Now into its third generation, the Cerato features regularly in the list of the top 10-selling passenger cars, making it Kia’s best seller in Oz.
This generation of the Cerato was launched in 2013. A big makeover in mid-2016 went a long way to make it look more attractive. But that could only do so much.
Kia has now introduced a new model to the Cerato line-up that slips in above the sub-$20,000 entry-level Cerato S, and the more premium Si, called simply the Sport. Priced from $22,490 drive away, the Sport plugs the gap between the $19,990 S and the $28,990 Si. It replaces the $24,990 S Premium that’s no longer on sale.
So, the name would suggest you get something with a bit more athletic ability. Does it add anything new to the Cerato range?
WHAT STANDS OUT?
Before the Sport’s arrival, buyers wanting the comfort of a reversing camera – essential equipment if you have small children – had to pay an extra $500 to get one. But here, in the Sport, we have that reversing camera. We also have smartphone connectivity for both Apple and Android devices, even if you still need a cable to connect them.
The sport also adds a leather-look steering wheel and gear selector surround – don’t be fooled, it’s plastic – as well as slightly larger 17-inch alloy wheels – the standard car sits on 16s. There’s a few more splashes of chrome around the cabin including the door handles, and soft-touch door trim that still feels a bit cheap and plastic, but isn’t so jarring on the elbow.
If you buy the sedan, it also gets a boot lid spoiler. There’s also three new colours; a pearl white, a dark silver, and this, silky silver.
There’s the usual benefits of buying a Kia, such as a full-size spare wheel on an alloy rim that matches the other four – important in an era where skinny temporary spare tyres that only help you limp to the nearest tyre shop are common.
And then there’s that seven-year, unlimited kilometre Kia warranty that crushes the competition.
But what about that Sport badge? Well, it’s really only a badge. The Cerato sport uses the same 112kW/192Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as the rest of the Cerato range.
There is a Sport setting, available via a console-mounted “Drive Mode Select” switch, but all it does is sharpen up the electrically assisted steering slightly, makes the throttle more sensitive and the gear changes arrive later.
But that’s not a good thing, because while the Cerato’s engine is a good little unit, it’s a bit noisy and buzzes more the higher in the rev range you go. Even in “normal” mode, the engine’s coarseness and the gearbox’s snaggy changes mark against it.
Cerato Sport doesn’t ride or handle any differently to the non-Sport badged cars, either. But that is no bad thing, as the suspension system is tuned for Aussie tastes, meaning ride comfort on lumpy roads is pretty good, even if it does fall short of the best in its class. If that’s where your focus is, you’re better off to look at something like a Subaru Impreza, Mazda 3 or Volkswagen Golf.
Being stuck in traffic in the Kia Cerato is more than tolerable. The cloth seats are nicely supportive, and the centre dash tilts ever so slightly towards the driver, the way it should be. The interior’s sharp, styled package also back up the exterior’s look, too, so it feels more coherent, and less of a car designed in two parts, inside and out.
The back seat is comfy with enough knee and toe room to keep most passengers happy, with a 60:40 split-fold rear seatback that’s perfect for taking your Kia to Ikea. The boot will swallow up to 385 litres of luggage, while the sedan will add another 97 litres.
In the past, we would have nudged Cerato buyers towards an entry-level S, but recommended they hand over an extra $500 to option a reversing camera.
But the Cerato Sport includes the reversing camera with supermarket car park friendly front and rear sensors, sits on much nicer wheels, has a matching alloy in the boot rather than a steel-rimmed spare, and dusk-sensing headlights that switch on automatically. So for $3000 more than the price of the entry-level Cerato you’re getting better looks, 17-inch wheels, and that all-important reversing camera.
So while 2016’s freshen-up of the Cerato range upped its appeal, adding the Sport takes the small hatch and sedan an extra step, even if it doesn’t live up to its name.