$20,240 – $29,005
Good: Neat exterior styling, comfortable interior with a huge boot, six speed automatic transmission and supple ride, all mean good value.
Not so Good: Limited rear seat storage options, the 2.0L petrol engine lacks a little refinement and the steering is vague.
Design and Engineering
Good : The current generation Cerato Hatchback arrived in Australia in October 2010, following the sedan body style which arrived here in January 2009. 19cm shorter overall than the sedan, as a result of a shorter rear overhang, boot capacity is a big 385 litres. The wheelbase, overall width and height remain the same as the Cerato sedan. The styling is modern and attractive; we like the design and believe it will age well. Fortunately unlike a number of competitors, the Cerato’s hatch doors close with a reassuring ‘thud’ rather than a cheap ‘clang’.
Not so good : In detail it’s a more conservative design than say a Mazda 3, but equally this could be viewed as a positive. The Si grade sits on 15 inch steel wheels but we think the 17 inch alloy wheels on SLi grade look far sleeker.
Interior and Styling
Good : The interior has an Impressive fit and finish, and a contemporary dash design with all buttons laid out logically. The dials in the driver’s instrument cluster are clear and legible. The front seats are comfortable with plenty of storage options for front row occupants. The rear seat room is good and has plenty of leg and headroom on offer. And there is a big 385 litre boot (and that’s with the seats up).
The cabin is significantly quieter than on previous generation small Kia’s thanks to added sound deadening material such as heavier-density boot carpet amongst other changes.
Not so good : Some of the dash features semi-premium soft touch style plastics, but much of it is still finished in the hard and shiny variety. Rear seat passengers’ storage options are limited to two cup holders in the middle seat fold down armrest.
Good : The Cerato is available with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing a healthy 115kW of power and 194Nm of torque. On the road this equates to sufficient ‘oomph’ in urban and most highway environments. Both the manual and automatic gearboxes are six speed – class leading at launch in October 2010! This shift from the previous 5 speed manual and 4 speed auto offerings from Kia equates to improved fuel economy. Official combined fuel consumption figures are 7.5 litres per 100km for the manual and 7.7 litre per 100kms for the automatic. Our pick of the two transmissions is the automatic – our testers found the shifting to be smooth over a wide range of conditions, but the manual gearbox is light, shifting gears easily.
Not so good : The engine sounds less refined than a number of competitors, especially competing smaller displacement turbocharged offerings, it can get noisy at higher revs. It also doesn’t feel as fast in the real world as the class leading 115kW of power indicates. The manual’s gear shift is long and lacks the tightness of the class best offerings and the clutch pedal can be difficult to judge as it is so light in feel. Smooth take offs from the lights are no guarantee.
Ride and Handling
Good : The Cerato’s suspension was tuned specifically for Australian roads (unlike previous generation Kia’s) and the differences are noticeable. Both ride and handling are on the money for a small family car. Over most surfaces the ride remains supple and the handling is impressive without quite reaching the levels of the segment best. The steering is light but offers good weighting when cornering and is free of kick-back. Noise insulation is also noticeably better than previous small Kia’s.
Not so good : The rear suspension is a simple torsion-beam set up rather than a newer and more expensive variety, as a result the ride can suffer over rougher surfaces. Driving enthusiasts will bemoan the steering which is still more vague in feedback (noticeable at straight ahead, i.e. highway driving) than the class best. Top spec SLi grade (which rides on bigger 17 inch alloys and lower profile tyres) equates to greater tyre noise over rough ‘broken-up’ bitumen surfaces than the SL grade.
Buying and Owning
Good : Standard safety features include 6 airbags (front, front side and curtain), ABS brakes and stability control.
Both the SL and SLi grades come with side mirror mounted indicators, keyless entry, cruise control, steering wheel mounted cruise control and audio controls, Bluetooth, iPod compatibility and air-conditioning. A full size spare wheel and tyre gets the thumbs up from us and Kia’s 5 year unlimited kilometre warranty is class leading. All-round good value for money.
Not so good : Whilst the sedan body style Cerato is available with an even less expensive base ‘S’ grade, the hatch body style is only offered in SL and SLi trim.