Still among the best.
The Kia Cerato, when it first arrived, took the reigns from the Forte, and continued Kia’s march firmly into contention among its peers. Kia is something of an upstart among carmakers like Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Holden, but it’s managed to achieve some pretty impressive things since its inception not that long ago. The Cerato is evidence of that.
Available with a range of trims and sharp pricing, the Cerato continues to offer great value and versatility, with both saloon and hatch body styles that’ll appeal to both families and young executives. Regardless of which Cerato you choose, it promises a comfortable, quiet ride and enough room for passengers and their cargo.
“The most obvious changes are the slight exterior styling tweaks, which have been added to deliver a more dynamic look.” - CarAdvice
Refreshed in early 2017, the Kia Cerato sports a more modern interpretation of the ‘Tiger Nose’ grille, a hallmark of every Kia since the induction of Peter Schreyer as the design boss of the Korean firm. While the pre-facelift Cerato wore the Tiger Nose grille too, the latest interpretation is far more upright and mature, flanked by slimmer headlights with built-in LED daytime running lights.
The rear was also revised for 2017, featuring new taillight graphics and reprofiled bumpers, much like the front end. Turbine alloys were added to Sport models upwards, with top-spec SLi cars getting 17-inch units instead. Overall, the Cerato looks a little more grown up than it used to, in both hatch and saloon body styles. The Cerato maintains its mature and proportionate styling, aided further by the revisions introduced for the ’17 model year.
Engine & Drivetrain
“As Kia put it, the 2.0-litre is “tried-and-true.””- TopSpeed
No matter what trim or body you go for, you will find only one engine under the bonnet. A naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder motivates every Cerato, with power and torque figures standing at 112kW and 192Nm respectively. Mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic, the mill claims a fuel consumption figure of just 7.1L/100km, which is respectable for a car with a relatively old engine and just 6-cogs between it and the wheels.
The engine is a relatively smooth operator though, staying muted and pleasant until you hit really high revs. The automatic slush box isn’t the sharpest in the business, but thankfully higher-end models offer paddle shifters that let you override the transmission and order up the right cog.
“New interior materials, a sunglasses holder, and metallic trim garnishes are said to give the cabin a ‘more premium ambiance’…” - Motoring
It may not be the most plush interior in the world, but it’s certainly functional. The cabin of the Cerato was clearly designed to last the test of time, with the materials employed throughout the interior chosen for their durability rather than their luxury. That said, it isn’t exactly appointed like a Turkish prison, and you get quite a lot for your money considering how sharply-priced the Cerato can be.
It’s plenty commodious too, with great amounts of room up front and in the rear, with the Cerato saloon able to accommodate lankier passengers easily. The rear outer seats are just as comfortable as the pews up front, though they lack the seat ventilation that the front passengers enjoy (on higher trims). There are ISOFIX tethers at the back too to ensure that little ones are securely fastened, while the rear bench can be folded flat for more cargo room.
Behind the Wheel
“Kia Australia revisited steering, suspension and damping properties on both hatch and sedan variants, turning out a more agile and mature ride and handling package.” - Drive
In this segment, the Ford Focus and Honda Civic are the cars to beat when it comes to on-road agility and giggle-factor behind the wheel, and the Kia Cerato doesn’t give either of those cars sleepless nights. The Cerato focuses more on comfort and refinement, and provides an unmuffling experience behind the wheel.
There’s little in the way of noise intrusion at motorway speeds, with the engine and gearbox willing partners for motorway cruising. It’s not the worlds’ most engaging drive, with the Ford Focus and the Mazda 3 offering far more in terms of driver involvement. That said, the comfort the Cerato means it absorbs lumps and bumps better than the Ford and the Mazda, and the 2.0-litre engine provides enough punch for overtaking.
Safety & Technology
“No Cerato has autonomous emergency braking.” - WhichCar
Safety is well catered for with the Cerato, with some six airbags able to protect occupants should the worst occur. Seatbelt reminders for all five pews come as standard, while Si and SLi cars gain niceties like a reversing camera and automatic headlights.
The higher-up models get active safety kit too, with aids like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, while the top-spec SLi gets forward collision and lane-departure warning. Despite this, no model comes with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), with the SLi being only capable of warning drivers ahead of a potential prang. The Cerato holds the same 5-star ANCAP safety rating it received when it first arrived in 2013.
Technology saw a bump with the refresh of the Cerato, with a 7.0-touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay available on the Si upwards, along with satellite navigation. The improved infotainment system is a vast leap forwards over the system available previously, which was neither intuitive to use nor pleasing to behold. Goodies like keyless entry and go, electric drivers’ seat, and dual-zone climate control continue to be reserved exclusively for the SLi though, which helps it justify its price.
The Kia Cerato continues to win hearts in our market, with its sales figures progressively growing. The Cerato is a great example of how much better Korean cars have become, as the combination of style, refinement, and safety continues to see it hold its own against competitors like the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3. While its competitors have steadily moved to offer greater agility and driver involvement in their cars, the Cerato has remained steadfast in its appeal to those who want a comfortable ride, like the kind you’d get in a car that’s one or two segments bigger.
With three trim grades to choose from and two gearboxes to pair up to the sole engine choice, deciding on which Cerato is best for you is a question of budget and necessity. While the top-spec SLi gets our recommendation thanks to its list of active safety technology, the Si actually packs enough convenience features to keep most people happy, while the S is more than adequate for budget-conscious buyers (though we’d recommend speccing up the infotainment system to the 7.0-inch touchscreen).
Alternatives in this segment like the Mazda 3 offer a better drive, while the new Hyundai i30 might be considered a better looking proposition. That said, there is a reason why the Kia Cerato sells as well as it does, so we’d definitely recommend shortlisting it if you’re shopping on this end of the market.
WhichCar – 4.0/5.0 – “The smart sedan and hatchback have stylish cabins and drive nicely, especially since Kia improved the ride and steering with a May 2016 update. The warranty is seven years, and the more expensive Ceratos offer active safety aids among a long list of features.”
CarAdvice – 8.0/10 – “It’s comfortable, practical, an engaging drive and feels a lot more expensive than it actually is. The Kia Cerato continues to impress.”
CarsApproved – 4.2/5.0 – “Over the last 20 years or so, Kia Motors has really established itself as force to be reckoned with. Thanks to a strong advertising campaign and a long stretch of producing affordable and reliable cars, Kia has permeated the consciousness of most Australians. One of the cars to truly strike accord with Australians has been the Kia Cerato, and the facelift has yet again shown why Kia is such a favourite with Australian drivers.”
TopSpeed – 4.0/5.0 – “From a quick glance, the updated car isn’t that big of a departure from the outgoing [Cerato], but there are some interesting changes to the front end and the interior.”
Motoring – 77/100 – “Style is nothing without substance, especially in the strong-selling small car segment. Kia knows this, so when it came to revising its third-generation Cerato hatch and sedan range, it balanced some of the former with more of the latter.”
The Motor Report – 3.5/5.0 – “Better than being simply cheap, the Cerato range is decent value, and its new safety features higher in the range make it a reassuring buy. Comfortable, roomy and balanced, the Cerato is an appealingly-styled, well-built small car that is right at home on Australian roads. It’s a sensible option for new car buyers who choose to buy with their heads, and let their hearts follow.”