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Driven: New Kia Cerato still from $19,990 driveaway

Fourth coming: The Cerato features Stinger-like styling, but carries over the same 2.0-litre four-pot petrol engine.

Slick styling, more safety and sharp pricing keep Kia’s Cerato sedan competitive

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Kia logo7 Jun 2018

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) has launched its fourth-generation Cerato sedan at a razor-sharp $19,990 driveaway for the S manual, or $1500 more for the corresponding automatic, matching the preceding version’s official manufacturer’s list price, but this time with added active safety gear as standard.
 
Redesigned to evoke the flagship Stinger rear-drive sports sedan, the BD-series Cerato undercuts the related Hyundai i30 (from $19,990 plus on-road costs) and Hyundai Elantra Active (from $21,950), making the South Korean-made small car the cheapest in its segment with this level of safety gear that includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning, lane keeping assist and front and rear parking sensors.
 
KMAu management is confident the latest version will build on the success of the previous Cerato, which rose from 11th in the small-car class at launch with 5785 sales in 2013 to fourth spot with 18,731 registrations last year, behind the top-selling Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and i30.
 
While it has slipped to fifth place in the first five months of this year behind the resurgent Volkswagen Golf, KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith said he believed the latest model’s safety, style, equipment and refinement will propel the Cerato back up to fourth.
 
“Representing one third of all Kia sales in Australia, the Cerato is an incredibly important car for us,” he told journalists at the sedan’s launch in Adelaide this week. “We have a huge reliance on Cerato… and so we’re very serious about the new one.”
 
However, the Cerato that about 65 per cent of buyers are expected to choose – the as-yet unseen five-door hatch – will not arrive until the end of the year, meaning that the new sedan will sell alongside old hatch until the latter runs out of stock.
 
The company’s sixth small car iteration since the debut of its first in-house designed model – the Sephia (Mentor in Australia) – in 1992, the Cerato is almost all-new save for the powertrain, although the transmissions have been extensively revised.
 
Even the model walk-up designations alter, with S, Sport and Sport+ replacing the S, Sport, Si and SLi variants.
 
Like its predecessors, this Cerato was styled at Kia’s Irvine studio in California, with input from Namyang in South Korea, with the sedan’s proportions altering with a more long-bonnet/short boot silhouette than before to give it a sportier look and better aerodynamics, with the drag co-efficiency slipping 0.01Cd to 0.28Cd.
 
Among a host of engineering improvements, the Cerato is stronger than before, with a 16 per cent increase in body-in-white stiffness, brought on by beefed-up A and B pillars, a rise in high-strength steel (up from 34 to 54 per cent), along with new hot-formed steel processes, steel beams capping each end of the subframe, reinforced engine bay side members and a five-fold increase in structural adhesives.
 
Despite retaining the same 2700mm wheelbase, overall length increases 80mm to 4640mm, width expands by 20mm to 1800mm and height grows 5mm to 1440mm. The upshot is a slightly larger passenger compartment in most dimensions and a 20-litre bigger boot to 502L with wider-opening aperture. 
 
The previous full-sized spare wheel has been ditched for a space-saver spare.
 
The Cerato’s dash is now 18mm wider, and with new horizontal design treatments, Stinger-style outboard circular vents and a 68mm higher-sited touchscreen – that is up an inch to 8.0 inches – the goal was to impart a roomier and airier feel. 
 
Kia’s latest multimedia tech debuts, featuring DAB+ digital radio, auxiliary, MP3, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and voice control.
 
Other changes include a 3.5-inch monochrome cluster within the completely redesigned instrumentation, new audio remote controls on the steering wheel, a console armrest that’s now positioned higher, and revamped seats featuring stronger frames, denser foam and better padding for greater comfort and support.
 
Kia says much effort was expended reducing noise, vibration and harshness issues both at idle and at speed, with significantly more sound-absorbing materials and pillar foams introduced. There are also subframe bush axle mounts to cut noise from the front suspension and redesigned aluminium engine mounts to stymie engine-bay vibrations.
 
The Cerato sedan’s sole motivator is a 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ MPI multi-point injected four-cylinder petrol unit known from the previous series, delivering an identical 112kW of power at 6200rpm and 192Nm of torque at 4000rpm. 
 
Tuned for standard 91 RON unleaded, it averages 7.6 litres per 100km on the combined cycle in six-speed manual guise for 172 grams/km of carbon dioxide emissions, or 0.2L/100km and 7g/km better with the completely overhauled six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission that is expected to account for 95 per cent of all Cerato sales. 
 
Four driving modes are now offered, affecting the steering, engine and air-conditioning responses – Sport, Comfort, Eco and Smart. No performance figures were available at launch. Tare weight varies from 1295kg to 1332kg, representing a rise of about 19kg over the old sedan.
 
As before, the completely reworked front suspension consists of MacPherson-style struts and a torsion beam rear axle, while an overhauled column-mounted motor-driven electric power steering system with reduced ‘artificial’ feel and friction has been fitted. Brakes are 280mm ventilated discs up front and 262mm solid discs out back.
 
Kia says the Cerato’s chassis has undergone “thousands of kilometres” of tuning and validation testing on Australian roads to ensure a more comfortable ride, combined with a sporty driving feel, with the data being fed back to the engineering division at Namyang.
 
Aiming for a supple ride, linear steering and excellent handling, according to Kia, the Cerato’s dynamic benchmarks included the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and i30.
 
Expected to be the best seller with around 45 per cent of total Cerato volume, the S includes the aforementioned AEB, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera with guiding lines, a driver-attention alert warning, six airbags (now de-powered for reduced injuries on deployment), tyre pressure monitors, cruise control, speed limiter, 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and phone streaming, air-conditioning, power windows, auto headlights, remote central locking and 16-inch steel wheels.
 
Priced from $23,690 driveaway, the auto-only Sport should be popular with private consumers, as it adds niceties such as satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic and a decade’s worth of free map updates, leather heathed steering wheel and shift knob, softer door trim plastics, quieter wipers, plusher cloth seat upholstery and 17-inch alloys. 
 
Finally, the Sport+ ($26,190 driveaway) brings AEB Fusion II (pedestrian and cyclist recognition), adaptive cruise control, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry and start, leather upholstery, electric folding door mirrors with auto-fold and dual-zone climate control
 
Key options include metallic paint ($520) and two safety packs – Option Pack 1 with AEB Fusion II, adaptive cruise, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, folding mirrors and leather wheel on S and Sport for $1000, or Option Pack 2 with blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert for the Sport+ for $500. 
 
As with all Kias, it is offered with the industry-leading seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, capped-price servicing and roadside assist.
 
Note there is no ANCAP or ENCAP crash-test rating for the Cerato as yet as it is not sold in Europe.
 

2018 Kia BD Cerato sedan pricing

 
S $19,990
S (a) $21,490
Sport (a) $23,690
Sport+ (a) $26,190

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