Road test: Kia Cerato GT Hatch 2019 review

A red Kia Cerato GT Hatch in motion

Greg Hill

Posted May 24, 2019


Greg Hill tests the sporty Kia Cerato GT hatch.

Starting from a solid foundation with the third-generation Cerato five-door hatch, which was introduced here in late 2018, Kia has pepped up the performance and sharpened the dynamics to create a range-topping GT variant that is practical and fun to drive.  

The GT Hatch is closely related to Hyundai’s i30 N-Line. While the two share many major components, each company has injected a degree of individual style and character into its own vehicle.

Available in both hatchback and sedan form, the Cerato GT is dressed to impress with a subtle but stylish body kit. At a competitive $31,990 drive away for both hatch and sedan, the GT is not quite a price-leader in the current warm hatch brigade, but a generous kit of standard equipment justifies the extra few dollars. The GT has a five-star ANCAP rating and a comprehensive package of advanced safety features.

Thumbs up

The GT is well equipped and a strong all-round performer with superb on-road dynamics.

Thumbs down

The ride is noticeably firm, and the spare wheel is only a space-saver.

 


Inside, the GT has a premium sporting look and feel, but there are still a few hard-plastic trim fittings. The driver has a very neat, easy-to-use layout with large, clear instruments and the switches all logically positioned. The mildly contoured sports-style leather-appointed front seats are supportive, with heating and ventilation adding to the comfort.

Cerato has grown to be one of the roomier small hatchbacks on the market. Occupants in the front are well catered for but large adults will find there is still not abundant space in the rear.

Designed to be an enjoyable, strong-performing driver’s car, rather than a hard-edged, race-focused beast, the GT is powered by a 150kW, four-cylinder, 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo-charged petrol engine that drives the front wheels via a seven-speed DCT-style (dual clutch transmission) automatic. A conventional manual transmission is not available.

When called upon, acceleration is rapid, while selecting sports mode sharpens up the gear changes and steering feel. Just as impressive, though, is the responsiveness and driving ease around town, thanks to the performance flexibility provided by a broad spread of strong low to mid-range torque and well-matched gearing. Maximum torque of 265Nm is reached at 1500rpm and maintained through to 4500rpm. To Kia’s credit, the slight hesitation on take-off that has plagued other manufacturers with turbo engine and DCT combinations was not evident in any of the Cerato GTs we drove at the launch and on this test. 

Unlike many performance-focused models, the GT runs on standard 91 RON petrol rather than the more expensive premium grades. With any sporty car, the fuel consumption will depend on the type of use. Official ADR consumption for the Cerato GT is a respectable 6.8L/100km. Over a week’s driving, our test car averaged 8.3L/100km, while on the GT model launch, where a few cars were driven quite enthusiastically, we saw much higher fuel readings on the trip computers.   

Noise levels, too, vary depending on the type of use. In normal relaxed operation, the cabin is a quiet place. When driving more enthusiastically, a pleasing sporting sound is artificially introduced via an electronic noise enhancer.

 

A red Kia Cerato GT Hatch driving on a curvy road


Where the Cerato GT really shines, though, is in its superb handling and general on-road dynamics. To match the higher engine output, the GT get a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension set-up and bigger front brakes. Kia’s local engineers have made good use of the third-generation Cerato’s stiffer body and done an outstanding job fine-tuning steering and suspension to suit Australian road conditions.  

Regardless of whether the car is driven sedately around suburban streets or punted along on a winding mountain road, the handling always feels composed. It’s well balanced, agile and surefooted with plenty of cornering grip, while the steering is precise and appropriately weighted. The ride is on the firm side, which won’t be to everyone’s liking, but it’s in character with the car’s sporting nature.

Kia’s lengthy seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, along with capped-price servicing scheduled every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, provides peace of mind for the buyer.

 


The verdict

The new GT variant tops off Kia's impressive Cerato range nicely. It has a good dose of sporting ability and driving enjoyment but remains civilised enough for every day use.

Kia Cerato GT Hatch

Price

Price as tested: $31,990 drive away
Model range: $19,990 to $31,990
Premium paint: $520

Drivetrain

1.6-litre turbo automatic, seven-speed DCT, front-wheel drive
Power: 150kW@6000rpm
Torque: 265Nm@1500 to 4500rpm

Wheels

225/40Z R18, temporary-use spare

Fuel

91 RON petrol, 50-litre tank
Consumption: 8.3 litres/100km (RACV test), 6.8 litres/100km (government test)
Emissions: 158g/km

Standard safety

Five-star ANCAP rating, six airbags, autonomous emergency braking (pedestrian and cycle recognition), forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, driver attention alert warning, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot detection.

Standard features

Smart cruise control and speed limiter, tyre-pressure monitoring, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines, satellite navigation, front and rear parking sensors and wireless phone charging (for compatible phone).

Warranty/services

84 months/unlimited-kilometres warranty, 12 months/15,000 kilometres services


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