Our transport to Norfolk was the all-new Kia Carens, a people-carrier, now in its third generation.
The Carens first appeared in the UK at the turn of the century, but this new model is very different from its predecessors. For starters, with the demise of the much larger Kia Sedona, it’s now a seven-seater. The middle row has three individual sliding and reclining chairs, plus there are another two slightly smaller ‘occasional’ seats in the back for maximum practicality. All fold completely flat for greater versatility, although there’s precious little boot space if you have them upright.
With tray tables, cup holders and various storage areas, the Carens is well thought out. There are numerous other family-friendly features, but two are worth noting. One is the rollerblind-style parcel shelf.
As usual with our weekend trips, we take far more than we need and this often means the parcel shelf gets left at home. The result is a bootful of stuff that’s permanently on show, increasing the chances of a break-in. But Kia has cleverly created a special storage area for the parcel shelf under the Carens’ boot floor, meaning you’ve always got it with you.
The second bit of smart thinking is the front passenger seat. Its back tips completely horizontal, creating a huge area – dashboard to rearbumper – for long loads. With no surf boards for our trip it wasn’t required, but would make days out to flat-packed furniture retailers that much more bearable.
Fascinating facts: Kia roughly translates as ‘to rise up out of Asia’ in its home-market language of Korean. It’s apt. Two decades ago Kia was building dull cars bought by people who didn’t know better. Today it has a broad range of family-oriented models that are stylish, practical and desirable. Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty is the icing on the cake.
What the motoring press says…‘Competitively priced and well equipped, definitely one of the better mid-size MPVs.’ whatcar.com
‘It’s nicely laid out, there’s tonnes of space.’ topgear.com
‘The Carens is brought up to Kia’s now-familiar high standards of design, technology and build quality.’ carbuyer.co.uk
Model: 1.7-litre 114bhp diesel with 6-speed manual gearbox.
Trim level: mid-range ‘2’ grade.
Family friendly features: 7 seats, fold-flat interior, Isofix child-seat fixings, aux/ USB connections, children’s tray tables, rear conversation mirror, roof rails.
Euro NCAP safety rating: 5 stars.
Fuel economy: 60.1mpg.
CO2 emissions: 124g/km.
More information: kia.co.uk/new-cars
Driving to Norfolk: Widen your horizons is the motto of the north Norfolk coast, and it’s an appropriate one. Wherever you go – crabbing in Cromer, the Poppy Line steam railway, seal watching at Blakeney or fish and chips on Sheringham sea front – the relatively flat landscape means you’re always in a big-sky environment. The region’s wide, unspoilt beaches make it a perfect destination for a long weekend with the family.
Where to stay: We stayed in one of the holiday properties at Sedgeford Hall, which, with a heated indoor swimming pool, is ideal for family fun. The hall is just a few miles east of Hunstanton, aka Sunny Hunny, which has lots of traditional seafront amusements.
Activities: Sedgeford’s rural location means it’s perfect for family bike rides, but a trip to see the seals at Blakeney Pointwas on the cards for us. Boats run with the tide and, unfortunately, we missed the last one by minutes. We’ll certainly be going back. A stroll along a section of the Norfolk Coast Path, which runs 45 miles from Hunstanton to Cromer, worked up an appetite for lunch.
Eat: The Anchor Inn in Morston did the job perfectly – good-value, locally sourced grub.
Next stop was the endless beach at Holkham, which on a sunny summer weekend is packed from sand dunes tosea. It’s a good 15-minute walk to the shoreline when the tide is out, and with a blustery wind blowing, it was a fun, if bracing, affair.
The north Norfolk coast is a great destination for families who want an old-fashioned holiday. There are very few high-tech attractions, and the traditional pleasures of enjoying the outdoors are at the heart of its appeal.
More information: visitnorthnorfolk.com