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The new-generation 2018 Kia Cerato has been unveiled in Detroit today, debuting in its US-market 2018 Kia Forte form. Only the sedan body has been revealed, although earlier spy photos reveal what we can expect from the hatch design.

Slightly bigger in every direction, the Forte also debuts a new variant of Hyundai-Kia’s 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ petrol engine and a new CVT automatic gearbox, both specific to the American market.

Although today’s unveiling was largely about the US offering, and much of the new Cerato’s Australian specification is still to be decided, the company’s local arm has at least confirm we will be skipping the new engine and the CVT shifter. We’ll instead continue with the engine and conventional auto we’re already offered in Australia, carrying over from the current model.

But, since we’re here, let’s look at that new CVT. Kia acknowledges it has come late to the ‘continuously variable transmission’ game, although the brand claims the time has been spent monitoring and researching “the issues often associated with CVTs”, to ensure its own in-house unit is a more refined offering.

Among its callouts, Kia highlights the class-first use of a chain-type belt to reduce the “rubber-band-like feel”, and noise is combatted through the use of a sound-insulating wrap on the transmission case “to help quiet the typical ‘drone’ associated with this tech from other OEMs”.

As for the new engine, the American-market ‘Forte’ will get a variant of the Hyundai-Kia group’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘Nu’ petrol unit, this one tuned with Atkinson Cycle tech – normally found in hybrid applications – and a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system.

Power is rated at 109kW and 179Nm, which is down on the numbers extracted from the current Australian model’s 112kW/192Nm version of the Nu engine, with multi-point injection.

Australia’s engine is not expected to be blessed with any improvements in power and torque, and, with a heavily revised and slightly larger body, we could see minor changes to fuel consumption for the new 2018 model. This is speculation on our part, however.

As with the new i30, the 2018 Cerato is built on an overhauled version of the previous generation’s platform. Among the changes are new hot-stamped components and more Advanced High-Strength steel in its construction.

Handling is improved through a new subframe design, and the electric power steering system has been given a going-over to reduce artificial feel and friction.

Kia says it has also delivered a quieter cabin and better handling through a more rigid design, with the body-in-white stiffened by 16 per cent.

The new Cerato is now 81mm longer at 4641mm overall, adding legroom and rear storage – although exact numbers for each are still to be made clear. It is also 18mm wider at 1798mm, and 13mm taller than before.

Design cues are clearly drawn from across the Kia range, from the big new Stinger to the recently revealed Stonic crossover that won’t be offered in Australia. Although, as our earlier spy photos show, the Australian model could feature a number of small styling differences.

Indeed, and no surprise, Kia mentions the Stinger no fewer than seven times in its press release for this new small sedan, describing similar “fastback sedan” proportions, with a long bonnet and short rear deck. It also claims the headlights have a “Stinger-like” design, although the similarities might prove tricky to spot…

It remains to be seen if the design treatments shown in Detroit is exactly what we’ll see in Australia, but small differences in styling is common enough across the world’s markets. The hatch spied in Korea wears a subtly different grille design – closer, in fact, to the Stinger’s grille – and a different bumper.

This could either be a market-specific change, or simply a matter of trim grades and specification. The car unveiled this week is clearly a top-spec model, while the earlier spied hatch appears to be a mid-grade variant.

Inside, Kia promises a “class above” cabin, promised to be a more comfortable space, with new driver assistance systems in the mix.

Like the Stinger, the new Cerato gets “aeronautically-inspired” circular vents with a spoked design, and new soft-touch surfaces are also featured.

An eight-inch display is standard in the centre of the dash, complete with with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Wireless phone charging is standard, while audio-conscious buyers can option a 320-watt Harmon Kardon stereo.

The Cerato will make its Australian debut around the middle of 2018, possibly late in the second half. It will debut first in sedan form, with the hatch – still to be given an official unveiling – due to hit Aussie showrooms towards the end of the year.

Watch for more on the local range to be revealed in the months ahead.

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