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Future models - Kia - Cerato

LA show: New Kia Cerato detailed

Not Kia’s Forte: By the time it arrives in Australia early next year, the badge will have changed from Forte to the more familiar Cerato.

First detailed look at imminent new Cerato sedan as Kia reveals US Forte

Kia logo29 Nov 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

KIA today revealed details of its crucial new Cerato small sedan ahead of the Australian launch in April next year, coinciding with its US debut at the Los Angeles motor show.

The company pulled the covers from the sleek US version – where it is badged as the Forte – three months after the first images of the stylistically identical Korean version unexpectedly broke cover in July, and promises class-leading front passenger space and standard equipment levels.

The Australian version, however, will feature some noticeable points of difference, most significantly a less-powerful carryover 2.0-litre MPI petrol engine and an exclusive suspension tune developed on local roads.

The Californian-designed Cerato/Forte is the latest member of the Kia line-up to adopt the brand’s now signature design treatment, and is longer, wider and lower than the model it is set to replace. The wheelbase is 50mm longer at 2700mm – the same as the Sorento mid-sized SUV.

GoAuto was impressed at the LA reveal by the big advances – at least on the US version – in cabin tactility and front/rear legroom over the current model, with an array of soft-touch surfaces and a pleasant and uncluttered instrument fascia the match of any main rival.

The fleet-targeted sedan will be just the first of a trio of new Cerato variants to hit Australian showrooms next year, with a five-door hatch version set to appear at February’s Chicago motor show and a slinky two-door Koup model to emerge two months later in New York.



17 center imageBoth of these models will appear in Australia next year – the hatchback in July and the Koup likely around December – meaning Kia will maintain its position as the only brand Down Under to offer sedan, hatch and coupe versions of the same small car.

While it is too early to confirm local pricing, Kia Australia national public relations manager Kevin Hepworth told us at the reveal in LA that the company could opt to match the sharp $19,990 starting price of rivals such as the Toyota Corolla hatch and forthcoming Nissan Pulsar sedan.

The current Cerato retails from $19,390 plus on-road costs, but run-out versions can be had for $18,990 driveaway.

Mr Hepworth said the company did not anticipate a big jump in pricing between the old and new models.

The Cerato is Kia’s top-selling model in Australia this year, narrowly ahead of the smaller Rio, having grown 42.4 per cent to date to 6961 sales.Once the full new range is released, Kia Australia expects small but consistent growth.

Kia’s US division offers a sporty 130kW/210Nm 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine on higher-specified versions of the sedan, but the Korean-built Australian versions of all three are expected to instead be powered by a tweaked version of the 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ engine used in the current model.

This engine produces 118kW of power (up 3kW) and will be matched to six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

A diesel option appears almost certain to bypass Australia due to tight global supply.

Performance fans will be hoping Kia offers the potent 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo that was yesterday confirmed for the Cerato’s closely-related European cousin – the Pro_Cee’d coupe – in the Cerato Koup.

The sleek new sedan body, which was designed under the direction of former Audi design chief Peter Schreyer, has a slinky 0.27Cd aerodynamic rating.

As expected, a Cerato wagon will not be offered. The biggest market for small wagons is Europe, which does not get the Cerato, but rather the closely related Cee’d.

The European Cee’d wagon is on the Australian radar if supply frees up and the right price can be negotiated.

As we have reported, Kia is presently testing a pre-production Cerato in Australia as the local engineering team headed by consultant Graeme Gambold fine-tunes the suspension and steering for local conditions and tastes.

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