Based on the just-completed ‘Ashes’ tour of England, the Kia Cerato sedan wouldn’t be wearing the ‘Baggy Green’. Because while the Australian ‘All-Rounders’ were less than optimal, the Cerato is an all-rounder that’s very good.
Think about it: great looks (inside and out), great quality (inside and out), great driving dynamics (performance and ride/handling), great practicality and great value for money.
We’re not missing anything here are we? Can you realistically ask any more from a vehicle range which starts at just $19,990 and maxes-out at $27,990?
Kia Cerato SLi Sedan Overview
Of course the answer is a resounding “no,” and, in the case of the Kia Cerato sedan SLi tested here by CarShowroom.com.au…well not so long ago some of its technology and features were exclusive to larger, mega-buck prestige European sedans.
With a sticker price of just $29,990, the SLi model Kia Cerato sedan (six-speed automatic) – all-new third generation range launched earlier this year - scores extras such as very nicely styled 17-inch alloy wheels, a colour TFT LCD instrument cluster, leather upholstery (front seats heated and electric adjustment for the driver including lumbar support) HID headlights and LED DRLs, LED rear lights, steering wheel paddle shifters for automatic models and a glass sunroof.
All Kia Ceratos come standard with features previously restricted to premium vehicles such as a reversing camera, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and projector-style headlights.
Kia Cerato SLi Sedan Engine
The SLi model Kia Cerato sedan is exclusively powered by Kia’s direct-injection 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. Maximum power is 129kW at 6500rpm and peak torque of 209Nm arrives at 4700rpm.
You can get the Kia Cerato SLi sedan with a six-speed manual transmission for $27,990 but our test car was fitted with the six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters for sequential manual changes.
Combined cycle fuel consumption for the auto model tested is rated at 7.4l/100kms.
Kia Cerato SLi Sedan The Interior
We got a bit startled when we first climbed into the Cerato SLI – the TFT colour LCD instrument cluster strikes-up a musical introduction, accompanied by a nice graphical image of the vehicle (front-on when entering, rear-on when exiting). A nifty technological surprise you don’t expect in this league.
The other big surprise is interior space. Perhaps reflecting its North American design origins, the latest Kia Cerato embarrasses some larger mid-size sedans with its rear-seat leg-room and practicality (we know because we had a rival brand mid-size sedan in our garage at the same time).
Kia says head-room front and rear is also up on the previous Cerato sedan.
As well as that colourful high-tech instrument cluster, our SLi model Kia Cerato sedan benefitted from nice leather seats (electronic adjustment for the driver) and a sun-roof as major inclusions in its lengthy list of extras.
Rake and reach adjustment for the steering ensures a nice driving position and there’s a real quality look and feel about the trim.
Luggage capacity is likewise impressive at 482-litres (six litres more than the outgoing model).
Kia Cerato SLi Sedan Exterior & Styling
In a sign of the times, design for the all-new Kia Cerato sedan was undertaken at the Korean giant’s North American design facility in Irvine, California. Both Kia and sister company Hyundai are dividing their design work between Europe and North America.
We’re big fans of the Cerato’s style. The longer wheelbase (now 2700mm, the same as the Sorento SUV) and reduced front and rear overhangs as well as the forward-shift for the A-pillar has delivered a modern and classy look further highlighted by the thoroughly contemporary designs for front and rear lights.
First impressions were confirmed by the tape measure too – the all-new Kia Cerato is significantly lower (25mm) and wider (5.0mm) and this gives it a rear sporty flavour.
Not surprisingly, aerodynamics are improved – the drag Cd down to 0.27.
Kia Cerato SLi Sedan On The Road
Kia’s 2.0-litre petrol engine is a pearler, combining with the six-speed automatic transmission to give the Cerato real zip.
Same for the Australian-developed suspension calibration which gives the Cerato a slick, sophisticated set-up with great damping/spring rates for a dynamic driving dynamic.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop our Cerato SLi was balanced, flat and responsive to throttle changes at the limit.
Around town there was handy acceleration for freeway merging and good visibility for easy parking.
Kia Cerato SLi Sedan Challenges
Kia went to great lengths to improve the refinement of the third-generation Cerato (including lining the engine bay, sound insulation for the cabin floor, boot, parcel shelf, wheel arches, A-pillar and side sills plus a dynamic damper for the driveshafts) and overall our SLi sedan was impressively quiet. Curiously, tyre noise was noticeable when cruising on secondary rural roads.
Kia Cerato SLi Sedan Verdict
We rated the previous Kia Cerato very highly and, all things considered, we’re elevating the all-new third generation to ‘CarShowroom.com.au Favourite’ status (alongside the Ford Focus in this segment).
We like the looks, we like the spacious and well-appointed interior and we like the sporty driving dynamics. The third-generation Kia Cerato enjoys a much more sophisticated overall package than its predecessors and, as always, Kia has the pricing spot-on.
Kia Cerato SLi Sedan The Competition
In this ultra-competitive market segment, it’s vital to take the time to check the features of each model in detail to get a grip on the true value comparisons. Important to note we’re writing this review just weeks before the segment best-selling Mazda3 is replaced by an all-new model range which we’ve not driven.
Ford’s German-origin Focus sedan is a CarShowroom.com.au favourite and the range-topping Titanium model sedan is a pearler, but not cheap at $32,990. With 125kW/202Nm, Ford’s excellent 2.0-litre petrol engine gives the Kia Cerato SLi a run for its money.
The all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza must definitely be on your shopping list ($31,490 for the S model sedan). But, like others here the Impreza’s 110kW/196Nm 2.0-litre engine is a tad short of the Kia Cerato SLi for grunt.
Others on our list would be the Toyota Corolla ($31,990 for the 2.0-litre Ultima model) and Nissan Pulsar ($29,490 for the Ti).
Honda’s Civic is a good-looker and the VTi-LN (‘N’ for navigation) is handily priced at $29,590. Just 103kW/174Nm from Honda’s 1.8-litre engine however.