Several years ago Kia Motors was wallowing in the doldrums. Vehicle designs were generic; the model line-up was boring and the cars – quite frankly – ugly. Fast forward to 2013 and things are quite the antithesis with product supply struggling to meet public demand both locally and abroad. Design guru Peter Schreyer has had a lot to do with the brand’s new-found renaissance introducing the tiger nose grille that now differentiates the Korean carmaker from anything else on the road.
The new Cerato continues to push the boundaries with a cutting-edge design and improved overall quality, both inside and out. The new model takes direction not only from Kia’s radical styling palette but also borrows bits and pieces from its siblings, too. Just look at those headlamps and silver strip that runs along the underside of the glasshouse towards the c-pillar – they look almost identical to the items found on the flagship Quoris model. The visuals can be ramped up further with the addition of 17-inch wheels, a chrome exhaust tip, DRL LED head lamps, LED tail lamps and various chrome accents.
Things are equally as impressive inside. Despite being 15mm lower than its forebear the new Cerato is longer (30mm) and wider (5mm) improving head – and legroom while the overall boot capacity of 421- litres puts it top of its class. Emphasis on quality and refinement is clearly evident with soft-touch cladding, soft-grade leather and metallic paint surfaces comprising the cabin architecture. Top spec models get heated front and rear seats, a rake and height adjustable steering wheel, centre arm rest, auto windscreen de-fogger, dual-zone aircon (front and rear) and 10-way power seats. It doesn’t stop here – you can also spec the Cerato with a heated steering wheel complete with FlexSteer, a 4.2-inch TFT display screen and park assist sensors. All very impressive then but how does the Cerato fare on the black stuff?
Very good actually. According to the tech wizards, handling dynamics are vastly improved over the outgoing model due to the 37% increase in torsional rigidity and a revised MacPherson strut front/ torsion beam rear suspension layout but the dead straight roads of Dubai proved futile to test these claims. Two powerful 16-valve engine options will be available to South African customers: a 95kW/157Nm 1.6-litre and an 118kW/197Nm 2.0-litre engine which can be matched to either a six-speed manual or auto transmission. (A 150kW 1.6-litre GDI turbo engine will be introduced later this year with the arrival of Kia Cerato Koup). While both accelerate with relative ease it’s the improved NVH levels that were most impressive throughout the 300km test drive. Kia claims the stiffer body shell and new vibration-damping front subframe mountings are to thank for the quieter ride.
The new Cerato is a bold step forward in terms of quality and performance and will no doubt entice the buying public when it launches locally in May. Pricing is yet to be finalised but is expected to be in line with that of the outgoing model.
Kia Cerato 1.6 SX
PRICE | Not yet ENGINE | 1591cc four-cylinder, 95kW@ 6300rpm, 157Nm @ 4850rpm TRANSMISSION | 6-speed automatic, front-wheel drive SUSPENSION |MacPherson strut, torsion-beam rear LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT | 4560/1780/1445mm WEIGHT | 1192kg PERFORMANCE |11.6 sec 0-100kph, 195kph top speed, 6.8l/100km, 160g/km ON SALE | May