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Kia Cerato GT track review: 9th place, Bang For Your Bucks 2019

By Louis Cordony | Photos: Nathan Jacobs & Alastair Brook, 26 Jul 2019 Best Value Performance Cars

Honest Korean warm hatch fails to ProCeed up the Bang ranking

Bang For Your Bucks 2019 Kia Cerato GT track review feature

Reputation, like cities, are much harder to build than destroy. So we bet Kia thought long and hard before putting a GT badge on its Kia Cerato GT.

This track review was carried out in conjunction with MOTOR's Bang For Your Bucks 2019

That’s because its predecessor, the ProCeed GT, dominated the warm hatch segment of its time so well, it left some big shoes to fill when it was killed off early. Yep, the attributes that made it so popular among enthusiasts, like a manual-only transmission and three doors, were exactly what turned broader audiences away. Forcing Kia to replace it with this car.


The Cerato GT is here to find the buyers the ProCeed never could, hence five doors and its exclusive dual-clutch gearbox, while keeping the peace with enthusiasts. Bolted underneath is a unique multi-link rear end and it also has Michelin Pilot Sport 4s, uprated suspension and bigger brakes.

It carries over the turbocharged 1.6-litre four cylinder, that also does the rounds in Hyundai’s product line-up, making a decent 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm at 1750rpm-4000rpm. So far, so good.

With those extra doors, the 1395kg Cerato GT is a little flabbier than the ProCeed, but it acquits itself well on the dragstrip, dispatching the 0-100km/h sprint in 7.08 seconds and covering 400m in 15.22 seconds. Seemingly enough to blow its warm-hatch rivals into the weeds.

MOTOR comparison: ProCeed GT v 86 GTS

On Winton Raceway it carries good speed into corners and also puts down its power surprisingly well. Its downfall, however, is that while the driving experience can be engaging, it never turns into something exciting.

The steering lacks feedback and feel, robbing you of the chance to capitalise on available grip, and the ride and handling balance the ProCeed was known for – somewhere between a Golf GTI and Fiesta ST’s – has disappeared.

The turbo blows hard in the lower rev range, so revving it past its 6000rpm power peak to the 6500rpm redline is pointless, and the electric sound generator that is supposed to improve the sonic experience, sounds heavily manufactured.

Things are more impressive inside, the front seats are excellent and offer good adjustability for someone average sized, it’s only a shame the heavily raked windscreen squeezes forward vision.

Ultimately, what’s most telling is how you engage Sport mode. Rather than find it with the button on the console that cycles through Normal, Eco and Smart, you’ll need to knock the gear lever across to the right. It feels hidden away. And it feels like the joy originally engineered into the ProCeed GT has fallen to the same fate.

An equal-best $31,990 category price gave it a major head start in the BFYB formula, but the judges’ collective rankings pulled it back to a more appropriate ninth place.

Fun need not come at a price with Bang For Your Bucks 2019

Kia Cerato GT BFYB 2019 Results - 9th place

0-100km/h: 7.08sec 
0-400m: 15.22sec @ 152.04km/h
Price: $31,990
Bang Index: 15.7
Bucks Index: 162.9 
BFYB Index: 89.3

Bang For Your Bucks 2019 Judges' Comments

Campbell - 11th
“Good enough that you could imagine Kia making something pretty hot out of it – if it wanted.”

Cordony - =10th
“Does what it should. But is no ProCeed GT. Sigh.” 

Morley - 11th
“Does this hatch make my bumper look big? Yes.”

Scott Newman - 11th
“Underwhelming on track but dynamically polished. Very solid warm hatch.”

Luffy - 11th
“For what it is, it’s okay. It has reasonably good mid-corner grip in wet, but the engine lacked the excitement that is expected of a car wearing a GT badge. When you think GT, you normally think of performance. It’s a nice car but it shouldn’t wear a GT badge.”

FAST FACTS 
2019 KIA CERATO GT SPECS
BODY: 5-door, 5-seat hatch
DRIVE: front-wheel
ENGINE: 1591cc in-line 4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
BORE/STROKE: 77.0 x 85.4mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.0:1
POWER: 150kW @ 6000rpm
TORQUE: 265Nm @ 1500-4500rpm
WEIGHT: 1395kg (tare)
POWER-TO-WEIGHT: 107kW/tonne (tare)
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch
SUSPENSION: struts, coil springs, dampers, roll bar (f), multi-links, dampers, coil springs, roll bar (r)
BRAKES: 305mm ventilated discs, single piston caliper (f); 262mm solid discs, single piston caliper (r)
WHEELS: 18 x 8.0-inch (f/r)
TYRES: Michelin Pilot Sport 4, 225/40 ZR18 (f/r)
PRICE: $31,990

Bang For Your Bucks 2019

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