STORY JOHN EWING
With over a third of local Kia sales chalked up to Cerato, making it their most popular model, it sounds like classic understatement on the part of Kia Australia executives when they say it’s “an important car for Kia”.
And after driving the new and improved Cerato sedan at its recent launch in the Barossa Valley, our impressions are that it has the credentials necessary to grow Cerato’s popularity.
Those after a hatch will have to wait till the back-end of the year for the new model to arrive or buy the current version which will be sold beside the new sedan until then.
The new, third-generation BD Cerato sedan features an all-new and stronger, more rigid body with styling cues borrowed from the sexy-looking Stinger sports sedan, plus new underpinnings including redesigned suspension. Comfort, convenience, refinement and safety have all been boosted in the new car too.
The Nu-series 2.0-litre MPI petrol (112kW, 192Nm) engine carries over from the superseded model and is mated to either a six-speed manual (available in base S specification only), or a mildly revised version of the existing Kia designed six-speed auto denoted as Gen II (all grades, including the S).
With the new model gaining around 19kg in overall mass, fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions have defied typical new model trends and risen marginally. Official combined consumption for the auto model is now 7.4 litres/100km (+ 0.2 l/100km).
The new sedan has grown slightly in most external dimensions and offers a touch more cabin and boot space. Increased use of high-strength steel and structural adhesives improves body strength and rigidity enhancing safety, vehicle dynamics, and reducing NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) for a quieter cabin.
The interior is very obviously sporting a more contemporary look and enhanced quality of
finish than the second-generation model. All models now feature a larger ‘floating design’ 8” LCD touch-screen infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both with voice recognition) and DAB+ digital radio as standard. Navigation with 10 years MapCare and SUNA live traffic updates is standard on the mid-spec Sport and top-of-the-range Sport+.
Comfort is enhanced thanks to new design seats with redesigned frames and denser foam padding, plus a revised and re-positioned centre front armrest.
Updates to suspension and steering have improved the Cerato’s road manners. Like other Kia models, Kia Australia’s local suspension tuning team have optimised ride and handling for local conditions and driver preferences, resulting in uniquely Australian suspension settings.
A range of engineering measures have been employed to reduce NVH and make the car quieter for occupants too.
Safety has come in for attention with some new safety features on offer. Six airbags, including full length curtain airbags are standard on all models. The airbags are a later generation design that is ‘de-powered’ thereby reducing inflation power helping lower the likelihood and severity of any possible injuries from deployment. All Cerato sedans now include front and rear park sensors, rear-view camera, lane-keep assist, autonomous emergency braking (vehicle detection) with forward collision warning, and driver attention alert.
There are two safety option packs available. For $1000 buyers of S and Sport models can add the more advanced Fusion II AEB system that can recognise pedestrians and cyclists in addition to vehicles, smart cruise control, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, folding mirrors and leather steering wheel. Sport+ buyers for an extra $550 can add blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert (the other items in the first pack are standard on Sport+).
The new-comer hasn’t been ANCAP crash tested yet, though Kia officials are hopeful that testing might be completed within the next few months.
Kia are offering the Cerato sedan at sharp driveaway prices with the S manual at $19,990, and the S auto at $21,490. The remaining models are auto only with drive-away prices for the Sport of $23,690 and Sport+ at $26,190. Premium paint will add $520.
The new Cerato sedan is a significant step forward over its predecessor, looks like good value, and feels sufficiently capable on the road to live up to the expectations of most buyers in the small car segment. The backing of a seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty will have its own attractions too.