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Kia Cerato First Drive

Author: Tim RobsonDate: 26 August 2013
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Kia Cerato hatch

The basics

The Cerato range sits on the same basic FWD platform and consists of a sedan, soon-to-be-launched coupe and the five-door hatchback we're testing today. Kia says that the hatchback will become the volume seller, as it is in other markets around the world.

As you'd expect, all three cars are very similar, and Kia has wisely carried the same spec level nomenclatures over from the sedan. The range starts at a RRP of $20,990 plus on-roads, but expect to see an opening marketing salvo of $19,990 drive away for the base manual (Cerato S).

First Impressions

The third-generation car is a handsome hatch from all angles, with a terrifically appointed interior to match. It's longer, taller and - impressively - up to 61kg lighter than the car it replaces, with an increase in legroom, headroom and luggage space across the board.

We tested the top-spec GDI, and came away thoroughly impressed with the execution and quality to the interior; it looks and feels like a much more expensive package. The leather-wrapped wheel is a perfectly-sized beauty, the leather seats are supportive and visibility is great, thanks in part to portholes in the A-pillars. All of your touch points are padded too, which is a nice touch. The rear seats are trimmed to the same high standards, too, and there's air vents for the rear passengers.

Spec-wise, it wants for absolutely nothing; the cooled AND heated electric driver's seat even sports a memory function, while dual power outlets, a USB port and a line-in port covers any device you can think of. Sat-nav is a $1000 option that you can probably leave off the spec sheet, while adding an auto box will cost $2000.

It's powered the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that's shared across Kia and parent company Hyundai. Rev it and you'll wince, but the meat of the torque curve arrives at sensible rpms, and it combines with the excellent six speed auto gearbox to waft along nicely without needing to mash pedal to carpet.

On its 17-inch wheels and Nexen tyres, the Cerato displays an excellent level of sophisticated chassis balance, and if you leave the steering button alone, the handling package at pedestrian levels is really well resolved over any surface you can name. The Korean-sourced tyres aren't the last word in feel and quality, so the car's ride and noise can be further improved with a switch to a more premium set of rubber.

What do we think?

While the Rio may still remain Kia's number one seller in Australia, it's the Cerato hatch that carries the flag from the brand around the world. If you're in the market for a decently sized five-door hatchback that won't break the bank, your choice has just become even harder; the Cerato is a real winner at any price point.

Quick Facts

Make Kia
Model Cerato
Category Small
Body type 5-door hatchback

Value for money
Good looks
Excellent NVH levels


Engine and auto transmission lack refinement

Safety equipment

Six airbags, ABS, ESC

Country of manufacture Korea
Priced from $19,990 + ORC



Number of cylinders 4
Engine size 1.8 L
Claimed max power (kW) 110 kW @ 6,500 rpm
Claimed max torque (Nm) 178 Nm @ 4,700 rpm


Type 6-speed manual

Fuel Consumption

Claimed fuel consumption 7.4 L/100km

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