The 3rd generation Cerato designed in the states by ex-VW’s Peter Schreyer shows a shift in design language to Kia’s new slightly more rounded and emotional shape. It’s a very similar look from the rear to the Rio sedan, but from the front it’s instantly Cerato with the wide fish-like grille, and new daytime running lights.
The engineThe 4-cylinder naturally aspirated 2-litre SX with 115kW and 194Nm felt very underpowered. It struggles at highway speeds with the bigger body and there’s not enough low down torque through town. It could definitely do with a smaller capacity turbocharged engine, which will also help fuel efficiency. It's reasonably fuel efficient when given the open road and not pushed, ending up just under 9l/100km, but nowhere near claims.
The interiorA fairly spacious interior, the rear legroom is a bit tight, but full leather seats are standard and materials used have a high quality feel. Standard features include Bluetooth, reverse camera, PDC, colour screen in the instrument binnacle for on-board computer, dual zone climate control, auto windows all round, electric folding mirrors, auto dimming rear view mirror, auto lights and xenon headlamps. It’s quite a lot of kit, including the nifty way the car lights up on approach and keyless start and entry. 6 Airbags, ABS, EBD, ESC and VSM are all standard.
For this level and price, these are knock-out features. There’s a lot of storage space - including a small area that locks up under the hangdown section. Steering wheel controls for the familiar horrid 50’s Kia radio are there too. There is also lots of luggage space - 492 litres of it, that can fit a dozen dead bodies, being both deep and wide.
Steering and brakesAs with all other Kia vehicles I’ve driven the steering is lifeless, however the SX model features variable steering that is supposed to give more feel, but instead feels similar to the SEGA rally games in the arcades way back when. It’s rather frustrating considering the rest of the package is quite good. The other problem is the rather 'wooden brakes' which are a tad limited in feel, but this isn’t a racer so most people wouldn’t notice that.
The driveThe Cerato balances a comfortable ride on good-looking 17inch rims with fairly predictable control when pushing on. This isn’t a car made for spirited driving, and when pushed on, it does feel out of its element. But at highway speeds and in town it’s comfortable and solid. The 6 speed manual gearbox has slick shifts but don’t slot anywhere near as solidly as Toyota or VW.
OverallIt just gets better and better with Kia, getting closer and closer to Toyota quality, probably not in real long-term reliability, but definitely in perceived quality. It’s a much more refined vehicle than its predecessor but you don’t pay in the price tag. Compared to the venerable Toyota Corolla, it might not last till 200 000km’s - but who drives a car that long these days anyways? If that’s what you’re after, go Corolla, but for a daily drive in the next 2-3 years it’s well styled, with high specification levels and a spacious boot for R279 995.
Kia Cerato price in South AfricaKia Cerato 2,0 SX Manual – 115/194 – R279 995
5yr/90 000km motorplan
Also look at:Chevrolet Cruze 1,8LS – 104/176 – R240 500
Toyota Corolla 2,0 exclusive – 102/189 – R273 000
Hyundai Elantra 1,8 Exec – 110/178 – R254 900
Renault Fluence 2,0 Dynamique – 105/195 – R249 900