The 2019 Kia Cerato GT is here to find buyers the bygone ProCeed GT never did.
There was nothing wrong with the ProCeed, we loved it as a warm hatch. And the fact the Cerato GT’s copies its ingredients with exclusive multi-link rear suspension, Michelin tyres, uprated suspension bits, bigger brakes and a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine underscores that.
But what the Cerato does, crucially, that Kia hopes will make it much more popular, is offer four doors and only an automated transmission. Power is a class-leading 150kW/265Nm but represents no increase on the ProCeed, even though it’s heavier. In sedan form it’s well over 1400kg when filled with fluids to reach kerb weight.
The cabin’s typically Kia, in that it’s smart, well finished and feels suited to its $32,990 ask. A manual transmission stalk is obvious in its absence, especially when the seven-speed dual clutch’s lever, operated with a release-button, undermines its sporting intentions. But you get a set of paddles behind the wheel.
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. Other things you notice at lows speeds is how much smoother the powertrain’s is compared to the (much cheaper) Rio GT-Line’s also seven-speed dual clutch-based unit.
Its strong four-cylinder engine is key, mating tractability at low speed to a punchy mid-range. But it seems pointless to rev it to the 6500rpm redline when peak power arrives 500rpm earlier. Oddly, the drive mode button on the centre console can only access Comfort, Eco and Smart drive modes. Sport is instead engaged with a flick of the gear the lever to the right.
No matter what mode you select, the whole thing’s quiet as a mouse until it’s warmed up to operating temperatures. But once the electric sound generator switches on, you’ll wish it never did since its sounds heavily manufactured. However it’s much more natural in the upper rev ranges.
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Corners are a mixed-bag for the Cerato. The grip balance is nice and neutral, safer than the ProCeed’s playful nature, and the open differential puts down the 1.6-litre’s power surprisingly well.
The steering is the car’s weak point. Lacking feedback and feel, it robs you of confidence to capitalise on available grip. There’s also some torque steer along cambered roads.
As for picking the Cerato GT out from boggo versions in the sales yard, it gets exclusive 18-inch wheels and red accents at either end. LED lights also underscore its range-topping appeal.
But that’s ultimately what compromises the Cerato GT. It’s been built to lure unsuspecting buyers into something more premium. However, in wanting to appeal to a broader audience, it’s lost the cult appeal of what made its warm-hatch so good in the first place.
By this showing, we won’t forget ProCeed GT for some time.
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2019 KIA CERATO GT SPECS
Engine: 1.6-litre, DOHC, inline-four, turbo
Power: 150kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 265Nm @ 1500-4000rpm
Drive: front-drive, seven-speed dual clutch transmission, open differential
Weight: 1370kg (tare)