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Detroit show: Kia outs new Cerato

Stung: The new Cerato is based on the same basic underpinnings as the outgoing model, but gains styling inspired by the Stinger.

Heavily revised Cerato gets mini-Stinger design, carryover powertrain

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Kia logo16 Jan 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in DETROIT

KIA has used its Stinger performance car as the design inspiration for its new Cerato small sedan unveiled at the Detroit motor show this week.

Shown in Motown in US-market Forte guise, the Cerato sedan – which is slightly bigger and clearly more authoritative in its stance – will launch in Australia late in the first half of this year, followed by the yet-to-be-revealed hatchback that lands in quarter four.

The new 109kW/179Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘Nu’ Atkinson-cycle engine and continuously variable transmission combination that is making its debut in the Forte will not be offered in Australia as it is a Mexican-built powertrain specifically produced for the US market.

Instead, the Australian-spec Cerato will make do with a carryover 112kW/192Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit that will not be tweaked and offer a choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

It will, however, follow the majority of vehicles in Kia’s local line-up and receive an Australian suspension and steering tune that will be balanced between dynamism and comfort, according to the car-maker.

Kia Motors Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith said the company was hoping to maintain the outgoing Cerato’s keen $19,990 opening price, but it would depend on packaging and whether it would be offered with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard from the base variant up.

“We will try very hard to have a Cerato in at $19,990,” he told Australian journalists. “Whether it be manual or auto we haven’t finalised our pricing strategy at this point in time.

“We haven’t finalised specs, but I think that the need to put AEB into your base models is nearly compulsory. So whilst we haven’t made a decision, I think that the market expects it these days.

“Do you go $19,990 without AEB or $20,490 with AEB? I would probably say that as you get stronger in the marketplace that you go $20,490, but let’s see what happens. But I make the point that I think the market demands that all levels of all vehicles need AEB.

“There are two important factors: $19,990 is important but so is AEB. If we can get both, that would be fantastic. I am not quite sure we can do that.”

From January 1, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) mandates that any passenger car tested that is not offered with AEB will not be eligible for a full five-star safety rating.

Mr Meredith said he expected the new model would further boost Cerato sales, which experienced a huge 43 per cent increase in 2017 (to 18,731 units), rising to fourth place in the segment behind the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Hyundai i30.

“I think we would like to be five to 10 per cent up on what we have been doing with it. We would expect in 2019 – because that will be the first full year – we will probably expect to do 20,000-plus.”

He added that stock of the outgoing model would likely sell out before the arrival of the equivalent new sedan and then the hatch, but predicted sales would still grow this year compared with the record result last year.

“We think we have ordered the right amounts with the old model and the new model,” he said. “When the four door hits we will be able to get reasonable numbers with that, too. We think even in 2018, we will go a little bit better that what we did in 2017.”

The new variant line-up will consist of the S, Sport, Sport Plus and a GT, with the Si and SLi names gone.

While Kia is yet to confirm it, GoAuto believes the GT will be the long-mooted warm hatch Kia Australia has been asking for it is expected to be powered by the 150kW four-pot turbo petrol engine from other spicy models from the Hyundai Group.

Kia says the Cerato sedan’s design was inspired by the Stinger to help give it “a commanding road presence”, with the new headlight design and layout following the look of the large performance sedan.

The booted Cerato features a long bonnet and short boot this time around, as well as creases on the bonnet and an all-new look for the front end that includes a fresh take on the familiar ‘tiger nose’ Kia grille.

At the front, separate indicators are housed under the headlights as part of a front apron that includes air curtains to aid aerodynamic performance.

At the rear, the indicators and reversing lights are separated from the tail-lights, and the Cerato follows the Sportage SUV in featuring a horizontal trim piece that connects the tail-lights.

Overall length has increased by 81mm to 4641mm, while the new Cerato is 18mm wider and about 13mm taller than the outgoing model that went on sale in Australia in 2013. Kia has also moved the cowl point back by 127mm.

Kia says the larger proportions have made for more legroom, headroom and more cargo space than the outgoing model.

The wider proportions help create the look of a wider dashboard layout and Kia says the horizontal theme of the cabin, again inspired by the Stinger, makes for a more open space, with fewer buttons and less clutter than before.

Some controls are situated under the 8.0-inch colour touchscreen that sits atop the centre stack, and the aeronautical-themed circular air vents first seen on the Stinger are featured in the Cerato, as well as more soft-touch materials.

The new Cerato is also said to benefit from easier ingress and egress and improved forward visibility, compared with the outgoing model.

The new Cerato is based on the same structure as the outgoing model, but with a number of changes designed to improve ride, handling and cabin noise.

The structure has been strengthened, with 54 per cent made up of advanced high-strength steel, while the body in white is 16 per cent stiffer than before thanks to an increase in overall rigidity.

Inside, the seat frames are stronger and lighter for a more comfortable seating position.

The motor-driven power steering system has been tweaked to reduce the artificial steering feel and friction, while updated suspension geometry has ensured a “quick and nimble behind-the-wheel feel”, according to Kia.

Changes to the throttle and brake feel have also made for smoother response and a shorter stopping distance than the current model.

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