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Kia Cerato has grown up, presenting a mature package for the small car buyer.
Report: Greg Hill.
Aggressive pricing in the budget-focused small car market has made Cerato the top-selling model for Kia over the past few years, so the company needed to make sure that the latest, third-generation Cerato sedan delivered the same value for money. Which it has – as well as raising the bar for style, technology, quality, refinement and safety.
The all-new Cerato has styling cues taken from the eye-catching Stinger. Its slightly bigger body, on the same 2700-millimetre wheelbase as the previous version, is stronger and more rigid. Interior space is now among the best in the class, with extra leg room, head room and shoulder width. The boot opening is bigger, and the 60/40-split rear seat folds flat to extend load space.
Still leading the charge is the S model, with the six-speed manual version at an attractive $19,990 drive-away. The six-speed automatic is another $1500. Well equipped for a base model, both in terms of safety and convenience features, the S includes autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, driver-attention alert, tyre-pressure monitoring and a rear-view camera, as well as front and rear parking sensors. An eight-inch touch-screen infotainment display features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition, Bluetooth and digital radio.
Kia has shaken the cheap and cheerful tag to deliver cabin presentation and build quality that’s among the best.
Badging on the mid and top-spec models has changed to Sport (our test car) and Sport+. These are auto only, with the Sport expected to be the top seller at $23,690. As well as being better dressed, with 17-inch alloy wheels, higher-grade cloth seats and a premium steering wheel, the Sport also gets satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic and 10 years’ Mapcare.
The top-spec Sport+, at $26,190 drive-away, brings AEB Fusion II (pedestrian and cyclist recognition), advanced smart cruise control, LED daytime running lights, smart key and push-button start, leather seats, automatic-folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control and rear air vents. More safety features for the various models are available in two option packs.
On the road, Cerato does not set any new class standards but has clearly moved up a few rungs.
Kia has shaken the cheap and cheerful tag to deliver cabin presentation and build quality that’s among the best. There are still a few hard plastic trim fittings but overall it has more of a premium look and feel than might be expected in a car of its price. For the driver it is a very neat, easy-to-use layout with large, clear instruments and well-positioned switches. Seating is comfortable and has a good range of adjustments.
On the road, Cerato does not set any new class standards but has clearly moved up a few rungs. The 2.0-litre multi-point fuel-injected petrol engine is carried over from the previous model, and while not the most technically sophisticated unit in Kia’s stable, its output of 112kW and 192Nm is around the class average, and Cerato does everything expected from a car of this type, and with ease.
The result is a well-balanced package for easy everyday use that has surefooted handling and a comfortable, quieter ride.
To help compensate for the bigger body’s extra weight and keep fuel consumption down, there was some minor tweaking to the transmissions, and a Smart mode was added to Kia’s Drive Select system on automatic models. Official fuel consumption for the auto sedan is 7.4L/100km, which is 0.2L more than the previous model and noticeably higher than many of its peers. On test, our Cerato Sport averaged 8.2L/100km. Some engine noise can be heard at times, when it’s working hard.
The new model’s stiffer body, revised suspension mounting points, and upgraded steering gave Kia’s local engineering team a good start in their usual fine-tuning for Australian road conditions. The result is a well-balanced package for easy everyday use that has surefooted handling and a comfortable, quieter ride. Our main criticism is that the lane-keep assistant can be a touch aggressive.
Rounding out the deal, Kia’s lengthy seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and seven-year roadside assistance package adds to Cerato’s value for money.
A hatchback version, which traditionally has been the more popular body configuration, is due later this year.
RACV, the provider of Victoria's most trusted car insurance
Cerato continues to be a value-for-money proposition but a new-found maturity, with improved style, quality, safety features and on-road ability, has strengthened its case as a serious contender in the small car class. While Kia’s customer support program adds to the appeal, fuel consumption is a little on the high side.
KIA CERATO SPORT SEDAN
$19,990-$26,190 drive-away. Premium paint: $520.
1999cc 4cyl petrol engine. Front-wheel drive. 6spd auto. 112kW@6200rpm, 192Nm@4000rpm.
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