You expect “cheap and cheerful” when you think Kia, but what you might not expect is “tasteful and elegant”, and that is what new Cerato is.
When a buyer visits a showroom they will sit in each car, trying them on for size. Like a good book, if the shopper isn’t hooked at first sight, the venture is lost. The metalwork has to look as sexy as it can. Everything you see and touch has to evoke a sense of desire in a buyer. Kia has captured just the right balance between form and function.
As the fog cleared and the sun came out, South Australia’s beautiful wine country seemed the perfect place to introduce Kia’s new Cerato Sedan. We drove several cars with the first being pearl white, and it really did look the business.
Last month, SUVs outnumbered passenger cars by around 40,000 sales year to date (source:Vfacts May report). Kia COO, Damien Meredith, said Kia is committed to the passenger car market and will continue to support its passenger fleet.
The new model has been lavished with extended driver aids and cabin technology.
The old model hatch will continue to sell along side the new sedan until the end of the year. By comparison doesn’t seem quite so well equipped, especially in the base model.
The range has a new naming scheme which starts with the base model S, then steps up to the Sport, and finally Sport+.
Kia pegged new Cerato against perennial favourites, Civic and Golf. So how does it stack up?
Very well as it turns out.
It’s easy mistake Cerato for a European.
Designed at the company’s Irvine studio overseen by ex Audi design chief, Peter Schreyer, Cerato gets cool features like the signature Tiger Nose grille and unique DTRLs. This gives the model a distinctively Kia look.
Entry level S is well equipped enough, but Kia’s product manager, Roland Rivero, has curated an extensive suite of nifty tech to make even the base model Cerato S a “compelling purchase option.”
Lines are kept simple. The fastback-wedge profile sweeps up to a European-style rear end, something Kia is particularly good at capturing. Careful side sculpting keeps character lines to a minimum while removing that slab-sided characteristic common to previous models.
Cerato is particularly attractive viewed from the rear and is much improved over the old model.
Delicious tail lights are reminiscent of Audi and VW. LEDs cut a line across the boot with stop lights having their extra bright displays clustered towards the outer corners. This premium look is gradually being rolled out as new Kias hit market.
Interesting highlights include the rear bumper “diffuser”, a decorative hexagonal pattern insert in the lower section. Indicators and reversing lights are found just above. Rear lighting is split between the bumper for the indicators, and further up the body for tail lights. I’d prefer the indicators to be part of the main cluster. They are sited far too low and would not be easily seen in traffic stopped at lights.
LED lighting looks expensive. It also saves on power, and is longer lasting than incandescent bulbs. It can be seen from greater distances even in bad weather, so is safer too
Headlights are LED on the Sport+, and halogen on Sport and S.
16” Steel wheels are standard on the S. That seems a bit mean in the world of bright and shiny alloys. Fear not, 17” alloys are standard on the rest of the range. By the time you put alloys and extra safety gear on an S, you may as well have ordered the Sport.
S will serve as the Go-To for fleets, who will no doubt add a few grand for the automatic option.
Cerato’s 2700 mm wheelbase is unchanged over the old model. Overall length grows by 80 mm, to 4640 mm, withThe rear overhang growing by 60 mm to 1040 mm. Cerato is 5 mm in higher, at 1440 mm than the old model.
The cabin is spacious and despite a high waistline, has a light and airy feel.
The simple and clean interior design continues the characteristic Kia look with function as the focus. It eschews the old days where entry level cars were lucky to have carpets let alone heaters and power windows.
Materials include a soft-touch padded plastic dash, and on Sport+, soft touch plastic on the top of the window sills. I’d prefer the soft feel doors on the other models too, but it is not a deal breaker. Remember, the base model comes in at under $20,000 for the manual and all cars have a 7 year warranty.
Large circular rocket-exhaust-style vents, and a sloping dash board, surely takes inspiration from a 50’s Chevy rear end. That slightly retro look is appealing and very clever.
Driver information dials have the usual Speedo and tacho and are supplemented with an LCD screen in-between. Fuel usage and other essential figures are displayed clearly.
Well labelled auxiliary steering wheel controls include: Active Cruise Control and Lane Control. Blind sport and rear cross traffic monitoring can be added for $500 ON Sport+. They are easy to find and use, thanks to a familiar layout. Audio controls include phone answering, which can also be done handsfree via Siri using Apple CarPlay. Android Auto users have a similar method if you can work out how to get it to work.
Climate control is auto dual zone in Sport+, and manual in other models.
A ubiquitous floating touch-tablet tops the centre stack. Quick access buttons at its base give passengers clear and easy ways to navigate the system. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is standard across the range.
- 6-speed manual ($19,990 drive away) or 6-speed automatic ($21,490 drive away)
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Functions controlled by centre tablet and steering wheel controls.
- Forward collision waring
- standard Autonomous Emergency Braking,
- Forward Collision Warning,
- Lane Keep Assist
- Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines
- Driver Attention Alert Warning
- front and rear parking sensors
- 16-inch steel wheels
- Drive Mode Select
- six airbags
- tyre pressure monito
- speed limiter
- 6-way driver seat adjustment
- cruise control
- 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition
- 6-speaker DAB digital radio with Bluetooth connectivity
- manual air-conditioning and power windows with driver auto-down
- space saving spare wheel
- $23,690 drive away
- 17-inch alloys
- satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic and 10 years Mapcare
- premium steering wheel and shift knob
- aero blade wipers and sport-patterned cloth-trim seats
Sport+ adds ($26,190 drive away)
- AEB Fusion II (pedestrian and cyclist recognition)
- advanced smart cruise control
- LED daytime running lights
- smart key and push button start
- leather trim seat
- electric folding door mirrors with automatic folding function
- dual-zone climate control air-conditioning
- rear air vents.
- Engine: 2.0L MPI, 112kw, 192Nm.
- Econ: 7.4L/100k
- Transmission: 6 speed auto ( 6 speed manual is available entry level S)
Column-mounted electric power steering has been tweaked for Australia by Graham Gambold, Kia Australia’s local tuner. Mr Gambold also laid hands on the suspension which is firm for what Kia says is a sportier drive.
Cornering is reasonably sharp.
Only the most uncooperative of road surfaces fazed Cerato. Bumps mid corner elicited a slight jiggle but control remains predictable. The “Sports” moniker is probably a little hopeful, but calling a model range “fun”, “super fun” and “uber fun with extra stuff” would be taking things a bit far.
We found some fun roads where twists and turns met lumpy tarmac, and to my surprise, Cerato was “a bunch of fun.” I pushed it further than most drivers will. The Kia was keen to step up to the plate and although seriously bad weather limited our time in the car, Cerato was a pleasure.
The little Kia will be a city car, and that is where it feels most at home.
Noise and vibration have been improved with the addition of extra body adhesive. Noise deadening material added to the channels within the body construction all but eliminate the hollow drumming effect.
Everything you add to a car increases weight, so the choice of materials used in construction is vital. Sound deadening is an exact science that demands a balance between effectiveness, and weight.
Cruising speed feels smooth, but the 112kw engine can feel a little breathless when pushed hard. The 2.0L MPI engine feels less sophisticated than the super-smooth Golf and Civic. Power and torque figures tell only part of the story.
You need to plan overtaking, but could still manage a relaxed country drive.
The 6 speed auto changes smoothly and has a sport mode which holds gears longer. Leaving it in normal mode is perfectly adequate for urban driving. Additional Drive modes change the throttle response and are selectable via a button on the console.
Stinger received a 3-star rating for the base models (and 5 star on top models with AEB) and Kia quickly responded by adding AEB to all models. Sensibly Kia put autonomous emergency braking on every Cerato in the first instance. Cars tested for ANCAP in 2018 will not get 5 stars without it.
Sport+ has added the extra safety of pedestrian and cyclist detection using both a camera and radar to seek out wayward stragglers. It then applies maximum braking if the driver doesn’t.
New Cerato is 19kg heavier than the old model and fuel consumption is up very slightly, using an extra 0.3L/100k.
ANCAP has not yet been tested Cerato. Kia will supply 4 cars in due course (to be tested to destruction).
Select areas have stronger steel, and along with additional body adhesive, makes the body more rigid than before.
- AEB Fusion II (pedestrian and cyclist recognition) on Sport+, standard AEB on other models
- 6 airbags (front passenger, side, and side curtain)
- Reversing camera and sensors
- High strength steel in selected areas
- Handsome looks
- Clean and functional cabin design
- High equipment level
Not So Good Bits
- Engine can run out of puff when pushed
- Smart entry only in top model
- Some plastics feel hard and spoil the quality feel
I have long asked how Kia does it for the price.
If you really want to now how a car is doing, try googling for “recalls”. It is always my first step.
Not only is the range covered by a 7-year warranty, but 7 years roadside assist is included for good measure. Although the space saver spare tyre is limited to 80kph, it will get you out of trouble. Many brands have moved to a puncture repair kit which has never yet worked for met. Each time I’ve needed to call on roadside assist for help, and each time was a lengthy wait.
Appalling weather limited the amount of time we spent in the new Cerato, but the drive proved rewarding nonetheless.
Starting at under 20 grand, Cerato give the Europeans a run for their money.
Ride and handling are excellent. Although I would stop short of calling it sporty, it was very pleasing. We spent time in traffic where all urbanites will do hours of long-suffering service. The Kia hummed along happily.
Peak hour maneuvers were dispatched with alacrity. A low-ish first gear allowed a spirited take-off at lights, and the auto was eager to kick down for extra pep.
After the looks, the most striking thing is how quiet and refined the cabin is. Engine noise is slightly intrusive when strained, but that is rare. Perhaps a slightly sportier sports exhaust note would make that rare occasion more of an event.
We filled the boot with luggage for two. With all the bags, coats, and scarves, there was still a ton of room left over.
I’d like smart entry on all models, but clever old Kia is keen to give buyers a good reason to go for the posher models. The more shekels, the more profit.
I rated Cerato at 8.5 for the excellent tech, and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay as standard. Kia has their signature 7year warranty/roadside assist, and keen drive-away Cerato pricing. It is little wonder than that the Korean is steadily climbing the top-ten sales chart.
It lost a few points for slightly cheap plastic in the lower models (particularly on the doors), and a slightly raucous engine that feels less sophisticated than rivals.
A 6 speed auto is preferable to a CVT, but is starting to fall short in a market moving to transmissions with as many as 10 cogs.
New Cerato is a huge step up from the outgoing model and my tick would definitely be for the sedan rather than the hatch. The outgoing model hatch will stay with us until the end of the year. Although good value, it falls short when compared to the shiny new thing. Kia isn’t unique in doing this, but it doesn’t change the fact that the new car is positively crammed full of goodies.
Cheap and Cheerful has become Value for Money.
Facts and Figures
Price: from $19,990 drive away
Engine: 2.0MPI, 112kw, 192Nm
Transmission: 6 sp auto (6 sp manual standard on $19,990 S)
Safety: not yet tested
Origin: Hwasung, South Korea
Warranty: 7 year unlimited km
Alan Rating: 8.5/10
David rating 8/10