Blackbal Media

It's been a while since I spent any time in a Kia. So when I discovered that the only car available to me for a 500-mile round trip to Manchester was our long-term Carens, you could say I was just a little bit grumpy.

Ok, I had seen the Carens in the car park - yes it looked great from the outside (sorry Daljinder, it looks great in white) - but I could picture the cheap Korean plastic of the interior and it was already crossing my mind whether or not I could claim back on my expenses the cost of the inevitable chiropractor sessions I would surely need to endure after the trip.

How wrong could I have been?

Motorway driving was effortless, road noise was minimal, and I suspect that would have been further reduced If I had not been too lazy to remove the roof rack.

As for the cheap plastic, what was I thinking? The interior is of genuine quality, and puts to shame some of it's competitors. Plus, the seats were surprisingly plush and comfortable.

Heated seats and steering wheel were also much appreciated by this confirmed Southerner - who forgot to take a coat up North.

You won't feel wanting when it comes to space in the Kia, either. The Carens should be on anyone's shortlist if they are looking to invest in a new family car. The future Mrs Culver and I are seriously considering it when we upgrade later this year.

What I can say for sure, is that if I have to endure the M6 or any other long journey in the near future, I will be reaching for the keys to our Carens without a second thought.

The knowledge

Model: Kia Carens '3' 1.7 CRDi manual ISG
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: 800