The third-generation Kia Cerato has been launched in Australia with a $19,990 starting price as the South Korean brand targets greater penetration into Australia’s small car segment.
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Cerato is Kia’s best-selling model globally, though locally the model still lingers well behind a number of rivals, including the i30 from sister company Hyundai.

Kia, however, has decided not to make a headline with its Kia Cerato pricing, lifting the price of the base model sedan by $600 to only match rather than beat the lowest starting RRPs among its key rivals, the Nissan Pulsar and Toyota Corolla.

The latest Kia Cerato arrives initially as a sedan variant with a hatch (the most popular body style) to follow mid year and Koup two-door version towards the end of 2013.

The sedan, designed in Kia’s Californian studio, is 30mm longer (to 4560mm), 25mm lower and 5mm wider. The wheelbase grows by 50mm to match the distance between the front and rear axle’s of the company’s big SUV, the Sorento.

Front and rear overhangs are also reduced as part of Kia’s aim to give the Cerato a more dynamic look.

Three trim levels comprising S, Si and SLi again form the Cerato line-up, with two new ‘Nu’ petrol engines replacing the old ‘Theta II’ 2.0-litre four-cylinders.

A 1.8-litre four-cylinder offered with the base model and a more powerful 2.0-litre four for the mid and top level variants. All engines are mated to either a six-speed manual or an optional six-speed auto that costs $2000.

The 1.8-litre four-cylinder offered in the Kia Cerato S model produces 110kW and 178Nm, and delivers 0-100km/h performance of 11.6 seconds with the auto or 10.1 with the manual. Fuel consumption is rated at 7.1L/100km (auto) or 6.6L/100km (manual).

Stepping up to a direct injection 129kW/209Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder sees consumption increase to 7.4L/100km with either transmission but acceleration increase to 8.5 seconds (manual) or 9.3 seconds (auto).

The Kia Cerato S kicks off from $19,990 and includes features such as Bluetooth, trip computer, 16-inch steel wheels (inch larger than old model), cruise control, foglight, USB/iPod compatibility, and front corner and rear parking sensors.

The Si, from $23,990, brings 16-inch wheels with alloy rims, chrome exterior trim, electrically folding side mirrors, rear air vents, push button engine start, 4.3-inch touch screen, and reverse view camera.

At the top of the range, the Kia Cerato SLi costs from $27,990 and adds extras such as 17-inch alloys, leather trim, heated front seats and electrically adjustable driver’s seat, LED daytime running lights, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and paddleshift transmission levers.

The Cerato SLi’s dash also incorporates a TFT (thin film transistor) colour LCD display whereas the S and Si have a simpler LC dot matrix version.

A Navteq sat-nav system is available for the SLi for an additional $1000.

Kia Australia will enter the hot-hatch arena in early 2014 with a three-door turbocharged version of the European version of the Cerato – the Cee’d. The Kia Pro_Cee’d GT was confirmed recently at the 2013 Geneva motor show.