A more radical and stylized interpretation of the compact family saloon by Kia, the new Cerato’s arrival comes after a somewhat short-running but successful predecessor. The second generation of Kia’s most successful nameplate to wear the brand’s distinctive ‘tiger’ grille fascia, the new Cerato C-segment saloon signifies an evolutionary sense of consistency to the quickly ascending Korean maker’s approach to design, but is at the same time both more adventurous-looking than the car it replaces, as well as having a more European sense of style than its Hyundai Elantra cousin, with which it shares a platform.
Offered regionally in a choice of four versions consisting of combinations of two conventional multi-point fuel injection engine and two gearbox options, the Kia Cerato is best with a manual gearbox either way. However, for the comfort and convenience, of an automatic, the 2-litre version’s more generous torque and higher power output is best, and makes up for an automatic gearbox. Sitting exactly in between 1.6 and 2.0 manual versions in terms of headline performance figures, the 2.0 automatic completes the 0-100km/h acceleration benchmark in a timely and confident 9.3-seconds, and can continue all the way to 200km/h.
Developing 159BHP at 6500rpm and 143lb/ft at 4800rpm, the Cerato 2.0 is feels flexible throughout the mid-range, and moves confidently off-the line from idleing engine speed. Smooth and progressive, the Cerato 2.0 is linear and high revving in character, with enough talent to make it smooth and quick despite its conventional and less sporty automatic and being the heaviest Cerato, at 1221kg. With improved noise, vibration and harshness isolation, the new Cerato feels more refined than it predecessor, and while it engine is willing to be revved hard, it is however is not overtly sporty or rev hungry.
A comfortable long-distance driver, the Cerato 2.0 auto is particularly refined at cruising speeds, but isn’t sound-proofed to the point of becoming detached and numb. With a smooth and reasonably quick shifting six-speed automatic, one can also use its sequential shift function to manually control which gear is required, while at cruising speeds, the engine is still responsive enough even in high gears, but dropping down a cog or two gives it more urgency. The thirstiest of the four Cerato combinations, the 2.0 auto still returns an efficient 7.2l/100km rating on the combined cycle and emits 170g/km CO2 combined.
In a segment that features a lot of similar designs and proportions, the new Kia Cerato looks distinctive and fresh, with a gaping and hungry mesh grille and swept back headlights that connect to the grille similar to the BMW 3-Series. A short and low bonnet provides terrific front visibility, while the Cerato’s lengthened wheelbase and noticeably rearward rear axle give it an unconventional sense of dynamism and appeal, but are complemented by a rakishly sloping roofline and high-set rear boot. The high boot and rising waistline detract from rear visibility, but boot space is generous at 421-litres.
Stable and refined at speed and through sweeping corners owing to its long wheelbase and great aerodynamic efficiency, the Cerato is also nippy, maneuverable and agile in town, owing to its long wheelbase, keen steering and good side visibility. Riding on sporty but elegant alloy wheels and 215/45R17 tires, the Cerato is neither too stiff nor soft, but rides with a confident and sporty sense of firmness. The Cerato’s tires and MacPherson front and torsion beam rear suspension also provide good body control through corners and it rebounds tautly from sudden crests and dips on the road.
Smooth, stable and refined on the motorway and city as was to be expected, the Kia Cerato 2.0 auto was also quite eager into corners, with its steering light but sharp, and quick with decent feedback. Though the route taken during the Dubai test drive was mainly straight roads, on the few corners and curving highway ramps, the Cerato’s turned in crisply, with its front wheels digging into a corner, and good body control and grip throughout. Fun and lively when the road rarely got twisty, the new Cerato seems to be a sportier drive, while all-round disc brakes were effective in shaving off speed.
As typical of Kias introduced during the past five years the new Cerato makes a considerable leap forwards in terms of both exterior design and interior styling and appointments. With a comfortable, spacious and supportive driving position, the new Cerato also features well laid out instrumentation and buttons, a chunky steering wheel and even a sporty slightly driver-tilted centre stack. Front and side visibility is good, and while front-side visibility is affected by a rakish A-pillar and sub-pillar, a small quarter window minimizes this. The sharp roof angle does also mean that rear headspace could be better for tall rear adult passengers, but the long wheelbase allows for generous rear leg space.
Business-like and up-market for its class, the Cerato’s interior features good attention to detail and textures, which are soft in the most prominent positions, while fit and finish are of good quality. Well-kitted in base form, the Cerato includes reach and rake adjustable steering. Several extensive options packages introduce other comfort and convenience kit including, MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity, dual zone A/C and glove box cooling, heated seats and steering wheel, 10-way driver’s seat adjustability and ventilation, smart key and welcome lighting, combined Xenon and LED lighting, rear view camera and parking sensors. Safty options include electronic stability control, front passenger, side curtain airbags and child seat anchors.
- Engine: 2-litre, transverse 4-cylinders
- Bore x stroke: 81 x 97mm
- Compression ratio: 10.3:1
- Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC, continuously variable valve timing
- Gearbox: 6-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive
- Ratios: 1st 4.212:1; 2nd 2.637:1; 3rd 1.8:1; 4th 1.386:1; 5th 1:1; 6th 0.772:1
- Reverse / final drive ratios: 3.385:1 / 3.195:1
- Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 159 (161) [118.4] @6,500rpm
- Power-to-weight: 130BHP/ton
- Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 143 (194) @4,800rpm
- Torque-to-weight: 117lb/ft/ton
- 0-100km/h: 9.3-seconds
- Top speed: 205km/h
- Fuel consumption, combined: 7.2-litres/100km
- CO2 emissions: 170g/km
- Length: 4,560mm
- Width: 1,780mm
- Height: 1,445mm
- Wheelbase: 2,700mm
- Track, F/R: 1,553 / 1,566mm
- Overhang, F/R: 880 / 980mm
- Ground clearance: 150mm
- Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.27
- Headroom, F/R: 992 / 948mm
- Legroom, F/R: 1,073 / 913mm
- Shoulder-room, F/R: 1,424 / 1,395mm
- Hip-room, F/R: 1,366 / 1,348mm
- Luggage volume, min: 421-litres
- Fuel capacity: 50-litres
- Kerb weight: 1,221kg
- Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
- Steering ratio: 14.5:1
- Lock-to-lock: 2.96-turns
- Turning Circle: 10.6-meters
- Suspension, F: MacPherson struts, coil springs gas-charged dampers, stabilizer bar
- Suspension, R: Torsion beam, coil springs, gas-charged dampers
- Brakes, F/R: 280 x 23mm ventilated disc / 262 x 10mm disc
- Stopping distance, 100-0km/h: 42.3-meters
- Tires: 215/45R17