Kia has kicked off its renewed Cerato offensive with the local introduction of the brand-new saloon. The hatchback will arrive in August, followed by the two-door Koup in November.
Exterior and interior details
The Cerato has certainly come a long way since it was first introduced in 2004. Back then, it was hardly a vehicle that turned heads. Now, however, thanks to chief designer Peter Schreyer, the Cerato can be described as good-looking and desirable.
The new styling encompasses a cab-forward design, a lower roofline and chiselled lines on the doors and bonnet for a sportier, more upmarket appearance. The new Cerato is 30 mm longer (4 560 mm), 15 mm lower (1 445 mm) and 5 mm wider (1 780 mm) than the second-generation Cerato. The wheelbase has been extended by 50 mm (to 2 700 mm).
Inside, the new Korean saloon feels and looks classy with dark materials highlighted by chrome trim. The cabin feels driver-oriented with everything within easy reach. There is an airy and spacious ambience about the cabin. This could be the result of a lower cabin floor and, according to Kia, improved shoulder room.
On the road
There are two petrol engines available – a 1,6- and 2,0-litre. At the launch I was able to climb behind the wheel of the 118 kW 2,0-litre version. This particular vehicle was mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. A manual transmission is also available.
This engine felt most at home when cruising along steadily. Any quick acceleration or rapid increase in speed results in high revs and an engine that sounds as though it labours. When in full automatic mode, the gears changes aren’t as quick as I prefer, but there are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel should drivers wish to intervene and change gears at their own pace.
The ride is comfortable with the Cerato’s fully independent front suspension and coupled torsion-beam axle rear handling the very uneven KZN roads with ease. This vehicle doesn’t inspire sporty or dynamic performance, so there was no need to really test these aspects of the car. The only thing that changes the dynamics of the car is the Flexsteer system that adjusts the feel of the steering. The default mode is “normal” with “comfort” (lighter steering for easier parking) and “sport” (stiffer steering feel) also on offer.
There are two trim configurations available. The 1,6-litre comes with EX specification, while the 2,0-litre comes with EX and SX.
Standard nice-to-haves across the range include auto-locking doors, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, rake and reach adjustment on the steering column, an MP3, USB and iPod-compatible audio system, a three-spoke leather steering wheel and electric windows all around. Unique to the SX are features such as 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, stability control, start/stop, hill-start assist and Flexsteer (also available on the 2,0-litre EX).
For peace of mind, safety features include ABS with EBD, dual front, side and curtain airbags, Isofix anchorages, fog lights and central locking.
The third-generation Cerato moves the Kia brand further upmarket and continues to show that the Koreans can take it to the market stalwarts. It’s not quite up there when it comes to engine refinement, but the Cerato is certainly a good alternative to the norm.
Model: Cerato 2,0 SX AT
Price: R289 995
Engine: 1 999 dm3
Power: 118 [email protected] 6 500 r/min
Torque: 194 N.m @ 4 800 r/min
0-100 km/h: 9,3 seconds
Top speed: 205 km/h
Kia Cerato 1,6 – R219 995
Kia Cerato 1,6 AT – R229 995
Kia Cerato 2,0 – R249 995
Kia Cerato 2,0 AT – R259 995
Kia Cerato 2,0 SX – R279 995
Kia Cerato 2,0 SX AT – R289 995
Prices include a five-year/90 000 km service plan, a five-year/150000 km warranty and a three-year/unlimited roadside-assistance plan.