KIA Cerato - Long Term Update

$19,390 Mrlp
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KIA Cerato SLi - Long Term Update

So far, so good!

- by Rose Harris

Kia has made some ground-breaking changes which should see buyers think twice when it comes to purchasing a new vehicle.

When I tell people I am testing a Kia, the response is usually a less than enthusiastic one and I have even felt a distinct “oh, you poor thing” response from some. However, when the doubters see and even go for a ride in the Cerato, opinions quickly change.

The exterior styling of the Cerato puts it comfortably in the league of good-looking cars. It certainly doesn’t look like a boring, affordable family vehicle. During my couple of weeks with the Cerato so far, I am yet to come across someone who hasn’t had to re-think their Kia opinions. So it seems, in my experience, Kia’s effort in turning its reputation around is working.

Life with the Cerato continues to be enjoyable. I decided to be fair and give the Cerato some settling-in time before drawing some hard and fast fuel figures from it. For around-town and heavy city driving, the Cerato was using around 8.2 litres per 100km, according to my calculations.

However, since we took the Cerato on a long country drive, and it has clocked past that 1000km mark, the fuel figures are dropping drastically. On the long drive I speak of, while the intention was to take in some fresh country air, we sat in peak-hour roadwork traffic for near on two hours.

Just for the record, we travelled 29km in 90 minutes! When we next refuelled, the Cerato had used 25.01 litres over 341.1 km, giving a figure of 7.3 litres per 100km. The in-dash display was estimating an average fuel intake below seven for some of the trip.

The manufacturer claims a combined figure of 7.8 litres per 100km and I would say that is pretty accurate and expect the Cerato will sit around that figure from here on in; if not better.

I am constantly receiving compliments on the Kia’s colour, Santorini Blue premium paint which is certainly a head-turner. There was a second purpose to our jaunt to the country – to catch up with my son’s grandparents for his third birthday - and in the small country town inwhich we met in, there was plenty of attention centred around the glistening blue Kia.

The sound system is fantastic for such an affordably priced car. It has six speakers; front door, rear door and front tweeters and the USB input is iPod compatible and automatically displays the song information on the central LCD screen.

I tested the stereo as best I could with a song carrying plenty of bass and was surprised with the little, to no vibration from the speakers. Directly below the input jacks and the 12volt outlet is a handy storage space to stash a phone and iPod, so there is no need to be stretching cords all over the place.

Another bonus which I have found to be a rarity in cars I have tested is a mute button. It may sound trivial, but I love the ease and immediacy of a mute button on the steering wheel; to quickly hear the kids, talk to the drive thru speaker or use the hands-free.

The cruise-control buttons, located on the right of the steering wheel, are very simple to use with no need to take my eyes off the road and I have found the cruise to be accurate.

One small gripe I have, which is just an attention-to-detail thing, is the illuminated cruise control “SET” light. It is located underneath the fuel level needle, so when the needle gets to a certain point, the “SET” light is all but obscured from view. Not something that really impacts on driving, but little things like that annoy me.

Overall, the instrument panel is very clear, well lit and easily read. The large speedometer is central and in the main view of the driver, two smaller dials are off to each side – tachometer on the left and fuel gauge on the right. The heat gauge is part of the in-dash display, located below the three dials.

I am in two minds about this as I love the easy read dials and their un-crowded nature, but I also like the constant reminder of the temperature. At the moment I am coping with scrolling through options to check the heat.

The boot space held up to a week away with the family. The boot is very deep and with things packed right in against the seat back, it is surprising what can be fitted into the sedan’s cargo area. Occasionally I would have a bag obstructing the hinge struts, but so far I have no qualms with the space.

I am yet to test the Cerato with the full five adults so I can’t really speak about rear leg room and space. Of course, the two kids in their car seats are more than comfortable and my now three-year-old always asks for a ride in the “blue car” and thinks of things we might need at the shops so we can go for a drive.

The climate control is easy to use and cools or warms the front of the car in an instant. One thing I am still debating the impact of , if any, is the absence of rear air-conditioning vents. While the kids haven’t looked hugely uncomfortable, they aren’t able to give any hard and fast feedback on whether the Cerato needs those rear vents.

There is a good chance the large front vents do enough to cool the whole car. I’ll put this to the test when I stash my three adult passengers across the back.

I can vouch for the effectiveness of both the headlights and windscreen wipers after my long trip. Both are without fault. I did notice, however, after about three hours of sitting in the Cerato’s seats they seem to harden a little, and the comfort factor declines. But that is more than long enough for one to be behind the wheel without a leg stretch anyway.

So it's a case of so far so good with the Cerato. My next instalment will bring with it some expert back-seat feedback, the usual day-to-day run-arounds and another trip to the country, hopefully this time with less roadworks.