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A Carnival trumps the circus

A Carnival trumps the circus

With the frenzy of the looming May 2022 elections building up as the candidates’ national campaigns kick in, we can say the political circus is in town.

But so is the all-new Kia Carnival.

Now why would I associate Kia Philippines’ newest executive offering of a grand utility vehicle (GUV) to the presidential campaigns? It just makes sense, really, if you read on.

I won’t be mentioning names so I won’t be accused of being politically biased. I came across the Facebook page of a candidate for vice president who posted a picture of his sleeping wife accompanying him for a campaign sortie somewhere up north. With the image was the status: “Kawawa naman si (name of wife). Napagod at napuyat kagabi sa kaka-alaga sa akin. Walang tulog … (My poor wife, exhausted from looking after me. She hasn’t had enough sleep”.)

Indeed, for the next 75 days or so, candidates for the presidency, vice presidency, and the senate, as well as their families and the rest of their entourage, will experience more of such in the campaign trail in the hopes of having a fighting chance for their desired posts. That’s why it’s not enough that the candidates and their managers move around in a vehicle that’s merely in good running condition, or that can squeeze in the most number of people.

They have to be seen in a ride that exudes an image of both the loftiness and weight of the positions they hope to occupy in the executive and legislative branches of government. And yes, the vehicles must be comfortable, too, because days upon days of being inside a vehicle that isn’t built for comfort will wear anyone down.

That’s why, when Kia Philippines launched on Feb. 17 its so-called grand utility vehicle in the form of the all-new Carnival, and when it was described as having the roominess of an MPV with SUV sensibilities, I instantly knew that this vehicle could very well be fit for such candidates. I just needed to verify one important detail before making that definite conclusion. After a short call to AC Motors’ Product Strategy and Planning Head Josh Altarejos, it was confirmed that the all-new Carnival’s SX variant has a dual sunroof which can open either separately or simultaneously. Perfect.

Imagine the presidential candidate waving from the front sunroof, while his (or her) running mate is doing his (or her) own thing from the rear one. They both get the maximum 360-degree public exposure, which handily beats just waving from the open side of a van anytime. They would have to stand on the second row seats, though, for their upper bodies to be completely visible above the Carnival’s roof.

Although Altarejos said that using the Carnival as a campaign vehicle “could work”, Kia Philippines itself states that time will tell if the candidates do see such an opportunity with the vehicle. “The all-new Carnival is ideal for businessmen and corporate executives with families, (as it) combines premium looks with luxury features while remaining uncompromising in comfort, convenience and space. We just launched (the vehicle), and we will find out from the market response if there’s a demand for it for other uses and requirements,” read its official statement.

Continuing my “what-ifs” with the Carnival, I would say that this GUV also offers safety features and protection commensurate with the VIP status of its occupants. Apart from the standard safety features, the SX variant has the forward collision avoidance assist (protection against frontal collisions) and the rear cross traffic alert that makes backing maneuvers secure. It also features the lane keep and following assist that keeps the moving vehicle in lane by automatically adjusting steering with the help of lane marker sensors.

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There are numerous other technology and comfort features of the new Carnival that’s advantageous for the driver and six passengers. For the SX variant, second row leather business class relaxation seats (which I hope are synthetic and not genuine animal skin) offer cooling and heating functions. Sunshade blinds, and a 3-zone automatic climate control function are standard across all variants.

The Carnival boasts of the new SmartStream 2.2 VGT CRDi engine, while the 8-speed automatic transmission provides efficient power. An 8-inch touchscreen audio reinforced with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity allows hand-free accessibility with voice control. There are USB ports and a wireless mobile phone charger (available for the SX) along with a drive mode select and electronic parking brake for a smoother drive.

The Carnival’s elegance is understated. It’s stately, not flashy—a form that would suit a politician ambitious enough to aim for the top, yet ready, too, to roll up the sleeves and reach out directly to every individual for their valued votes.

The Carnival’s SRP is quite competitive. The EX 8AT variant, which will be available this March, goes for P2.540 million for the Astra Blue and P2.550 million for pearl colors, P2.988 million (for the SX variant) for the Astra Blue and P2.998 million for pearl colors.

For candidates of the highest leadership positions in the country, that’s a small price to pay for a grand measure of peace, quiet, and comfort amid the raucous and dizzying campaign circus.