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Kia’s small car overhaul

Rondo rennovation: New model looks less like a people mover.

Change rings in for Cerato small car and Rondo people mover

Kia logo7 Mar 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in GENEVA

KIA will overhaul its entire Korean-sourced small car line-up ahead of a slew of European niche products due in 2014.

Kicking off in April is an all-new third-generation Cerato sedan, replacing the current series that marked a profound shift in the brand’s design language on its local release in early 2009.

Pricing has yet to be revealed, but the redesigned and re-engineered four-door is expected to target the recently reintroduced Nissan Pulsar sedan’s $19,990 starting point.

The closely related second-generation Rondo arrives later in May, sporting a less overly ‘people mover’ appearance despite its three-row configuration.

Available in new 100kW/330Nm 1.7-litre CRDi diesel as well as much-improved, 130kW/211Nm 2.0-litre petrol powerplants for the first time, the front-drive Rondo is described by Kia as a ‘5+2’ seater, with the third row reserved for smaller children or adults on shorter journeys.

The latter is due to the Rondo’s marked downsizing, making it shorter by 20mm, narrower by 15mm, and some 40mm lower – even though Kia says the newcomer’s longer wheelbase and pulled-forward windscreen actually liberate more cabin space overall.

The second half of the year will be just as busy for the company’s revitalised small-car rollout, with the new Cerato five-door set to join its sedan sibling in July – just in time to tackle Nissan’s Pulsar hatch.

Except for the obvious bodystyle differences, the likelihood is that engine and suspension specifications will be identical between the Kia small cars.

This means a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, six-speed manual or automatic transmission options, electric power steering, MacPherson strut front suspension, and a torsion beam rear end.

As with most Kias currently available, the small car’s chassis will have substantial local testing and tuning in order to improve dynamic and refinement attributes.

But the Cerato invasion will not end there, as the Koup two-door coupe is scheduled to surface in Australia in the last quarter of this year – little more than six months after making its debut at this month’s New York motor show.

Next year will be a busy time for Kia’s small-car ambitions, with the next-generation Soul – previewed at the Sydney motor show as the Track’ster Concept – and possibly even the Slovakian-built Cee’d SW wagon joining its Pro_cee’d GT stablemate as fresh niche models for Australia.

Kia’s 2013 small-car roll call

Cerato sedan: April

Rondo 7: May

Cerato hatch: July

Cerato Koup: October

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