Kia has launched the third generation of its Cerato sedan. As with the previous model, the sedan variant has been released in advance of the bigger-selling hatch. However, this time the delay will be minimal with the five-door due within the next two or three months. The upgraded two-door coupe version, sold as the Kia Koup, will be released late in the year.
Ironically the Cerato launch came on the same day that GM-Holden announced significant job cuts at its Adelaide factory, primarily because its locally-made Cruze is struggling to compete against imported cars such as the Cerato because of the high value of the Australian dollar. Despite recent price cuts the entry-level Cruze is still $1500 dearer than the comparable Cerato in what is a very price-sensitive and intensely competitive market.
It’s also lighter by an average of 50 kilograms for reduced fuel consumption.
Although it’s classified as a small passenger car – along with 44 other models in what is a very crowded and competitive market segment – the Cerato is a genuine mid-sized family sedan. At 4.56 metres long it has enough legroom for four adults to sit comfortably, although it’s best if the rear occupants aren’t particularly tall because Cerato’s coupe-like styling does seriously reduce rear headroom.
The price of the entry-level Cerato S ($19,990 plus on-road costs) is only $600 more than the outgoing model but that’s not an apples-for-apples comparison because it now comes with a smaller engine with a new 1.8-litre (110 kW / 178 Nm) replacing the previous 2.0-litre (115 kW / 194 Nm) unit.
Although a diesel engine is available in some countries Kia Australia has no immediate plans to bring it here.
All three variants come with the choice of manual or automatic transmission, both six-speed.
We were able to test the third-gen Cerato during its launch in the NSW Hunter Valley. Our first impression was how solid a feel there was to the car, almost up there with the best of its European rivals … but at a lower price.
Inside the dashboard is simple, well-designed and functional.
The first thing that we do when testing cars nowadays is to pair our smartphone to the car’s Bluetooth connection. It’s often a frustrating experience with every manufacturer using a different method so we were delighted to be able to get both the telephone and audio streaming off and running in less than a minute.
Surprisingly for such a major tourist region the Hunter Valley has some awful roads, just the thing for testing ride and handling. The new Cerato, like all Australian Kia models, had a considerable amount of local input and it shows with an impressively smooth ride over some badly corrugated roads. Handling is safe rather than exciting as expected from a car of its type.
As we’ve come to expect from South Korea the third-generation Kia Cerato is well-equipped. Standard on all models are Electronic Stability Control with traction control, ABS brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist; Emergency Stop Signal which activated the hazard lights on emergency braking; front and rear parking sensors; six airbags; cruise control, Bluetooth; Auxiliary and USB sockets; and steering wheel mounted control.
The Si gets the bigger engine; 16-inch alloy wheels; reversing camera; smart key with push-button start/stop; chrome highlights; premier interior trim; 4.3-inch LCD computer screen; and automatic headlights.
The range-topping SLi gets larger (17-inch) alloys; LED rear combination lights; LED daytime running lights; leather trimmed seats; powered driver’s seat; paddle-shifters with the automatic; dual-zone climate control air conditioning; and heated front seats.
A satellite navigation package including traffic information and DVD player displaying on a 7-inch LCD screen, will be added to the options list for the SLi with the next production run, starting this month.
The last feature, and it may just clinch the deal for some buyers is, that like all Kia models, the new Cerato comes with a five year, unlimited kilometre standard warranty.
The complete 2013 Kia Cerato sedan range is:
Cerato S 1.8-litre four-door sedan: $19,990 (manual), $21,990 (automatic)
Cerato Si 2.0-litre four-door sedan: $23,990 (manual), $25,990 (automatic)
Cerato SLi 2.0-litre four-door sedan: $27,990 (manual), $29,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.