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  • Good looks; ride quality; balanced handling; smooth transmission; quiet; well equipped; interior space; 5-year warranty
  • No satellite navigation option on the lower variants; some plastics feel cheap; some rivals offer auto transmission for similar money as manual

OUR RATING
8 / 10



Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review


The third-generation Kia Cerato is aiming to signal the end of the road for dowdy four-door compact sedans.

With its tight proportions and swooping lines, the Cerato is the latest strong design from Peter Schreyer and draws heavily on the company’s mid-sized Optima, showcasing the same clean lines and plenty of newfound panache.

The Kia Cerato is offered in three in three trims, from the entry-level 1.8L Cerato S that’s a fleet favourite at $19,990, to the $27,990 range-topping 2.0L SLi.

All three variants are generously equipped. Kia has loaded up the Cerato with standards such as front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, foglights, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, electric front and rear windows, remote central locking and a six-speaker audio.

The mid-spec 2.0-litre Kia Cerato Si we’re testing here is priced from $23,990 and adds a 4.3-inch touchscreen LCD display with rear-view camera, auto headlights, push-button start, and electric outside door mirrors with automatic folding function, along with 16-inch alloy wheels.

You can read our review of the entire Kia Cerato range here.

Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review

As the range-topper, the SLi gains 17-inch alloys with larger 215/45 series tyres, leather trim, heated front seats, electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory and ventilation, LED daytime running lights, Xenon headlamps, dual-zone climate control, sunroof and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

There’s also a satellite navigation pack available with the SLi model only, which adds $1000 to the price tag and includes a 7-inch touchscreen, DVD player and satellite navigation multimedia system with SUNA live traffic updates.

With the new-generation Kia Cerato currently only offered as a sedan, its market rivals range from the (closely related) Hyundai Elantra to the Ford Focus, Holden Cruze, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Nissan Pulsar, Subaru Impreza and Toyota Corolla.

However, the launch of a hatch version shortly and a coupe to follow before the end of the year, the Cerato is poised to occupy all corners of the small car segment.

Like the majority of vehicles in the segment, the Kia Cerato’s interior feels more of a medium-size experience than that of a compact sedan, able to effectively ferry around five adults in relative comfort.

But while there’s ample stretch-out space, it’s worth mentioning it’s nowhere near the space offered in the extraordinarily generous Nissan Pulsar.

Regardless, the cloth seats are suitably well bolstered and particularly comfortable even after long stints behind the wheel.

Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review

Boot space is also on the large side, with 421 litres available and expandable with the 60:40 split-fold rear seats.

We also like the ergonomics of the Kia Cerato, particularly the driver-focused dash with the centre stack and heating controls gently angled towards the driver.

The steering wheel is nice and tactile, and adjustable for both tilt and reach. There’s plenty of adjustability in the driver’s seat, too, though it’s manual in the Si trim (electric in the SLi only).

Materials-wise the latest Cerato is a big improvement on the old. Soft-touch plastics cover most of the surfaces regularly touched by passengers, though we’re not so sure about the faux-carbonfibre accents on the dash which look a bit out of place, if not pretentious.

On the tech front, the 4.3-inch screen seems a tad small by today’s standards, but it is functional and fast, with the Cerato’s Bluetooth pairing system particularly easy to use for streaming audio.

Two petrol engine variants are presented: the base S model gets the older 1.8-litre four-cylinder, good for 110kW/178Nm, both the Si and SLi models are equipped with the latest direct-injection 2.0-litre engine that make 129kW of power and 209Nm of torque.

Performance is better than you might expect for a compact sedan, especially with the smooth shift action of the standard six-speed manual transmission. Choosing the automatic adds another $2000 to the price.

Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review

It’s a free-revving engine that provides decent acceleration off the line, but sings its best tune above 3000rpm where the Cerato gets along with a certain degree of spirit and is genuinely fun to drive.

Fuel consumption isn’t bad, either, with our manual Cerato test car managing marginally less than the official 7.4L/100km over the week.

There’s also a certain refinement about the Cerato, with engine noise inside the cabin kept to a minimum even at high revs.

Apart from noise insulation, the Kia Cerato also benefits from the localised steering and suspension tuning that Kia Australia undertook during the car’s development.

The electric steering has a good feel to it – quick, with a decent level of feedback and variably weighted via Kia’s ‘Flexsteer’ system, which allows the driver to choose between three modes; comfort, normal and sport.

It’s likewise good news with the Cerato’s ride quality. The suspension tune strikes a nice balance between comfort and performance, with sufficient compliance to iron out large bumps yet relatively capable in the bends.

Body roll is well contained even at pace, though not quite as composed as the Ford Focus or Mazda 3, which both benefit from the more sophisticated multi-link set-up over the Cerato’s cheaper torsion beam rear suspension.

Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review
Kia Cerato Si Review

Active safety technologies across the entire Kia Cerato range include six airbags (front, side and curtain), electronic stability control with vehicle stability management and hill-start assist.

There’s also anti-locking brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist and front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters.

Kia has produced a serious contender in the new Cerato. Designed to exude class from its exterior to its well proportioned cabin, it represents a new breed of compact sedan – sexy enough to compete with the all-popular hatches, but roomy enough to take on larger sedans.

When you take into account the balanced chassis, swag of standard kit and its five-year unlimited warranty with capped price servicing, the Kia Cerato merits strong consideration.

And it’s shown in its best light in the mid-spec Kia Cerato Si we tested here in terms of balancing good pricing and features.


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  • Sumpguard

    Whilst my car has up to the date sat nav it wouldn’t worry me if it didn’t to be honest. The ones on free apps are brilliant and can be run through a galaxy pad or ipad free of charge. I’ve seen a few of these on the road now and must say they do look the goods. Very Euro sleek.

  • Guestq

    there was a test drive event at the kia dealer they had the top spec version. I had high hopes for this car but I was unimpressed , the driveline doesn’t feel like 130kw in fact no where near that much, road noise was an issue, and the black plastic kia and Hyundai use are just low tier, everyone these days use plastic, but the Korean plastic is genuinely cheap grade and scratches very easily. I feel it won’t hold up very well, like the previous peeling interior cerato it replaced. the design of this new one looked nice on photos, but in person it looks too huge and awkward.

    • Henry Toussaint

      My 2009 Elantra has Hard Plastics all round. They do scratch, but you have to use something hard for it to, Like a key.

      • Sumpguard

        Same with the new KIA’s. They look like they might scratch easy but they don’t. I had two dogs with their claws all over the back door trims and they never marked them in my Sportage. It was sold with an immaculate interior.

      • Elantra

        I was in a back seat of a Merc E series taxi in Denmark and I tell you the plastics look cheap and horrendous, my 2012 premium Elantra kills the interior in every level. Does that mean the Merc’s plastic is cheaper?

        • Elantra

          Sorry, the last comment was meant to Guestq.

    • chir0nex

      Agreed 100%.

      We had a look at the Optima and i45 along with other competitors, back to back and we found that the koreans used the worst hard plastics. They were coated with something to give them a matte and slightly soft touch but that surface is not durable at all and developed scratches from people’s rings, watches and nails.

      That is by far the worst aspect and i dont know why it never gets picked up on. So suddenly non-soft touch plastic dashboard is worse than pretend soft touch that looks ragged within weeks?

    • Robin_Graves

      Care to tell us who you work for? My guess is a competing car brand judging by your language.

    • bd

      Nothing beats the cheap, hard plastics in the Corolla when it comes to a low rent feel.
      And for “luxury” models, the interior of the 1st gen BMW X3 was filled with cheap, hard plastics.

    • StevieP

      It’s surprising the plastics in newer Kias are so terrible (according to these comments, anyway) considering my mother bought a new Cerato back in 2006 and the interior looks as immaculate as day one, besides a few scratches around the key ignition area. Has Kia taken a step backwards, or is everyone just feeling a bit hateful?

      • Sumpguard

        The plastics don’t scratch very easily at all. They aren’t exactly premium either but they look reasonably good.

  • $29896495

    I’m not a sedan person, but I think it looks nice. Good clean modern design. Put it next to many of the others and it would shame them – especially the Pulsar.

  • Redline

    Honda Cerato?

  • Robin_Graves

    No wonder the competition is scared. The handling bugbear is fixed, looks great, interior is great, driveline is great. The only thing to turn people off is if they are a badge snob. Wearing a VeeDud badge these days screams ignorance.

  • Gianni

    It’s really good to see Kia has finally lifted the standards of the Cerato. Finally after a few generations, it actually competes with (and surpasses) other rivals in the segment.

    • Matt

      Yet, sales, like the rio, have dropped through the floor? Still have not seen a new Ferraro on the road and I commute everyday in peak hour in Brisbane.

      • Matt

        Cerato* soz, iPads are silly

        • Gianni

          (First world problems with the iPad). I do agree with you about the Rio. Despite all the hard work Kia has put into the Rio, I don’t see them often here in Melbourne. However, it’s too early to tell if Cerato sales have really dropped considering it’s still quite new.

          • $29896495

            They have severely over priced themselves for some reason. Every other country Kia tests place as the price leader. They must think we’re a soft touch.

  • O123

    I still much prefer the ceed. I wish they kept the shape but put the ceed interior and front on this. It would look much classier.

  • MW

    “it’s nowhere near the space offered in the extraordinarily generous Nissan Pulsar”… how the Pulsar can still be classified as a small car is beyond me

    • $29896495

      It’s not in the US where it’s known as a Sentra. There it’s an upper compact car or medium.

  • Hon Duh

    Had a look at one of these… purchased a Honda Civic VTiL instead. The Civic had 17″ wheels, similar levels of equipment, offered 5 year warranty, solid build, quality materials and… cheaper. My Civic worked out $2000 cheaper! Good effort Kia, but Honda are hungry to business these days so no thanks to your pricing.

  • Brayden Cresswell

    I do find it funny how they still say plastics feel cheap well it is a kia guys.

  • galaxy

    Every negative comment about Kia seems to be subjective badge snobbery based loads of $%^& . Even comments like “Korean plastics versus…” really? Korea doesn’t have access to Japanese plastic? C’mon!! You all probably held on to your old Nokia mobile for years saying Apple still wasn’t as good back in 2007? It’s here and it’s now and Hyundai/Kia has certainly surpassed many Japanese brands… so well most of you are all probably employees of Toyota and Honda anyway, trying to hold on to the fort.

    • F1orce

      Haha so anyone who has something to say against your beloved kia & hyundai is an employee of some other brand?
      Surpassed who? Mitsubishi? As far as I know Hyundai is an affiliate of Mitsubishi, hyundai uses many Mitsubishi components. The flagship 2.0t motor used in the Sonata-Turbo is co developed with Mitsubishi, its the same motor that has been used in the Evo for years. The Electro-waste gate turbocharger is sourced from Mitsubishi as well.
      The all to popular ‘GDI’ name is the actual direct-injection system Mitsubishi has been using since the 1990′s, hyundai bought the rights to use it and also bought the rights to use the name ‘GDI’ from Mitsubishi.
      You’re the the bigot fanboy who supports everything korean? Iphone lol? You always talk smack about the iPhone, yet you praise the copy cat samsung GALAXY phones.. Talk about double standards.

      • galaxy

        It’s a fact of online comments that 1/3 are from competitors bagging out another brand – actual research this year. Bla.. Bla.. Bla… So which Mitsubishi car is better than an equivalent Hyundai/Kia model today?

        Answer to your question, no I don’t buy products based on whether they’re Korean, Japanese or German etc… I just buy what is good and recognise it for just that (without the snobbery). I have Japanese, Korean and Euro cars sitting in my driveway today for various fam members. It seems you’re the one still holding on to your Nokia (oops I mean Mitsubishi). Wake up buddy…. the world moves fast… unless you’re a Mitsubishi employee???) I’m just sitting back watching and laughing how Hyundai/Kia are setting the pace in the car world while Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsu etc are not taking them seriously… no different to electronics 10 years ago and today Panasonic, Sony are struggling to stay alive and why??? for exactly the same reason.

        Don’t forget the green button answers calls and the red button ends calls.

      • Jim

        Hyundai is not an affiliate of Mitsubishi. But they do build a lot of components together, for example the Mitsubishi Global Engine Plant in Shiga Japan does some work for Hyundai/Kia as well as other manufacturers. I know, I worked there. I don’t see it as biased, just experienced.

        Mitsubishi builds class A engine components. Which is why they are used by so many, despite most not knowing about it.

        If only they could also build an interior to rival the new Korean models ;

  • Jonno

    LOL! Korean cars trying to move up the food chain – “some rivals offer auto transmission for similar money as manual [...Cerato]“. They seemed to have forgotten their unique selling point ie. “value for money” pricing & low cost motoring. They are losing their way by pricing their products above the competition.
    European manufacturers are looking at Australia exports to compensate for their moribund domestic markets. They are aggressively discounting their products for the Aussie market – in order to increase volumes just as the Koreans are trying to increase their prices & inversely reduce sales volumes. Of late, the newer Korean cars are seen lesser & lesser on the road. The KIA Rio despite much motoring press accolades, are quite rare on the road compared to the Toyota Yaris, Suzuki Swift, etc.
    KIA’s USA success have ended. There was a US class action suit recently against KIA/Hyundai for false advertising in fuel economy. They settled the suit through compensation.

    The facts about Korean cars are:-
    1. They tend to be heavier than Japanese car as they use cheaper normal gauge steel unlike Japanese who use high tensile steel which are strong but lighter.
    2. Korean engines are not as optimized for fuel efficiency as the Japanese. Also, posted power/torque figures unrelated to driving experience. i45/Optima 2.4L engine had high power figures but many drivers complained about the flat performance.
    3. Despite the 5 year warranty, the truth about Korean cars are that they are not built to last. They get noisier, clunkier & requiring more mechanical attention as the cars get older.

    • galaxy

      1. Wrong! Hyundai was the first Asian manuf to use their OWN made high tensile steel.

      2. Massive generalisation… just another anti-korean opinion. Read latest car reviews – seem to be doing OK don’t you think?

      3. Wrong again with no backup … just your opinion and no data…

      Please spare us!

  • Zaccy16

    nice car, most complete kia with the cee’d IMO, the 2.0 petrol is much better than the torqueless 1.8 in the base cerato and soggy handling rubbish elantra, that engine should be in the i30 IMO. the cerato hatch and sedan looks better and drives better than the i30 IMO, specially because it has the much better 2.0 l petrol, the 1.7 litre diesel that is too slow in the heavier i40 would be good in the cerato and too replace the too small 1.6 diesel in the i30

    • F1orce

      Kia Optima is also quite good..

      Wish they had the Turbo-Optima here though..

  • pete

    Had the Kia Sorento from 2005 to 2008, never missed a beat and nothing broke or fell off. Would this be the case for other known brands? Look at Samsung and LG 10-15 years ago, who would have guessed where they would be today, same for Korean Ship Building which has surpassed the Japanese. Do not under estimate their evolution in many industries.

  • annonymouskia

    Not a bad car… but my SLi top of the range with Sat. Nav. has broken twice… I have to go back to the dealership for a few times in a month.. Guess what.. after 2 weeks the new sat. nav. has been replaced, the new one doesn’t last more than 3 weeks… This issue is so annoying… especially when you spend 30k+ on top of the range model… Also issue is the lost of power issue… it happen intermittently… When I bring back to the dealership, they knew it happens intermittently and we didn’t manage to replicate the issue when the mechanic was with me for a ride.. and they did nothing… the after sales service is the only let down for Kia… also long queue to get appointment… FYI, I bought my Kia at Southland Kia, VIC…

Kia Cerato Specs

Si : 2.0L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 6 SP MANUAL - UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
KIA
Model
CERATO
Variant
Si
Series
TD MY13
Year
2013
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
2.0L
Cylinders
INLINE 4
Max. Torque
194Nm @  4300rpm
Max. Power
115kW @  6200rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
92W/kg
Bore & Stroke
86x86mm
Compression Ratio
10.5
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
52
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.8L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1250
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1460mm
Length
4530mm
Width
1775mm
Ground Clearance
150mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1200  Unbrake:450
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.3
Front Rim Size
5.5x15
Rear Rim Size
5.5x15
Front Tyres
195/65 R15
Rear Tyres
195/65 R15
Wheel Base
2650
Front Track
1557
Rear Track
1564
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Standard Features
Comfort
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Power Steering
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
60 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
30-K-9
Country of Origin
KOREA