Owner Review

2017 Kia Cerato S review: The rental

- shares

I don't own this car, as it was a rental, but I did drive it for over 10 hours and did 800kms in the thing. This is about as long as I have travelled in any car I haven't personally owned, yet I won't make any comments on reliability. However, I can say that I think if you need something practical and have about $15-$17k in your pocket, one of these would be great.

All over the Hunter / Tamworth area the Cerato was all you really needed in a car. Comfy, spacious, great visibility, fairly ergonomic, and decent economy. I love the weird 'ribs' they put on the passenger side of the dash and the front door cards, and the way the screen is canted towards the drivers side. Actually, I really liked the interior, full stop - very impressive for a base model car. I love the fat white-on-black touchscreen, but it was quite distracting so it's probably best to use the buttons on the wheel for infotainment controls if you aren't stopped at a light. Easy Bluetooth streaming on my partner's iPad found good quality sound.

We were mostly country driving and averaged 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres. The 5-speed auto is mostly good but hunts around a bit between 4th and 5th, although I tried the manual mode and it was fine. I don't mind the forward for up-shift and back for down-shift mode, but unless you are on a steep highway the auto is fine left to its own devices.

Low points are that the highly-raked front windscreen holds rain drops longer than any other car than I have been in. It also reflects the dash which is a bit annoying, but I got used to it. Having said that, all-around visibility is excellent and considering the scenic area we were driving, the fact that the front of the car seems to be just mostly glass was great. The steering (after my MX-5) was initially was full of slack and devoid of feel, but after a few hours I got over that and happily twirled around with one finger's worth of pressure, which I find is kind of nice - I'd like to see more luxury cars with effortless racks instead of "sporty" artificial resistance, which is just crap.

I think the tyres (Nexens) on the car weren't very good in terms of lateral grip - combined with the lack of steering feel, it's not a fun car to tip in corners. They're fine 90% of the time but you'd be disappointed if you found a nice twisty road and wanted to get a fizz on. I would rate the ride and handling as only a 5.5, but the ride quality itself was fine - I can't remember any sharp hits or anything. I'd say it was really quite good in terms of keeping your tailbone and other bits from getting too familiar with the seat frame.

Comparing the Kia Cerato to a same year Golf Mk7 1.0 TSI that we rented and drove around England a few years ago, I'd say the Golf was better to drive (being a proper manual may have helped), but the Kia was much more practical, had a better interior (yes!) and basically would be the one I would buy out of the two if it had a manual transmission, grippier rubber and a tiny bit more steering feel. I kinda like boring cars that just do what they say on the tin and grow on you over time, and this was definitely one of those. I've even owned a couple in the past, with a Mazda 323 and Nissan Micra.

If anyone here has actually owned a Kia Cerato for a bit and can comment on reliability I would be interested to know because I would definitely consider one of these if I had a kid on the way and needed something with back seats.

MORE: Cerato news, reviews, comparisons and videos
MORE: Everything Kia