This Car Review Is About: The latest offerings from the long running Cerato range, specifically the restyled sedan and hatch bodies, in GT and Sport trim. There is the S, Sport, Sport Plus, and GT. The S and Sport can be optioned with a Safety Pack.Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of a turbocharged 1.6L driving a seven speed dual clutch auto in the GT, against a 2.0L non-turbo and six speed standard auto for the Sport and S. The GT gets the powerhouse 150kW turbo which delivers 265Nm of twist across a flat 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm “torque curve”. The Sport has a very good 2.0L, with 112kW and 192Nm at 4,000rpm. The S is the only version with a manual six speed available.Economy for the pair is tight; the bigger engine is quoted as 7.4L/100km for the combined cycle, with the turbo 1.6L at 6.8L/100km. Our highway drives saw 5.8L/100km for the 1.6L Cerato GT sedan, the Cerato Sport hatch clocked a 6.9L/100km. Overall activity saw 7.4L/100 for the hatch as a final average on its return, with the sedan at 7.1L/100km. That’s running regular unleaded from a 50L tank.
What Do They Cost?: Kia says $32,990 plus on-roads for the GT sedan, $25,790 plus ORC for the Sport hatch, and if you opt for the Sport+, that’s $28,840 plus ORC. There are ten colours available, with the GT getting its own Sunset Orange shade. Paints classified as Metallic or Pearl are a $520 option.On The Outside Is: A choice of a sleek sedan or a sleek hatch. They’re essentially the same until the rear of the rear doors, and the hatch has a manual tail gate, a more pronounced taper to the rear roof line, and BMW-esque LED tail lights. Essentially, as the GT has a full suite of LEDs for both headlights and DRLs, whereas the Cerato Sport Plus has normal headlights and LEDs for the daytime running lights. Both ends, though, have the indicator lamps set below a driver’s line of sight, rather than being up in the head and tail light clusters.
The GT also has specific wheels and tyres. 225/40/18s with Michelin rubber wrap ten dual-spoke design alloys. The Sport has 225/45/17 alloys of a similar yet different design. The spare is a temporary sized one with a steel rim.Overall dimensions show just how big a modern small/medium sedan is. At 4,640mm in length, they’re bigger than the legendary EH Holden, which was 4,511mm. The Cerato’s height is 1,440mm except for the GT which is 5mm lower. The blocky EH stood 1,478mm. Where the classic Holden won was on weight. At 1,118kg it’s 200kg to 250kg lighter than the Ceratos.
There’s a couple of other minor differences too; the Sport Plus gets body coloured wing mirror covers, whilst the GT has high gloss black covers. Both have heating for the mirrors. The GT has twin chrome tipped exhausts, and the Sport Plus a single well pipe. There’s also a slight difference between the sedan and the hatch when it comes to opening the boot lid. There is a release button on the key fob, and a lever inside. But there is not a tab on the bootlid to open the boot. Once open there’s another design hiccup. The rear seats don’t have a shoulder mounted seat release mechanism. To flip the seats in the sedan the boot must be opened, a boot mounted lever puller for either the left or right hand seat, then it’s back to the rear seats to actually fold them down. The hatch does away with this ridiculous idea by having a boot-lid mounted tab.On the Inside Is: A surprisingly low toned interior. The GT is black upon black, having only subtle red piping on the seats and alloy look plastics around the gear selector, air vents and dash strip, central steering wheel spoke, and door handles, to break up the black. Under the driver’s foot is alloy pedals in the GT. The Sport Plus as tested had a similar look to the dash but had a lighter shade of material from the doors upwards and a charcoal/grey cloth trim to the seats. The GT’s driver holds a flat bottomed steering wheel.
Actual plastics look and feel is cheapish. There’s little, if anything, to differentiate the upper echelon cars from the base model S in this respect, plus there’s a distractingly high level of upper dash reflectivity into the windscreen. The driver’s binnacle display is fully analogue and has a monochrome display screen, not colour. Sound comes from a six speaker system in the Sport Plus, an eight speaker setup in the GT, with DAB tuners across the range plus the now almost seemingly mandatory Android Auto and Apple CarPlay plus Bluetooth.There are four cup, and four bottle, holders in the cabin. Just the driver gets a one touch up/down window switch. The GT gets a wireless smartphone charging pad and it’s a slightly tricky design. A small bump in the plastic on the left hand side will stop a phone from being charged properly if it’s not placed in the holder correctly. There’s a pair of USB ports and a single 12V socket up front as well.
As is the norm now, a touchscreen of 8.0 inches in measurement, and a simple one to use at that, is mounted up high on the dash. Default look is map and audio side by side. As is Kia’s wont, the interface is intuitive and makes using the various functions, and changing settings, fuss free.
On The Road It’s: Not quite chalk and cheese. The turbo in the GT is a firecracker, with verve, fizz, fire and brimstone, belying the 265Nm, as it feels as if there are more. The dual clutch transmission is beautifully matched and the performance potential is huge. Surprisingly, the 2.0L seemed not far off the pace in regards to response and drive-ability. The smaller engine is a free spirited and easily spun unit however the 2.0L in the Sport was nearly as easy going in how it moved the analogue needle around the dial. The more traditionally oriented six speed auto was nearly as slick and smooth, but simply couldn’t match the bang-bang nature of the dual-clutch in cog swapping.Get and go in both is very good, with the torque spread of the GT’s engine making for a harder run from a standing start. There’s real excitement from the drive-line as a straight line run sees the freeway limit reached in what feels like just a breath. The Sport’s 2.0L pulled hard too but in a side by side comparison would be noticeably behind. The dual-clutch also exhibited a trait peculiar to this kind of transmission. Anything from a mild press of the go pedal upwards has the brains of the ‘box working fine, go a little softer, or change from Reverse to Drive, and there’s that customary pause as the brains figure out exactly what the transmission is supposed to do before actually doing so.Handling on both was neutral; the weight of the steering in both was excellent and allowed for a clean judgement of how much input was required to have the nose go where it was desired. On one particular corner the front end would run wide but only at a certain speed and was easily brought back to a controllable level with a back-off and a brush of the brakes. Highway driving has the pair change directions nimbly and the steering & engine choices, left in the default Eco mode, was never needed to be in anything other than that. The GT has a Smart mode which runs between Sport/Eco/Comfort, and effectively learns on the fly as well, helping the on board computers to adapt to an individual driving style.
Ride quality definitely tends towards the harder style yet the GT’s 18 inch rubber doesn’t crash through to the cabin at all. The Australian fettled suspension is well sorted, with work performed on the sophisticated multi-link independent system going to a specific sports tune all-round Braking is superb with the front brake discs growing in size from 280mm to 305mm, making braking a sensory experience and providing millimetre perfect judgement. The Sport lacked little here too, with its braking setup virtually on par. The Sport also has a softer ride setup, and perhaps one that more buyers would choose over the tauter GT for around-town driving.
GT stands for Grand Tourer and so it is with the sedan really showing its mettle on longer runs. The very nature of the torque deliver and the responsiveness of the seven speed DCT suits a good punt and taken westwards along the Great Western Highway, and eastwards on the freeways towards Sydney show what a beautifully setup long distance driver it is. In seventh gear and barely off idle in cruise mode, the GT is a delight. The Sport’s sixth gear takes the rev point higher and it’s here that the slight coarseness of the 2.0L becomes apparent. It’s not harsh, just noticeable that it’s not quite as turbine smooth or quiet.Of a final note is the aural extension of the engine note into the cabin for the GT. It’s a throaty and rorty sound, not unlike a worked over flat four. But it’s a generated sound, and played via the sound system. It’s a matter of personal taste and unfortunately not one that can be deactivated.
Safety Features Are: strong, naturally. AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking, with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Keep Assist are standard. Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Driver Attention Alert Warning, front and rear parking sensors, are also standard.
What About Warranty and Service?: Standard seven years, unlimited kilometres, and capped priced servicing, as per the information here.
At The End of the Drive. Kia has come a HELLUVA long way in the twelve years since AWT was selling cars alongside the brand’s then new cars. The level of technology, safety, the designs, and the change from a non-turbo range to the inclusion of a genuine sports oriented range, such as the Cerato GT, put Kia into a stronger position in the marketplace than it was a decade ago. In an increasingly competitive sales area, the Cerato GT stands out as one to choose from a drivers’ perspective. The Sport is the one for an around town lifestyle. The sedan and hatch have further information available.