Kia Cerato 1-6 Automatic

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Keywords: kia,cerato,hatchback,auto,hatch,drive,magazine,test,road,1.6,sa,road tests
Description: Lisa Bennett takes the Kia Cerato hatchback 1.6 auto for a lady's perspective on this affordable family model.

I have been driving the new Kia Cerato 1.6 EX auto for the last week. I’ve taken it cruising on the highway. I’ve taken it to the shops and filled it with awkward parcels. I’ve taken it to the park loaded with those little plastic motor bikes every child owns at some point and I’ve taken it to the beach where my kids had a spontaneous mid-winter dip and had to be stripped, redressed and ferried home, giving the entire inside of the car a light sprinkling of fine beach sand. The Kia handled the whole trip remarkably well and I am honestly impressed with it overall.

The car we had in to test was an automatic and, at first, I thought I just wasn’t used to driving an automatic car anymore because the gearbox seemed to be struggling, in the first two or three gears, to keep up with even the most moderately applied pressure on the accelerator pedal. It turns out it wasn’t just me. The gearbox is, unfortunately, a little slow in the first couple of gears, a problem which I’m told by our esteemed editor is greatly exacerbated by the not so feisty 1.6 litre power plant. If you really want an automatic car, you might be better of paying the extra for the 2.0 EX model. I, however, prefer a manual gearbox anyway so I put this issue out of my mind and got on with the business of enjoying the good bits of this car.

Once you get the Cerato out of the boggy marshland of its lower gears and find a good cruising speed, you can sit back and relax. And I have to say, it is a very relaxing ride.  We met the car at a beachside parking lot where I loaded the kids and their paraphernalia and set off on the hour long drive home. The seats in this 1.6 model were covered in a great fabric which looked like it would wear well and I’m told the 2.0 litre model comes standard with leather upholstery.

I didn’t hear a single complaint from the back for the entire journey, which is unusual. I think they may even have dozed off for a little while, something my kids don’t usually do in a car because they’re squirmy little monkeys but the Cerato seemed to have an almost calming effect on them.  I don’t know if it was the smooth, gentle ride or the comfy seats but I don’t really care. I was thankful to the little Kia for the peace. As for my ride, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. The controls are all light and easy to use without feeling as though they might break off at any moment. It’s a dream to steer and the brakes are sensitive without being jerky and sticky.

As far as gadgetry goes, there isn’t very much to get excited about in this model. It comes standard with steering wheel mounted controls for the MP3 compatible CD/Radio system, a feature I had fun with as this was the first car I’ve driven which has had those. I felt like a bit of a yokel exclaiming over this feature I know perfectly well has been standard in quite a number of cars for quite a number of years but, somehow, it was still a little bit exciting having it at my very own fingertips for the first time.  Also standard are USB and iPod jacks, some manually controlled air conditioning and some randomly placed cup holders, as are familiar to Kia owners everywhere. So, not exactly a feast of technological genius but, at R195 000 and some change, are you really going to complain?

So, let’s talk about space. On Tuesday morning I took the Cerato to do my weekly grocery shopping. I took the Cerato because I wanted to see how much shopping it would take and how much space would be left afterwards. If I’m honest though, I also took it because I was already just a little bit attached to it. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I’m one of those people who form emotional attachments to cars. I don’t name them or anything like that but I do get … attached. So, we went shopping.

When I headed for home the hatch was loaded with five 5-litre bottles of water, a mop, a bucket and a week’s worth of groceries and it still looked cavernous. I honestly think I could have put the same in again and then some. It really is a lot of space for a hatchback and it’s not just spacious in the rear. Up front there is nothing cramped or claustrophobic about this car. Each passenger has ample room and my children had no excuses for invading each other’s personal space while ensconced in the back.

And now we come to one of the most important parts of a car review written by a woman: Safety. Although the body panels feel a little flimsy, all models of the new Cerato have crumple zones which are places on the car’s body, particularly in the front and back, which have been designed to absorb most of the impact of a collision. It also comes with an impact sensing auto door unlock feature which I think is a neat thing to have and dual front, side and curtain airbags.  One of my favourite safety features of this car isn’t technically a safety feature at all unless, like me, you’ve recently lived in the hijack hotspot that is Johannesburg. in which case you too will appreciate the speed sensing auto door lock mechanism. I just like the idea that the car will lock itself if I forget to and I won’t ever pull up to a traffic light with my doors unlocked.

So, that’s the new Kia Cerato 1.6. No, it’s not the most luxurious, well appointed, technical car you have the option to buy but I can honestly say I’ve missed it since I gave it back on Monday morning. It’s practical, affordable, spacious and fun.



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