Kia Cerato

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Keywords: Kia Cerato
Description: How good is the Kia Cerato to drive, how safe is it, and what do you get? Read the 2015 WhichCar review of the Cerato S, S Premium, Si and SLi.

The Cerato has a stylish cabin, a very long list of features on all but the cheapest model, and a great 2.0-litre engine on the more costly models. Kia’s seven-year warranty adds peace of mind for those considering a small car from this brand, which is still establishing itself as a mainstream player.

The price you get when it comes time to sell it. Because the Cerato is not as well known as alternatives such as the Toyota Corolla or Mazda3, it is likely that potential buyers will be well placed to bargain. Filling it up: some small cars use less fuel.

Four-door sedan and five-door hatchback. (There is also a sportier, two-door version of the Cerato called the Cerato Koup, which is not covered in this review.) The Cerato is front-wheel drive, and is classed as a small car, lower priced.

Cruise control and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Parking sensors front and rear. Six airbags: two at the front; one on each side to protect front-seat occupants in side crashes; and a curtain airbag down each side to protect heads in a side impact. Seatbelt reminders for all five seating positions. A full-sized spare tyre. Electronic stability control, which can help control a skid or slide. All new cars must have this feature. The Cerato has a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

The Cerato that uses least fuel is the least costly sedan, the Cerato S, which consumes 6.6 litres/100km in official tests (urban and country combined). That has the 1.8 litre petrol engine and a manual gearbox. However, every other Cerato consumes about 7.5 litres/100km in the same test conditions, whether it has the 1.8-litre engine (Cerato S or S Premium) or the more sophisticated and pleasant 2.0 litre petrol (Cerato Si or SLi). Since the 2.0 litre engine is also more responsive and powerful, the only reason not to choose it is that it comes only in the more expensive models. The Cerato S sedan and hatchback come with a six-speed manual gearbox; all other Ceratos use a six-speed automatic.

The Cerato S runs on 16-inch steel wheels. The S Premium comes with wheels made from aluminium alloy, which are lighter and look nicer. The S Premium has satellite navigation, displayed on a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen, and a reversing camera. Headlamps switch on automatically at night or in tunnels. There is a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and leather-look trim on the instrument-cluster. The Cerato Si has the better, 2.0-litre engine, leather trim, and other more appealing finishes inside the cabin. A smart key allows you to unlock and lock the front doors without taking the key out of your pocket or bag. ‘Puddle lights’ illuminate the ground near the front doors when you open them. The SLi is the most expensive Cerato and has an electrically operated driver’s seat, a sunroof, heated front seats, and a dual-zone ventilation system (which allows different temperatures to be set for each side of the cabin). It also has bigger wheels and wider tyres with a lower profile, which improve cornering grip and precision.

The lower-profile tyres on SLi models transmit more bump energy to the cabin, because there is less air between the wheel and the road. They could also cost more to replace. There are only two standard colours: red (hatchback only) and white. All other colours cost extra.

The interior of the Cerato is quite dark but it’s done in an elegant way, with chrome highlights and crisp, white instrumentation lifting the look. It’s also ergonomically friendly, from the buttons and switches on the steering wheel to the main audio and circular ventilation controls placed quite high on the dash. The S looks a tad undernourished with its monochrome audio display. The colour touchscreen on other models is more vibrant. The seats offer good support and are quite comfortable, making long stints at the wheel easy. The Cerato is also an easy car to drive. The 1.8 litre engine in the S and S Premium isn’t particularly powerful but will readily keep up with traffic around town. The 2.0-litre engine on more expensive models accelerates faster and feels better at freeway speeds, although it is noisy if you drive it hard. The ride from the Cerato is well controlled and compliant, comfortably absorbing imperfections on the road (even if the 17-inch tyres on the SLi make it noticeably bumpier).

Airbags all around contribute to good occupant protection in a crash, and rear-seat seatbelt reminders add security for people travelling with children or forgetful adults. The reversing camera on all but the S model improves rear vision, while the auto headlamps (again, fitted to all but the S) can switch on before the driver notices they’re required, further enhancing safety. The Cerato does not have the latest active safety features, such as automatic emergency braking. (To see a full list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.) The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded the Cerato its maximum five stars for safety.

While the 1.8-litre engine is adequate, the 2.0-litre is more enjoyable, with extra urge in all situations. The automatic transmission is decisive in its shifts. In SLi models, you even get gear shift paddles on the steering wheel, allowing driver-triggered sequential shifts. As well as being comfortable, the Cerato is very capable when driven hard through corners. It settles quickly after bumps and grips the road well. The adjustable steering system feels too remote, however, providing the driver with too little feedback. In its Sport setting the steering feels artificially weighted and still doesn’t inspire much confidence.

The Cerato has a spacious back seat that’s welcoming for two – or for three small people. Head room is adult-friendly and leg room very good, too. For times when only two passengers are in the back, there is a fold-out arm rest with a pair of cupholders. Only the Si and SLi get rear air-conditioning vents, however.



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