A REAL SURPRISE PACKAGE
CERATO S HAS IMPRESSIVE FEATURES AT A LOW COST
KIA has the Power to Surprise.
It says so in embossed lettering on the faux leather cover of the owner's instruction manual, a publication of Biblical proportions.
But we were driving a Cerato S and the instruction manual was for a Sorento. That was quite a surprise. We opened the big book anyway, and found it was printed in . . . Russian.
There were several more surprises, but they were all of a rather more positive nature.
The Cerato comes in several models, but the one we're looking at here is the entry-level model, the S, which you can drive away for just $19,990. That's a surprise too. Here's another: That price is for the six-speed manual, but ask nicely and you can have automatic transmission for free.
That said, the manual is a delightful gearbox, and it certainly adds pleasure to the drive.
There are quite a few of the shapely new Ceratos to choose from – the S, S Premium, Si and SLi – but the base one is a pretty impressive package and we reckon its the best value.
Standard fare includes desirable items such as 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows, cruise control, a 3.5-inch TFT display, projector headlights, keyless entry, and front and rear parking sensors.
But if you really want a satnav system, auto-on lights, reversing camera and a fancy screen on the dash, you can get it all in a $500 pack.
It's a very attractive car, looking more Euro than Asian with its aero snoot and mean sweptback headlights with a pair of foggies tucked into the lower edge of the grille, and it has ample space for passengers plus a decent-sized boot.
It has a 385litre capacity, but you can whack the 60:40 split rear seats flat to expand it to 657l.
The car is powered by a 112kW/192Nm 2.0litre, fourcylinder petrol engine that gives it good performance and economy. Zero to 100km/h takes about 8.0seconds and we recorded an average 7.0litres/ 100km on our usual test route.
Kia has long been a major client of suspension guru Graeme Gambold, who operates from a secret location in New Zealand, and the Ceratos for our market have a stiffer but still compliant set-up tuned for Australian roads, plus a quicker steering ratio. So buyers get a fine-handling, comfy car that's not only good looking, but also great to drive.
Safety gear is also good, with six airbags, and front and rear parking sensors and a five-star rating.
The car also has a best-inthe-business seven year warranty and needs (capped price) servicing only every 12 months or 15,000km.
Verdict: A pleasant surprise. But be sure to check the glovebox when you buy yours to ensure the owner's manual is in a language you're familiar with. Nazdarovya!
Kia's Cerato S has film star looks, great engineering and economy at a surprising price.