, meaning I don't have to put up with Iberian europop, and the sound system is pretty decent. So, during moments of fatigue, I can turn it into a mobile disco.

I do wish the radio had DAB, though, as sometimes even I can tire of my own euphoric dance collection.

It was especially noticeable when I got back to the UK and was trying to find out the latest on the World Cup, straining to hear the latest Luis Suarez scandal.

The seats are pretty comfortable, too, and without annoying passengers playing the heated seat game in plus-30 degree temps on the journey back, the 400-mile drive from Barcelona to Bilbao was a pleasant one.

Probably the most frustrating part of the journey, though, was trying to find my way to the ferry terminal at Bilbao. The sat-nav reminded me of ex-girlfriends insisting they knew the way, even to the point where I found myself surrounded by fish boxes and irate Spanish trawlermen yelling at me what I can only imagine was the Spanish version of 'get off my land'.

After a swift eight-point turn (the steering lock won't have many cabbies rushing to buy one), I managed to find my way back to the main roads and picked up some signs to get me back on track.

I think the clearest indication of how much a driver appreciates a car can be judged by their keenness to get back into it, especially after spending such a long time behind the wheel, in this case more than two months. The Carens does have a lot going for it. It's extremely practical and the fold-in-the-floor third row of seats makes it especially useful for growing families. The build quality is a major leap forward for Kia, speaking as someone who used to run a Sorento and Sportage, and it's extremely comfortable, too.

Having said that, I'll be honest – after two months of driving something that lacked quite a bit of spark behind the wheel, I was keen to get into something that was a bit more involving.

Author: Nigel Swan (@motoringnut)

The knowledge

Model: Kia Carens '3' 1.7 CRDi
Price: £23,895 (as tested)
Engine: 1.7-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Power: 134bhp, 330Nm
Max speed: 119mph
0-60mph: 10s
Emissions: 132g/km
Mileage this month: 2,145

This month's highlight

Sitting in comfort on the 400-mile drive from Barcelona to Bilbao