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Kia Cerato Car Review

Author: NRMA MotoringDate: 1 February 2005
Kia Cerato 2005

The Kia Cerato is the new model in the Kia range. It replaces the previous models; Spectra, Shuma and Mentor. As well, it gives Kia a fresh contemporary entrant into the competitive small vehicle market segment that just about every manufacturer has a model on sale. The Cerato is available as a four door sedan only at this point, a sporty hatch version is expected out later in 2005.

Value for money


The Kia Cerato is priced at $18,990 drive away for the manual version, and $20,990 drive away for the automatic version. There is only one specification level and the only option is metallic or mica paint for an additional $150.

Standard features

The Cerato is sold with a comprehensive list of standard features especially for a new vehicle in this class. The Cerato comes standard with air conditioning, electric windows with automatic down function on the driver's window, electric external mirrors, power steering, cruise control, remote central locking and a CD player with six speakers. 

Design & function

Space & practicality

Cabin storage is good for this sized vehicle, and whilst it hasn't got the largest interior space in its class front occupant space is generous, likewise the rear will sit three across with reasonable ease. Large drink bottles can be stored in the door pockets. There is a storage binnacle in the centre of the dash that can take small items. Though, the bottom surface needs to be non slip to stop items from rolling around.


The front seats in the Cerato have a flat seat base that lacks any real support. The backrests are a little better offering slightly more support to shoulders. The rear seats could also do with some additional thigh support. The air-conditioning vents provide plenty of volume especially at low speeds


When seated behind the wheel the Cerato feels like most small cars in its class. It has a user friendly layout with enough seat adjustment for all shapes and sizes. Front vision is especially good. There are a couple of annoying points though, the steering wheel isn't central to the driver's seat and the handbrake is in an awkward position in the centre console. If the handbrake is on and reverse is selected the gear lever can hit the hand brake. Instruments are large and easy to read; at first glance the engine temp gauge and the fuel gauge look the same and can be initially a little confusing.


The Cerato comes standard with driver's and passenger's front air bags. The seat belts have pre tensioners and load limiters fitted. ABS brakes are now available as an option.

Build quality & finish

The build quality and finish is average for this class of vehicle. The paint quality on major panels on the test vehicle was consistent, although door opening apertures were less so with some openings a little patchy. The boot area was trimmed and well finished, the interior trim was let down slightly by the interior carpet which appeared to be of fairly low quality and may not wear well.


The Cerato has an engine immobiliser and remote central locking as standard, and receives a security rating of 52 out of 120 which is above average for its class.

On the road


The engine and transmission package has been around in various guises for a while now it's not the latest technology by any stretch and its fuel economy reflects this as well, on test the Cerato returned 9.litres per 100kms on our city cycle and 8.litres per 100kms highway.


The 2 litre engine develops 101kW at 6,000 rpm and 182Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. The manual tested proved to be a willing performer, with the transmissions ratios suited to the engines torque characteristics. One minor criticism of the transmission was the narrow gear lever gate. Between first and third gear, on up shifts into third gear it felt as though first was being selected, not a desirable trait!


The ride quality was soft and forgiving thanks to a front McPherson strut and rear multi-link design that has plenty of travel built in. This travel insulated the driver and passenger from all but the harshest and largest potholes.

Handling & steering

Power steering is standard on the Cerato and is hydraulically operated. At low speeds it's light enough to make even the tightest car park spaces a breeze. The downside is, that at speed there is no real feedback to the driver and when hurried along the soft ride becomes lurchy which makes the Cerato feel a little unbalanced and flighty especially through tight twisting sections of road.


Braking is the one area that Kia's rivals outpoint the Cerato. The lack of ABS on our test car meant that stopping distances recorded were greater than many similar sized vehicles tested recently. The Cerato has four wheel disc brakes, 275mm ventilated at the front and 258mm solid discs on the rear. The brakes were light in operation but unfortunately gave little indication of lockup during emergency stops.

Smoothness & quietness

Kia claims to have made reductions to interior noise levels compared to the previous models and on test the new Cerato proved to be the equal of many in its class. The Cerato is built on a new platform which has given the designers freedom to incorporate the latest thinking in the reduction of noise levels. The floor pan is curved, new plastic engine mounts used, and the engine/transmission position in the engine bay improved all in an effort to reduce NVH levels.


There are plenty of vehicles to choose from in this competitive market segment. Some vehicles in this class have been on sale for a long time. and are from established manufacturers that build excellent value into their cars. This new vehicle from Kia is also excellent value. Its keen drive away pricing will win plenty of fans but importantly the Cerato adds a new fresh design to the mix. It is a comfortable, easy to drive vehicle that should be included to the shopping list of buyers looking at cars in this category.

Test vehicle supplied by Kia Australia.

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Quick Facts

Make Kia
Model Cerato
Category Small
Year 2005
Body type Sedan
Price of vehicle tested $18,990

High level of specification
Excellent initial drive-away pricing


Carpet quality
Cabin ergonomics

Country of manufacture Korea
Warranty 3 years/100,000km
Models Available



Manual: $18,990 drive away
Automatic: $20,990 drive away



Number of cylinders 4
Engine size 1.975 L
Induction Fuel injection
Fuel ULP
Claimed max power (kW) 101 kW @ 6000 rpm
Claimed max torque (Nm) 182 Nm @ 4000 rpm


Type Manual


Wheel type Steel
Wheel size 15" x 6 "


Type Hankook
Dimensions 195/65x15
Spare tyre type Full size


Type Power assisted rack and pinion
Turns to lock 2.8 m
Turning circle (measured) 10.0 m


Mass 1294 kg
Length 4480 mm
Width (including mirrors) 1753 mm
Height 1470 mm
Seating capacity 5
Fuel capacity 55 litres


Max towed mass (trailer plus load) 850 kg

NRMA Theft Rating

Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best) 52

Acceleration - Test results

50 - 80km/h 6.5 secs
60 - 100km/h 7.1 secs
0 - 80km/h 6.9 secs
0 - 100km/h 10.6 secs

Fuel Consumption

Best recorded during testing 8.0 L/100km
Worst recorded during testing 9 L/100km
Average on test 8.5 L/100km


Distance to stop (from 80km/h) 31 metres


Interior noise at constant 80km/h 68 dB(A)

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