Easily Kia’s biggest-seller, the Cerato sits in fourth-place in the ultra-competitive 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 headline-grabbing 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 2.0-litre 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 16-inch 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The engine is unchanged from the superseded Kia sedan, four-cylinder 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol with peak power of 112 kW at 6200 rpm and a handy 192 Nm of torque at 4000 revs.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 six-speed 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 hundred kilometres, than the manual at 7.6 litres per hundred.
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 180 cm 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 4000 rpm. 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 self-shifter it might be worthwhile to find some hilly terrain during your test drive.
We averaged 8.2 L/100 km during our week behind the wheel which is just 0.8 L/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 mini-Stinger looks stands out as an ideal first car for a newly-qualified young driver.
AT A GLANCE
S 2.0-litre four-door sedan: $20,990 (manual), $22,490 (automatic)
Sport 2.0-litre four-door sedan: $25,790 (automatic)
Sport+ 2.0-litre four-door sedan: $28,290 (automatic)
Note: These are driveaway prices and include all government and dealer delivery charges.
SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Cerato 2.0-litre four-door sedan)
Capacity: 1.999 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 112 kW @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 192 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 167 g/km
DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4640 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1800 mm
Height: 1440 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplies
Kerb Mass: 1320 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres
NEW MERCEDES-AMG C 43 IS A VERSATILE PEFORMANCE SPORTS MACHINE
By ALISTAIR KENNEDY, Marque Motoring
CAPTION: The elegant new Mercedes-AMG C 43.
Mercedes-AMG has launched a major upgrade to its C 43 and C 63 sports models to align with that of the standard Mercedes-Benz C-Class. While the new models have been rather modestly described as a facelift with around half of its 13,000 parts replaced it is certainly significant.
As with the Benz C-Class models (C 200, C220d and C 300) the AMG C 43 and C 63 are available in four body styles: sedan, wagon, coupe and cabriolet with prices ranging from $107,900 for a C 43 sedan to $182,900 for a C 63 S Cabriolet. Dealer and government charges, included Luxury Car Tax on all models, need to be added.
The external facelift of the C 43 includes a new twin-louvre matte-silver AMG grille, new sculpted front and rear aprons, Multibeam LED headlights and 19-inch AMG alloy wheels that, interestingly, are optimised to improve the car’s aerodynamics. A panoramic glass sliding sunroof
Inside there’s a new generation AMG flat-bottom steering wheel design with Nappa leather trim and integrated touchpads to control the instrument cluster, infotainment system and drive modes. The dashboard is now fully digital.
Rear headroom in the C 43 sedan that we drove may prove marginal for tall passengers due to the sunroof which fortunately doesn’t restrict front headroom to any great extent. Legroom in the back is reasonable although some compromising may be necessary at times.
Mercedes-AMG C 43 is powered by a 3.0-litre direct-injection bi-turbo petrol engine with outputs of 287 kilowatts and 520 Newton metres.
It’s mated to the AMG Speedshift TCT nine-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels with torque distribution of 30 per cent front and 70 per cent rear.
The C 63 S which is due to arrive here in January 2019 has a 4.0-litre V8 direct-injection bi-turbo petrol that peaks at 375 kW and 700 Nm. More on that AMG range topper when it get here.
In addition to the standard safety features across the C-Class range (nine airbags; enhanced ABS brakes; Blind Spot Assist; tyre pressure warning; and Pre-Safe crash anticipatory system) the AMG C 43 gets Driving Assistance Package Plus that includes Active Distance Assist; Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function; Evasive Steering Assist; Active Blind Spot Assist; Active Lane Keeping Assist and Pre-Safe Plus.
There is also a 360-degree camera, sports braking system with perforated front brake discs and Anti-Theft Alarm with tow-away protection and an interior surveillance system.
The standard Night Package uses the Multibeam LED headlights to calculate the precise lighting conditions required and includes Ultra Range high beam which can illuminate the road ahead to a distance of 650 metres. Our launch test drive was during daylight hours only but we’re looking forward to taking the C 43 for doing some night driving when we get the car for our normal extended test.
The Mercedes Comand infotainment system uses a 10.25-inch media display that can be customised to three themes. The definition on the media screen is sharp and clear. It’s not a touchscreen but is managed either by a Comand rotary dial on the centre console or through the steering wheel controls.
There also a 12.3-inch digital instrument display behind the steering wheel that can be customised with three different colours and styles. It too can be controlled via the steering wheel rollers and buttons.
The media system allows access to both Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The quality of sound from the Burmester surround-sound audio system is impressive. There is also DAB+ digital radio although once clear of the Melbourne outskirts we weren’t able to get a decent signal when we attempted to do so. Nothing new there, though.
Entry and exit is relatively easy for a fairly low-slung car and the front sports seats support very well without being overly aggressive in their bolsters. Steering wheel adjustment is also powered. Both front seats have a memory function that also adjusts the side mirrors to suit the driver.
We drove a C 43 Estate wagon from Melbourne to the far north of Victoria. There’s a wonderful crackling exhaust note sound at take-off which is piped inside through a sound enhancer, such is the efficiency of the car’s insulation.
Driving high-performance cars on Australian roads can be extremely frustrating with our heavily-policed too-low speed limits meaning that we can rarely drive them in the manner for which they were designed. Not that it seems to stop local enthusiasts who are the biggest buyers of AMG models in the world when taken as a percentage of all Mercedes-Benz sales.
We appreciated the car’s head-up display which showed both the car’s current speed and the speed limit using either satellite navigation or, in the case of a number of road work sections, Traffic Sign Assist that uses a windscreen-mounted camera to picked up the 40 km/h speed limit signs.
The car’s Dynamic Select drive system has four modes, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Slippery which vary the steering, engine response and gear shifts according to conditions and driver preference.
We found the steering in Comfort mode lighter than we prefer so we spent most of our time with the sharper feel from Sport with the occasional foray into Sport+.
The AMG Speedshift nine-speed automatic transmission lives up to its name with multiple downshifts delivering fast short bursts of power. The pretend double-declutch function in the Sport and Sport+ modes adds even more to the driving experience.
Mercedes-AMG C 43 is a superb sports machine that combines elegant styling, four-door convenience, high quality cruising ability and serious performance credentials. Well worth adding to your short list of performance street cars.
AMG C 43 Sedan: $107,900
AMG C 43 Estate: $110,400
AMG C 43 Coupe: $111,900
AMG C 43 Convertible: $124,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-AMG dealer for drive-away prices.