Sensible Cerato closes gap on rivals
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The engine is unchanged from the superseded Kia sedan, four-cylinder 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol with peak power of 112 kW at 6200rpm and a handy 192Nm of torque at 4000 revs.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.