2011 Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback Review

by under Review2011 Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback Car Review on 04 Oct 2011 01:57:22 PM04 Oct 2011
Price Range
$NaN - $NaN
Fuel Consumption
NaNL - NaNL/100km

Looks terrific inside and out; roomy interior; nice engine


Over bumps suspension noise/harshness doesn’t quite match the best

Kia's Cerato Hatchback A Real Contender

You need look no further than Kia’s Cerato to prove the intense level of competition in Australia’s small car market. Terrifically styled by German Peter Schreyer, nicely equipped, a premium feel inside and handy to drive, the Kia Cerato admirably squares off against any other small car you could mention. 


Kia Cerato (hatchback, sedan and Koup) is part of an impressively updated lineup at Kia which includes the just-launched Rio compact, excellent Optima mid-size sedan and two handy SUVs in the Sportage and Sorento.

Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback Overview

Kia Cerato hatchback arrived after the sedan and Koup versions and is available in two model grades (Si and SLi). Car Showroom tested the range-topping Kia Cerato SLi hatchback with the six-speed automatic transmission.

Priced at $26,240, the Kia Cerato, like most rivals, is remarkable value with lots of kit and plenty of safety features. 


And the Kia Cerato will delight family buyers with its abundant interior space.

Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback Engine

Kia Cerato is powered by Kia’s ‘Theta II’ 2.0-litre DOHC petrol engine. Maximum power is 115kW at 6200rpm and peal torque is 194Nm at 4300rpm.

A couple of quick comparisons: Mazda3 delivers 108kW/182 Nm from its 2.0-litre engine while Volkswagen’s Golf has lots of engines to choose from, but in the price range of the Kia Cerato is the 90kW/200Nm 1.4-litre (or for a bit more coin you can go to Volkswagen’s wonderful 118kW/240Nm 1.4-litre with supercharger and turbocharger).


Fuel consumption for the Kia Cerato SLi as tested is rated at 9.8l/100kms (exactly the same as the Mazda3 hatchback).

We liked the responsiveness of the Kia Cerato with strong mid-range acceleration and slick shifts from the six-speed automatic. Engine noise was also commendably low (helped by extra sound deadening material in all pillars, the luggage area, under the bonnet and even under the passenger compartment carpet).

Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback The Interior

Compared to the sedan, Kia Cerato hatchback’s extended roofline provides 20mm more rear headroom and its interior space which scores big points for the Cerato in comparisons with other small cars. And that counts a lot for family buyers.

Behind the wheel you immediately know this is one of the latest Kia’s thanks to the hallmark high quality instrumentation with modern lighting. You also appreciate the excellent driving position (again a major improvement over earlier Kias) and standard Bluetooth.



Our SLi model test car gained paddle-shifters for the six-speed automatic transmission.

Another standout for the interior of the Kia Cerato is the quality materials and trim. SLi models gain black seat fabric with nice contrasting red stitching or optional leather.

Space is also noticeable in the rear which easily accounted for a couple of full-size adults during our week with the Kia Cerato – with no complaints about leg room or head room.

The rear seat backrest split-folds 60/40 and the cushions fold forwards to create a flat load area when maxing-out the cargo volume (385-litres with the rear seat in place).

Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback Exterior & Styling

Kia brought the Cerato hatchback to market after the sedan and Koup versions. For the hatchback, as well as the rear-end, Kia’s star German designer Peter Schreyer incorporated a new roof, side panels and C-pillar.

At the front, the Kia Cerato hatchback runs unique fog lights, grille and air intake, while the door mirrors include LED indicator lights. 


The SLi model Kia Cerato hatchback as tested gains nice-looking five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels.

Just like all of the Schreyer-influenced models the Kia Cerato hatch is a slick all-round design. It’s contemporary and stylish without being as ‘edgy’ as the Sportage SUV or Optima mid-size sedan.

Like its stablemates, the Kia Cerato is proof of Kia’s claim that these days it’s a design-lead company. And it’s these contemporary European-inspired designs which are charting the Korean giant’s global sales surge.

Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback On The Road

Kia Cerato hatchback was the second Kia model (after the Sportage SUV) to benefit from local suspension testing which resulted in unique calibration of springs and shock absorbers for local conditions. You have to tip your hat to Kia for this dedication to Australian buyers – finessing suspension tune isn’t cheap, but the payback in driving dynamics is measurable.

Reinforcing the impressions gleaned when we drove the Kia Cerato hatchback at the national media launch, we pitched our SLi model test car down our high-speed mountain roads test loop with impressive results. Using the paddle shifters for manual gearshifts to extract the most from the 2.0-litre engine, the Cerato responded with excellent turn-in, grip and mid-corner balance. 


Also impressive in the wet conditions were the traction control which didn’t upset the balance too much by being overly intrusive and also the electric power-assisted steering which provided good feedback.

During our week of city commuting, the Kia Cerato hatchback was very easy to live with. Nice acceleration from the 2.0-litre made freeway merging a breeze and good all-round visibility combined with the 10.78-metre turning circle to conquer our tight CBD car park.

Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback Challenges

Kia’s local suspension tuning has paid dividends with the Cerato’s driving dynamics – top shelf levels of balance, grip and feedback. However benchmark small cars like Volkswagen Golf, Mazda3 and Ford Focus are still marginally ahead in the refinement department, especially in the area of noise suppression over bumps.

Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback Verdict

A week in the Kia Cerato cemented the positive impression gained when we first drove the hatchback version of Kia’s small car at the national media launch. Cerato hatch starts at $22,240 and while we tested the range-topping SLi automatic ($26,240) the value proposition remains very strong.

Hatchback buyers will be impressed by the Kia Cerato’s extensive standard equipment and the roomy interior which is nicely kitted and delivers a premium feel thanks to good design and quality materials.


Globally Kia is one of the world’s fastest-growing automotive brands for one reason – competitively priced, good products…you need look no further than the Kia Cerato for confirmation.

Kia Cerato SLi Hatchback The Competition

Of course the latest Volkswagen Golf and just-launched Ford Focus are the stars in this league. And while not the newest design, the Mazda3 still challenges all-comers.

It will be interesting to see how the upcoming Holden Cruze hatchback compares in this high quality field.


But buyers need to carefully check specifications and prices because value for money is a Kia standout and in SLi form as tested ($26,240) the Cerato delivers a lot of car. And that 115kW/194Nm 2.0-litre outpowers many rivals.

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