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Kia's trendy family pick

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post experiences the upcoming Cerato.

Stylish new Kia sedan driven

2009-09-09 07:46
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Kia
Model Cerato
Engine 1.6-litre DOHC, four-cylinder with CVVT; 2.0-litre DOHC, four-cylinder with CVVT
Power 91 kW @ 6 300 r/min; 115 kW @ 6 200 r/min;
Torque 157 Nm @ 4 200 r/min; 194 Nm @ 4 300 r/min
Transmission five-speed manual or four-speed automatic
Zero To Hundred 10.3 s; 9.3 s
Top Speed 190 km/h; 200 km/h
Fuel Tank 52 l
Fuel Consumption 6.6 l/100 km; 7.7 l/100 km
Weight 1 680 kg; 1 720 kg
Boot Size 415 l
Steering electric power steering
ABS with EBD
Airbags front, side and curtain
Tyres 205/55 R16 tyres (1.6 litre); 215/45 R17 tyres (2.0 litre)
Front Suspension Fully independent by Macpherson struts, with coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers. Anti-roll stabiliser bar.
Rear Suspension Coupled torsion beam rear axle, with coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers.
Price from R179 995

Hailey Philander

Kia has been trading on the reliability and quality at value for money ticket for a long time, but its design has, quite frankly fallen dramatically short, bordering almost on boring.
Well, the Korean manufacturer is on a quest to change that, conscripting Peter Schreyer (renowned designer and the guy who penned the first generation Audi TT) into its ranks to inject that much-needed excitement.

The new generation Cerato is one of the first models in the Kia line-up to receive the Schreyer treatment - and are we glad it did.

Going by appearances alone, this Cerato is something else. Where its predecessor appeared to have been a product of the accidental school of styling, new Cerato's design, while there is something generic about it, is purposeful, a lot more dynamic and infinitely more attractive.

The front end adopts the new face of Kia with its chiseled light clusters and gaping grille, while at the rear the high waisted boot treatment and oversized tail lamp clusters add some character. Although there may not be much room for imagination in the traditional three-box design, lines and creases come together quite nicely on Cerato for a design that is mostly pleasant.

The interior is not bad either, with materials appearing to be of a fairly high standard for this segment. Fit and finish, too, seems fair. I did have my issues with the front seats  though, which were shallow with an unyielding seat back that just would not allow me to get comfortable.

Room for more

Thanks to a longer wheelbase, the cabin is quite roomy and Kia claims it is now class leading. Front legroom and shoulder room at the front and rear have marginally increased and the cabin's space is convincing enough, even without these claims.

Both 1.6 and 2.0 versions of the sedan are comprehensively equipped with satellite steering controls, air conditioning, electric windows, front and rear fog lamps, and a six-speaker audio system with MP3 compatibility and iPod connectivity.

The high-specced 2.0-litre model adds nice-to-haves such as rear parking assistance, cruise control, leather upholstery and a "supervision cluster" providing trip computer readings within the instrument cluster.  

Safety equipment within Cerato's reinforced shell includes active head rests, six airbags, ventilated disc brakes coupled with ABS and EBD.

Driving the Cerato was an interesting exercise. Firepower is provided by a choice of either 1.6- or 2.0-litre 16-valve four-cylinder petrol units with CVVT continuously variable valve timing.

While I never got around to driving the range-topping 2.0-litre, the 1.6 was a fair performer on a mix of mostly B roads. However, I found the steering feedback through the speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion system to not be to my liking. The weighting on this electric system was odd; much too light at speed which allowed too much play when battling the howling gales and driving rains of the resident Cape cold front.

Cerato rides on a revised McPherson strut and torsion beam combination and the ride is certainly skewed towards the comfortable edge of the spectrum, casually bordering on floating, even.

Prepare for Koup

A five-speed manual gearbox is standard across the range and, mated with the 1.6-litre (which develops 91 kW and 156 Nm), made short work of the hilly terrain with a few timed gear changes.

It does require a rev or two to get going, although Cerato seems infinitely more comfortable just pottering about. Of course, it helps that shifts through the five-speed 'box are assured, leaving the driver to concentrate on more important things, like taking in the scenery.

For even more leisurely pursuits, a four-speed automatic can be specified at an extra R10 000.

However, if you'd prefer a fun injection, brace yourself for the two-door Cerato Koup that arrives in South Africa from October.

Lower, wider, shorter and lighter than the standard Cerato, the Koup will be available with the 115-kW 2.0-litre engine only. Also comprehensively equipped, the Koup is meant to appeal the young and sporty crowd looking to make a more "emotional" purchase. The price for the Koup, when it arrives, will be R210 000.

For now, the Cerato seems to be a fair addition to the increasingly crowded C-segment but trading on Kia's value-for-money ticket, should quite soon feel at home.


1.6 EX - R179 995
2.0 SX - R199 995

All Ceratos come with a five-year/100 000 km warranty, a four-year/90 000 km service plan and roadside assistance for up to three years.

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