Kia Cerato tends to have been lost in the shadow of the stunning Stinger and the cute little Picanto at the moment. So it’s easy to forget that it’s the most successful car in the range in Australia in terms of sales, with around one in three of all Kias being a Cerato.
The South Korean giant is certainly not going to rest on its laurels so just launched an all-new Cerato, the third generation, and the Australian importer has big hopes for it.
The biggest news is the styling. This is no longer a relatively conservative family sedan, it’s a sleek machine that drew plenty of attention during our road test program out of Adelaide. Details from the very successful Kia Stinger are obvious and are most welcome.
The dashboard is attractive with a minimalist shape that makes it look wider, indeed it gives the interior enlarged look. The infotainment screen is a good size and easy to use. All Cerato grades have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
Only the four-door Cerato sedan is on sale now, the five-door hatch won’t be here for several months; no date has been released at this stage. We are looking forward to seeing what the stylists have done with it.
Interestingly, Kia Australia has given its latest Cerato models new titles – the Sport and Sport+ grades replace the Cerato SL and SLi. But don’t expect much from the sporty names as the word ‘sport’ has long ago ceased to mean sport in the car business. More about Cerato’s handling in the Driving section of this report. The entry level model retains the tag of Cerato S.
Value for money continues to be a major feature of new Kia Cerato, with prices ranging from just $19,990 for the S six-speed manual, to $26,190 for the Sport+ automatic. All prices are driveaway.
New Cerato is slightly larger than the superseded one with more cabin space making it a genuine four-seater for tall adults. Three kids and mum and dad is likely to be the most typical load and the Kia will handle that with ease.
The tag ‘all-new’ isn’t quite accurate as the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with 112kW of power and 192Nm of torque remains as in later versions of the gen-two Cerato. As is the six-speed manual gearbox.
However, the six-speed automatic transmission is new and plays a major part of a sophisticated Kia Drive Mode Select (DMS) system also modifies engine and steering behaviour.
In a sign of the times the automatic transmission is more fuel efficient, 7.4 litres per hundred kilometres, than the manual at 7.6 litres per hundred.
The body is even stronger than before and considerable work has gone into stiffening it up to reduce noise, vibration and harshness entry, as well as to give the suspension a solid platform to work on.
Showcasing the company’s Australian suspension and handling tuning Kia took us on a long, demanding drive program from Adelaide airport to the Barossa Valley … the long way around.
There were countless bends, climbs and falls, not only on sealed surfaces, but also on short stretches of dirt road. As well as some boring motorway work and peak hour traffic hassles.
This family oriented sedan handled it all with ease. Tyre noise on coarse-chip surfaces was certainly there at times, but we’ve heard far worse. Steering feel is good, but perhaps a little lighter than we like.
Getting good gearbox feel in a front-wheel-drive family car isn’t easy but the Kia is better than average.
Ride comfort was generally good, but the semi-sporting nature of the setup may not be to all tastes. If you’re a conservative driver who likes to keep the kids comfortable it might we worth doing your pre-purchase test drive with the crew on board.
Engine response is good but there’s not a lot of grunt for hillclimbing and we frequently had to get down to the lower gears in situations where others could have held on to higher ones. That’s in the manual, of course, the automatic transmission quickly got the message we wanted more torque and dropped a ratio or two quickly.
Excellent styling will certainly draw many potential buyers into Kia’s showrooms Australia wide, but there’s little doubt the seven-year unlimited-distance warranty. It intrigues us that no other maker in Australia has challenged Kia’s seven-year deal, some have dabbled around the edges, none has gone all the way.
Cerato S: $19,990 (manual), $21,490 (automatic)
Sport: $23,690 (automatic)
Sport+: $26,190 (automatic)
Safety Pack 1 (for S and Sport): $1000
Safety Pack 2 (for Sport+): $500
Premium paint: $520
Note: These are driveaway prices and include all government and dealer delivery charges.