12 April 2019

Kia Cerato 2019 Car Review

This handsome beast is Kia’s fourth-generation Cerato, launched in both sedan and hatch formats in February 2019.


Cerato 1
Kia Cerato 2019
Cerato 2
Kia Cerato 2019
Cerato 3
Kia Cerato 2019
Cerato 4
Kia Cerato 2019
Cerato 5
Kia Cerato 2019
Cerato 6
Kia Cerato 2019

Kia says the model owes its lines to the influence of the bigger Stinger – certainly it looks good enough that a number of normally car-immune onlookers commented, favourably. Our test vehicle – the $41,990 GT hatch – is the hero of a four-variant line-up which starts with the $31,990 LX.

All the latest Cerato versions come with auto emergency braking that recognizes pedestrians and cyclists, adaptive cruise, driver attention alert, lane keep assist, tyre pressure monitoring, engine stop start, a rear view camera with front and rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, a speed limiter, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition and Bluetooth connectivity.

And all but the GT employ a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine matched to a six-speed auto. But this fire-orange hottie fields a 1.6-litre turbo with 38 additional kilowatts of power, and another 73Nm of torque. Better still, that torque punch – delivered via a seven-speed auto – is available anywhere from 1500 to 4500rpm, so it’ll haul virtually from idle on up. Better yet, you’re playing among 80 per cent of that torque even before you’ve hit 1500rpm, which means that if you want to drive vigorously you’ll really feel this car’s vim even at round-town speeds, pulling away from junctions, from lights, or from gnarly back-road corners. Fortunately that urge has been well corralled, and you never feel those front wheels are struggling to manage it all.

In short, this isn’t just an everyday hatch, as it also introduces the possibility of driving fun. With that in mind it does have a ‘Sport’ mode, which sharpens steering and gear shifts – the brakes are already sharper, thanks to larger vented front discs – but we soon stopped bothering with it as the middle-ground ‘Comfort’ seemed to work just fine, and the 1.6-litre wasn’t too thirsty in everyday cruise mode so we didn’t even use Eco that much, though you can – it reduces response to the accelerator, lightens the steering and tweaks gearshift patterns.

All today’s Cerato models sit 5mm lower than their predecessor, but the GT drops an additional 5mm closer to terra firma, which combined with that fastback silhouette helps its purposeful look. But some changes are practical, too. Though the wheelbase remains the same car’s rear overhang is up 140mm, most of that extra going into the 428-litre boot, which imparts 11% more luggage space than before. And it’s useful space – we carried an electric ride-in toy car back there, not small on its own, plus enough luggage for a few days away, and plenty of space to spare, all eased by the fact that the row-two seats fold flat. The slightly taller body has added 4mm to head room, and front passengers get a barely noticeable 3mm more leg room – suffice it to say our tallest passengers found it easy to get comfy.

When driving, you’re more likely to notice the grunt on tap, of course – but this GT seemed equally happy to cruise, relatively quietly and smoothly. As for handling, while other Ceratos get McPherson strut front and a tubular beam rear axle set-up, the GT has a unique fully independent multi-link rear. The result is confident handling, even at speed, albeit a slightly jiggly ride – if you’re fussy. Certainly it’s not jiggly enough for discomfort, and never demands too much of a performance compromise for everyday errands.

In fact that more or less describes the whole car. Open the door and the cabin suggests a sporty edge enhanced by those orange accents. Yet it’s also comfortable, even long distance – we managed a 4.5-hour stint in it and emerged as comfy as when we started. It feels spacious, and all the bells and whistles are easy to use and close to hand.

The seats in this GT are both heated and cooled, and we did use both at this time of year – cooling after the afternoon sun over-heated the black leather while we were out, heating first thing, before the air had warmed. The driver gets electrical adjustment, there’s an eight-inch touchscreen audio with eight speakers, satnav, Bluetooth hands-free, a wireless phone changer, indeed pretty much everything the modern driver could want, without getting silly about it.

And that’s the Cerato GT in a nutshell. Handsome in a rakishly sporty way without being OTT, plus enough grunt and handling skills to please most, without making the sort of harsh performance compromises few will want to live with on the daily.

At a glance

Models

Kia Cerato GT

Engine

1.6-litre Turbo Gdi petrol

Price

$41,990

ANCAP safety rating

5

Power and Torque

150kW at 6000rpm, 265Nm at 1500-4500rpm

Transmission

Seven-speed, dual-clutch auto

Fuel economy

6.8l/100km

Towing capacity

1100kg braked, 610kg unbraked

2WD/4WD/AWD

2WD front

Seating capacity

5

Luggage capacity/payload

428 litres all seats in use

Safety systems

  • Auto Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cycle recognition
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Blind Spot Detection
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Driver Attention Alert
  • Reversing camera with dynamic guidelines
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
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