The Cerato follows hot on the heels of the Magentis sedan, Sedona MPV and the Picanto mini-car. Ray Levin, boss of Kia South Africa, says the Cerato range replaces the Shuma and Spectra models.
The car comes with a 1.6 petrol or 2.0-litre diesel engine and is available with manual and auto transmissions.
With the Cerato Kia hopes its attractive pricing will help the company to gain significant market share.
So, has the Cerato what it takes to be a worthy alternative to cars such as the market-leading Toyota Corolla and RunX models?
Well, at first sight there is no doubt the Cerato is a much-improved product when compared to the Shuma. The car, in both sedan and hatch guise, appears stylish and solid.
The interior is also surprisingly of good fit and finish and it features soft-touch plastics and a good quality upholstery fabric (leather is standard on the 2.0 CRDI model).
Furthermore the car's overall ergonomics are good and it also comes well equipped. It has all the bells and whistles such as air-conditioning, electric windows, power steering and an automatic switch-on for the headlights function.
Interior space is good too, especially at the rear. But the Cerato hatchback's boot space is really disappointing, having enough space only for a medium-size suitcase and a small travel bag.
On the road
Well, again the Cerato surprised me and the overall ride is actually not too bad. It is not class leading, but it offers a smooth and composed ride, although uneven surfaces and bumps can upset its posture.
Gear shifting is smooth but needs more refinement - it feels as if it is still stuck in the '90s.
There is also a bit of engine noise at lower speeds, and the diesel especially can get quite vocal. At higher speeds the 2.0 CRDI does quiet down and becomes smooth.
Overall performance for the 1.6 is reasonable while the 2.0 diesel offers an acceptable ride. The 2.0 CRDI comes to justice on the open road, and it is actually quite a nice long distance cruiser.
The Cerato is an improvement on the Shuma - it has much better quality and the ride is reasonable too.
Buyers of Korean cars are usually buying because they offer a lot of car for your money, and the Cerato isn't any different.
Although the Cerato isn't a bad product it is not going to upset the sales of the Toyota Corolla. However, Kia is getting there with the Cerato and it will be interesting what the company's products will be like at the end of the decade.
Furthermore Chevrolet can also learn a thing or two with its Korean-sourced producst such as the Optra from Kia. When you compare the Cerato with the Optra, there is no doubt that the Kia is definitely the better product by far.
The Cerato is a stylish vehicle and it is a job well done for Kia, as it is a marked improvement on the Shuma and Spectra it replaces.
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