Kia’s all-new Cerato sedan has arrived in South Africa, sporting a fresh new look and boasting a host of upgraded equipment, convenience and safety features.
The Korean car maker has made a definite showing for itself, trading on its value-for-money offers on its charge to the top. Now Kia wants to appeal to buyers emotions and develop brand loyalty with its new generation of stunners.
Under the direction of Kia (and Hyundai’s) design guru Peter Schreyer, the look of the third-generation Cerato is polished and sophisticated, incorporating the brand’s tiger grille and a stylish ovoid rear light cluster.
In a sea of C-segments
Kia’s South African representatives mentioned that buyers shopping in the competitive C-segment (a landscape dominated by Corolla, Jetta, Civic, Elantra, Cruze and Focus models) were attracted to better styling, a sprinkling of cool gadgets, high comfort levels, top safety features and good fuel consumption.
To this end, the Cerato is longer (by 30mm) than its predecessor, rides 15mm lower and is 5mm wider, while the wheelbase is longer by 50mm. Contributing to the sedanâs sportier dimensions, the front and rear overhangs are shorter, despite the boot capacity increasing by 67 litres to 482 litres.
Crucially, inside the cabin, the Cerato uses wider front cushions for improved comfort (the hip points are lower for a sportier feel, too) and a clever Flex-Steer steering system with settings ranging from extra-light ‘Comfort’, to ‘Normal’ and a more rigid ‘Sports’ you can toggle between them, depending on your mood.
Two petrol engines and three suspension settings are offered on the Cerato: 95kW 1.6 EX, a mid-spec 118kW 2.0 EX and 2.0 SX. We drove the top-spec 2.0 and were suitably impressed by its comfortable and refined ride, quiet cabin and range of gadgets on display.
At the base level, the 1.6 EX is fitted with air conditioning, auto lights, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, front and rear electric windows, LED daytime running lights and rear bench backs that split 60/40.
Nice and smooth
Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions have been upgraded for use in the Cerato, and the manual version we drove allowed for unhurried yet decisive shifts over the launch route. Additionally, the automatic transmission comes with two operating modes automatic and Sport where the latter allows for sequential manual gear changes.
Cerato rides on an independent McPherson strut arrangement up front coupled to a torsion beam rear axle. The system, Kia says, has been tweaked for improved agility and more refinement, and greater stability at high speeds.
Kia’s Cerato range will be expanded with the addition of the hatchback body style from August, 2013 while the Koup will follow in November. Expect the direct injection 2.0-litre GDI engine to follow towards the end of the year.
Prices include a five-year or 90 000km service plan, a five-year or 150 000km warranty and a three-year roadside assistance plan.
1.6 EX R219 995
2.0 EX R249 995
2.0 SX R279 995
Auto R10 000
Sunroof R6 000
Metallic paint R 1 824