Koreans hatch a new plan
Motor News attended the launch of the latest addition to the Kia range
KIA Motors SA has added a hatch version to the Cerato line-up to take on the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Mazda 3, and the Hyundai i30. Launched in 2009 in sedan body form, the Cerato range in general and the sporty Koup in particular left us reasonably impressed by what they had on offer including good build quality, a host of standard equipment, and a strong value for money proposition.
So, then, the new hatch succinctly treads in the tyre tracks of its sedan and Koup siblings as it is essentially a sedan with its boot lopped off. In fact both the wheelbase and track mirror those of the sedan. From a styling perspective, it certainly has that Eurocentric design about it with very tidy and unoffending design lines. However, I would be reluctant to say that it is the best-looking model in the range as that accolade unequivocally goes to the Koup.
Interestingly though the company pitches the hatch model at the young family type who wants a stylish hatch without compromising practicality. In that regard they certainly have a valid point since both the Koup and Pro C’eed models are unashamedly sporty twoand three-door models.
“The latest Cerato Hatch is designed to appeal especially to those consumers with young families who prefer a hatch for its style and enhanced practicality,” says David Sieff, national marketing manager, Kia Motors SA.
“The availability of this body style for our C-segment model will enable Kia dealers to meet the needs of a broader range of customers. This derivative will boost total Cerato sales to an even higher level in our local market, with a view to accelerating market share in this segment,” says Sieff.
There are two engine derivatives available; the 1.6l EX with 91kW at 6 300r/min and 156Nm at 4 200r/min. Then there is the 2.0l SX making 115kW at 6 200r/min and 194Nm at 4 300r/min. Both models are offered in either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. The said transmission is now also available in the Koup variant, which has had to make do with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox previously.
Shoe-wise the 1.6l is shod with a 205/55/16 wheel and tyre combo while the 2.0l has 215/45/17 profile tyres. Boot space measures a spacious — by hatchback standards — 550l. Standard equipment includes leather upholstery in the top model, USB and iPod connectivity, dual front, side and curtain airbags and ABS with EBD.
We spent our launch drive in the flagship 2.0l SX model in manual guise which, as is expected, drives much like its sedan and Koup siblings. While the engine is reasonably perky, bar a slight hiatus when changing up at high revs, that featherlight electric steering remains, which is not the best. It is quite vague in the straight ahead position and the slightest tug in either direction has no feedback.
Nonetheless, it is an honest and sturdy vehicle and is reasonably priced, too. Whether it will outsell its siblings is anyone’s guess, but my hunch is that the Koup will remain much more in demand.
Having said that it would seem that Kia as a brand has a conundrum of demand outstripping supply. As it stands there is quite a lead time between ordering and taking delivery of your vehicle which, says Ray Levin, CEO of Kia Motors SA, can be up to six or eight months in some instances.
The Cerato, according to Levin, remains the best-selling model with 35 917 units sold globally in the first quarter of 2011. The worldwide sales increase for the Kia brand is said to be about 20%.
A host of new models will find their way to our shores this year. The onslaught will begin with the new Picanto and Sedona VQ (which will feature the 2.2l diesel from the Sorento) in July, while the new Rio hatch and sedan can be expected in August. The stylish Optima K5 sedan — likely to be called Magentis locally — is earmarked for November. In the interim all Kia dealerships will undergo a revamp of sorts to bring them in line with the global corporate identity cube theme, starting with Randburg and rolling out to other regions in SA.
1.6 EX R185 995 1.6 EX Auto R195 995 2.0 SX R205 995 2.0 SX Auto R215 995 All models come with a fouryear/90 000km service plan and a five-year/100 000km warranty.
TRUE BLUE: The Kia Cerato hatch, left, is aiming to take on some established rivals. Items such as that rear diffuser are intended to provide a slightly sporty look, top. The interior is the same as that in the sedan, above.
Kia unveiled the new Rio in Shanghai this week, due in SA in August.