KIA has unveiled its latest-gen small four-door at the Detroit Motor Show, with the new Forte making its debut at North America’s biggest motor show ahead of its mid-2018 local arrival as the Cerato sedan.
Stretched 81.3mm longer and 17.8mm wider to occupy a 4640mm-by-1798mm footprint, the fresh-look Cerato sedan offers more cabin space than before as well as a bigger 'n' bolder visual presence. Design cues cribbed from the Stinger are evidenced in the front bumper, while the rear end’s stumpy deck lid appears almost Audi A3-ish and its tail-lamp LED graphics look like heavily inspired by Jaguar.
How does the hatch look? No idea yet. In the sedan-friendly US, Kia doesn’t bother with a Forte hatch.
The interior gains similar stylistic improvements, with the Forte/Cerato dumping the current car’s organic (others might describe it as "bizarrely lumpy") dashboard for better furniture that bears many similarities to that of its corporate cousin, the Hyundai i30.
An eight-inch colour infotainment touchscreen sits in a tombstone housing atop the centre stack, while a wireless charging pad will be available in some grades. For the US-market Forte, more advanced safety tech such as lane-keep assist, AEB and active cruise control make their way onto the spec list, as does smartphone mirroring in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Full specifications for the Australian market have yet to be announced, but Americans will have a revamped 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol four, which can operate in an ultra-efficient Atkinson cycle mode.
A six-speed manual will be standard, with an “Intelligent Variable Transmission” available as an option.
Essentially a chain-driven continuously variable transmission with Kia’s own shift logic and a sound-insulating cover, the IVT option is claimed to do away with the rubber-band feel of regular CVTs and endow the Cerato with an average fuel economy in the region of 6.7L/100km.
Other mechanical changes include reworked suspension geometry for sharper steering response, while the electrically assisted steering has been retuned to dial out the artificial feel of the current model.
Full details for the Australian market will be revealed closer to launch, which is currently slated for the middle of this year for the sedan, and the fourth quarter of 2018 for the hatchback equivalent. Kia Australia says it is aiming to substantially grow its share of new car sales this year, and the new Cerato will be “absolutely core to that”.