Kia Cerato Quick Review

By Alex Inwood, 24 May 2016 Car Reviews

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Kia Cerato

Kia gives its top-selling model a makeover and new equipment, yet keeps its affordable price tag

TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR

It’s the updated version of Kia’s best-selling model, the Cerato, which now sports a fresher look, improved equipment and sharper dynamics, yet still retains its competitive sub-$20,000 starting price.

It’s available as either a five-door hatch or four-door sedan and is one of the top sellers in its segment, trailing only the hugely popular Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Hyundai i30 and Volkswagen Golf.

STRENGTHS

  • It’s a decent handler. It wasn’t so long ago that Kia was a byword for sloppy dynamics and vague steering, but it seems those days are behind us. This new Cerato is a competent handler with decent road holding and a well-judged ride
  • A big part of this is down to the Cerato’s chassis, which is tuned for Australia’s pockmarked roads by local experts. The old Cerato was locally-tuned too, but this new one has even stiffer springs, different bushes and a new type of damper to further improve its ride and handling
  • Its new engine is a highlight too. Kia has ditched the old car’s hard-working 1.8-litre petrol for a larger and more powerful 2.0-litre unit. The new engine is strong and offers decent performance for easy overtakes, yet is no thirstier than the smaller engine it replaces.
  • Value has long been a Cerato strength, but this new model ups the ante ever further thanks to sharp drive away pricing and boosted equipment levels, including new safety systems like blind-spot detection and lane departure warning

WEAKNESS

  • Its steering still isn’t perfect. The old Cerato’s steering was vague and lifeless, and while this new model is a definite improvement, it still lacks feel and a sense of connection to the front wheels.
  • The ride could be a little firm for some. I know, we listed the way the Cerato handles as a strength, but the pay off for such superb body control and taut dynamics is suspension that can feel overly stiff over big bumps, especially in higher-spec Si and SLi models that roll on large 17-inch wheels
  • The seating position is too high in models fitted with leather electric seats. It’s strange, especially given the seating position in models fitted with manual cloth seats is excellent
  • There’s no AEB on any Cerato. And the entry-level model doesn’t score a reverse camera as standard either, which seems mean.

ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?

Yep, the four we mentioned earlier. The Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Hyundai i30 aren’t the best-selling cars in Australia by accident and are definitely worthy of close inspection. And if you’re chasing something with European charm, the VW Golf is a hugely competent all-rounder with a beautifully made interior, well-judged handling and high levels of standard equipment.

Click here to read the full review on the Kia Cerato range.