Pinjarra Murray Times - - DRIVEWAY - Craig Duff

THE Cer­ato sedan launch this month rates as the most im­por­tant on the cal­en­dar for Kia, which is try­ing to main­tain the drive-away start­ing price of $19,990 on its pop­u­lar small car.

The carry-over 2.0-litre four-cylin­der en­gine is good for 112kW/192Nm and is backed by six-speed man­ual and au­to­matic trans­mis­sions.

What is new – and more ex­pen­sive – is the big­ger body and im­proved in­fo­tain­ment and safety tech.

This Cer­ato has been stretched to lib­er­ate cabin space and al­low for the Stinger-es­que sculpted long bon­net.

It’s slightly wider and higher and boot space in­creases to 430L. In­side there’s an eight­inch touch­screen, smart­phone mir­ror­ing and, de­pend­ing on spec, wire­less smart­phone charg­ing.

All ver­sions get au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing and safety gear should ex­tend to ac­tive cruise con­trol, blindspot alert and lane-keep as­sist. MAZDA6

Up­dates should en­hance the mid-sizer’s rep­u­ta­tion as a good-look­ing car.

The ex­te­rior styling looks more re­solved and the im­proved cabin treat­ment gives the sedan a sub­tle but stylish makeover.

Don’t ex­pect the cur­rent $32,490 start­ing price to stand when the cars hit deal­er­ships next month. Along with the looks, Mazda has boosted the kit across the range in re­sponse to cus­tomers want­ing higher-spec­i­fied cars.

As a re­sult, all Maz­da6s will have a six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing and adap­tive cruise con­trol.

The full safety suite will be stan­dard on top-spec ver­sions, which will also use the 2.5-litre four-cylin­der turbo from the CX-9 SUV, in which it is good for 170kW/420Nm.

The 2.5 turbo will join the ex­ist­ing 2.2-litre turbo diesel and nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 2.5litre petrol en­gine, which now has cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion un­der light throt­tle loads.

Top-spec Atenza ver­sions are tipped to go close to $50,000 but will in­clude traf­fic sign recog­ni­tion, air­con­di­tioned seats trimmed in leather, 19inch al­loys, tim­ber high­lights and a cus­tomis­able 7.0-inch dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play. FORD MUS­TANG Spec­i­fi­ca­tion and prices are up for the lat­est it­er­a­tion of the wildly pop­u­lar pony car.

En­try to the club is $49,990 for the four-cylin­der man­ual while V8 prices now start at $62,990 and top out at $74,800 for the con­vert­ible; the good news for V8 fans is the facelift brings more than just added bling.

The 5.0-litre gets a boost of 33kW/26Nm and now pumps 339kW/556Nm to the rear wheels via a 10-speed au­to­matic. The 2.3-litre four-cylin­der turbo keeps power at 224kW but torque in­creases by 9Nm to 441Nn.

All ver­sions pick up re­vised sus­pen­sion, with adap­tive dampers a $2750 op­tion.

LED lamps are fit­ted all­round and the Mus­tang now uses a 12.3-inch dig­i­tal driver’s dis­play and eight-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen.

Ford has also fit­ted new ac­tive safety soft­ware, in­clud­ing au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing with pedes­trian de­tec­tion, lane-keep­ing as­sist and adap­tive cruise con­trol.

The ad­di­tions earned the sports car an ex­tra safety star: to three out of five.

The Kia Cer­ato sedan launches this month.

Ford Mus­tang.

The Mazda 6.

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