Sen­si­ble Cer­ato closes gap on ri­vals

Geraldton Guardian - - MOTORING - Alistair Kennedy

Eas­ily Kia’s big­gest seller, the Cer­ato sits in fourth place in the ul­tra­com­pet­i­tive small-medium seg­ment hav­ing grad­u­ally eroded sales from the peren­nial big-three of Toy­ota Corolla, Mazda3 and Hyundai i30.

Kia's seven-year un­lim­ited dis­tance war­ranty is prov­ing a mas­ter­stroke in that it is at­tract­ing new buy­ers who may have had any lin­ger­ing doubts about the qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity of Korean cars.

The third-gen­er­a­tion, Kia Cer­ato sedan ar­rived here in June 2018 with the hatch­back due to­wards the end of the year. The big­gest change is styling, with more than a hint of the looks of Kia’s head­line­grab­bing Stinger sedan. It has a wide grille, sculpted bon­net and coupe-like roofline.

Three mod­els are of­fered: S, Sport and Sport+. Don’t get too ex­cited about the use of the Sport name, all three get the same 2.0litre petrol en­gine with the same out­puts, in­deed the S is the only one to get the op­tion of a man­ual gear­box.

Sport and Sport+ do get 17-inch al­loy wheels while the S has 16inch steels.

Value for money con­tin­ues to be a ma­jor fea­ture of the new Kia Cer­ato sedan, with prices (all drive­away) rang­ing from just $19,990 for the S six-speed man­ual, to $26,190 for the Sport+ au­to­matic.

The en­gine is un­changed from the su­per­seded Kia sedan, four-cylin­der 2.0-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated petrol with peak power of 112 kW at 6200rpm and a handy 192Nm of torque at 4000 revs. Cer­ato S is the only vari­ant to get the op­tion of a man­ual gear­box, with six speeds.

All three mod­els get a new sixspeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion that is part of the new Kia Drive Mode Se­lect (DMS) sys­tem which gives three drive modes (Sport, Eco and Nor­mal that mod­i­fies en­gine and steer­ing be­hav­iour.

In a sign of the times the au­to­matic is more fuel ef­fi­cient, 7.4 litres per 100km, than the man­ual at 7.6 litres.

In­te­rior space is typ­i­cal of oth­ers

in its class, that is with­out suf­fi­cient rear legroom to avoid ad­just­ment of the front seats.

Typ­i­cally Cer­ato will be ap­peal­ing to fam­i­lies with small chil­dren, some­thing it han­dles with ease.

There are no rear head­room prob­lems for any­one un­der 180cm de­spite the slop­ing roofline.

Kia Cer­ato S and Sport get cloth trim seats with dif­fer­ent pat­terns,

Sport+ has leather ap­point­ments.

Sport+ also has a slid­ing con­sole arm­rest func­tion and elec­tric fold­ing door mir­rors. There’s plenty of good-sized stor­age spa­ces.

Boot ca­pac­ity is an im­pres­sive

502 litres with a wide aper­ture that makes for easy ac­cess and stor­age. All mod­els get a steel space­saver spare wheel.

Cer­ato’s dash­board is sen­si­bly de­signed with the right com­bi­na­tion of large, well-placed but­tons and knobs for the most com­mon func­tions and large tabs on the

8-inch colour touch­screen.

All can be ac­cessed with a min­i­mum of at­ten­tion be­ing taken from the road ahead.

All Cer­ato grades have Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto as stan­dard. Sport and Sport+ have satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion with SUNA traf­fic in­for­ma­tion.

There’s a sin­gle USB port that sits at the bot­tom of the dash­board ad­ja­cent to the phone stor­age re­cess.

The al­ready high level of stan­dard safety fea­tures in the pre­vi­ous Cer­ato has been in­creased with

the ad­di­tion of au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing (AEB), for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing sys­tem and front and rear park­ing sen­sors.

These join ABS brakes with elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion and brake as­sist; emer­gency stop signal; six airbags; sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol; hill start as­sist; lane keep as­sist; driver at­ten­tion alert; rear view cam­era; and IsoFix an­chor points at the outer rear seats.

Cer­ato Sport+ adds pedes­trian and cy­clist avoid­ance to the AEB sys­tem as well as smart cruise con­trol.

These fea­tures are avail­able in the au­to­matic S and Sport mod­els as part of a $1000 Safety Pack that also in­cludes blindspot de­tec­tion and rear cross traf­fic alert. A $500 Safety Pack adds these last two fea­tures to the Sport+.

The body has been strength­ened with the use of high-strength steel in a num­ber of ar­eas while con­sid­er­able work has gone into stiff­en­ing it up to re­duce noise, vi­bra­tion and harsh­ness, as well as to give the sus­pen­sion a solid plat­form on which to work.

Our test car was the range top­ping Cer­ato Sport+ auto with the $500 Safety Pack mean­ing that it has the full range of avail­able safety fea­tures.

As men­tioned pre­vi­ously the “sport” in the name is a bit of a mis­nomer but Kia is cer­tainly not the first man­u­fac­turer to use this mar­ket­ing ploy.

Rather, Cer­ato is a sen­si­ble ur­ban com­muter.

Kia is well-known for the em­pha­sis that it places on lo­cal in­put into tun­ing the sus­pen­sion of its ve­hi­cles and it shows in the re­fined ride and han­dling of the Cer­ato. It’s just firm enough but with­out any sig­nif­i­cant loss of com­fort and is im­pres­sively sharp through cor­ners.

A fair bit of work went into re­duc­ing the amount of road noise en­ter­ing the cabin. The im­prove­ment was no­tice­able dur­ing the mo­tor­way sec­tion of our test and while less so on the coarse-chip ru­ral roads it is still up there with the qui­etest in its class.

Steer­ing is well-weighted if just a tad lighter than we pre­fer.

There’s enough torque for most con­di­tions al­though it doesn’t peak un­til a rather high 4000rpm. The new six-speed trans­mis­sion changes smoothly al­though, from our drive of the man­ual at the Cer­ato launch ear­lier this year, we did find it nec­es­sary to drop down to lower gears more of­ten than we’d ex­pected. So if you’re look­ing at a self­shifter it might be worth­while to find some hilly ter­rain dur­ing your test drive.

We av­er­aged 8.2 L/100km dur­ing our week be­hind the wheel which is just 0.8L/100 above the listed num­ber.

With prices start­ing at $20,990 drive­away Kia Cer­ato rates highly for the bud­get-con­scious buyer. It’s a classy look­ing car with ex­cel­lent safety cre­den­tials, ca­pa­ble per­for­mance and a seven-year un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre war­ranty.

Top up that en­try-level price with the $1000 Safety Pack and the man­ual Cer­ato S with its miniStinger looks stands out as an ideal first car for a newly qual­i­fied young driver.

The new Kia Cer­ato sedan has sleek lines that take many cues from the mar­que’s big-sell­ing Stinger. Pic­tures: War­ren Kirby

The Cer­ato’s boot ca­pac­ity is an im­pres­sive 502 litres with a wide aper­ture for easy ac­cess.

The Cer­ato’s dash­board is sen­si­bly de­signed and ac­ces­si­ble.

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