Kia’s inexorable march to the top, alongside its Korean cousin, is well and truly under way. The Cerato range, with hatches and sedans and a choice of trim levels, allows family based buyers to pick and choose, from auto or manual, sedan or hatch. A Wheel Thing samples the Cerato S Premium and Si hatches to see how these family cars relate.
Kia throw a 1.8L and 2.0L engine into their Cerato cars; the S Premium came with the 1.8L (110kW/178Nm) and the Si gets the 2.0L with 129kW/209Nm. Both receive their peaks at 6500 and 4700 revs, with the Si feeling a little more relaxed overall thanks to the higher figures. The transmissions were automatics with a manual standard for the 1.8L but the 2.0L is auto only and six ratios as is the norm nowadays. They’re smooth, fluid, audible in changing gear but not physically discernible most of the time. Quoted fuel consumption for both is almost identical, at just over seven litres per hundred klicks (combined cycle) from a fifty litre tank. It’ll drink all forms of unleaded, including E10. A point of difference is in the way the gojuice is delivered; the 1.8L is “old style” multipoint injected with the 2.0L using the direct injection system.
Nothing exciting yet not unattractive either. In profile it’s an aero smooth, pedestrian friendly bonnet that slopes gently into the windscreen pillars and flows into a sine wave curved rear end. At the front, Kia runs with ovoid shaped headlights, a departure from the angles seen on the Sorento and Sportage and complete with the opaque white plastic inserts that have become a signature of Kia’s front end design, as has the Schreyer “tiger nose” grille. Unusually, both cars missed out on the neon tube look tail lights as seen on other Kia cars. Both have a black insert for the rear bumper and a good load height for the cargo section and have an angular wraparound for the (non LED) driving lights. A line from the middle of the front wheel arch delineates its way to the tail lights joining the door handles along the way. All but the SLi Cerato roll on 16 inch wheels, with 205/55 rubber.
On The Inside.
To be honest, I was somewhat baffled by the choice of the word Premium when I first opened the door for the first time with the S Premium. Where was the leather, something premium infers? Ah, it was to be found in the Si (huh????) the following week. The S Premium gets cloth covering for the pews; comfortable, well padded and supportive enough, with under thigh cushioning at just the right length. Both came with manual adjustment, with power seating reserved for the top of the tree SLi only. The S gets a normal key for ignition purposes, the Si is push button stop/start whilst all four models get remote boot unlocking.
There’s a mix of rippled, rounded designs for the dash with a faux carbon fibre insert standing out from the mottled plastic for the dash in the Si with a flat plastic for the S Premium. Both cars suffered from high reflectivity into the inside of the windscreen, a problem that Kia is not alone with. A 7 inch touchscreen satnav/audio system (which sounds ok) takes pride of place in the centre, sitting above a rollerdoor covered storage space housing two 12V sockets plus the USB/Aux connections. There’s power windows all round with the S Premium getting auto down, the Si goes one step further with auto up and down. Both get monochrome displays for the driver; there’s plenty of info within the submenus except, unlike nearly everyone else, there doesn’t appear to be an option to display the speed in digits. If there is, it’s well hidden.
The family is taken care of with bottle holders in the doors, aircon vents for the rear seats and cup holders front and rear, plus, of course, as many airbags as can be squeezed into a car with a 2.7 metre wheelbase and a width (total) of 1780mm. The split fold rear seats lead you into the hatch area, with 385L of shopping bag space whilst back at the front, the driver gets a rake and reach adjustable steering column, standard across the range, as is Hillstart Assist Control, Emergency Stop Signal and front & rear parking sensors.
On The Go.
Both rev quite happily, with the Si feeling a touch more peppy, thanks to almost identical weights (1295 v 1309 kg, dry) but with a 30 Nm torque advantage. Both will get up and grooving nicely, especially from around 3000 revs through to peak power delivery, with the six speed auto, as mentioned, sliding smoothly between gears and providing a linear delivery of oomph. Under pressure the engines are smooth revvers but tend towards the raucous at the higher end of the rev range. The six speed autos come with the ubiquitous Sports mode which remained largely unused. A trial in each didn’t appear to offer any discernible advantage.
There appears to be a softer damper setting for the Si, bottoming out more frequently than the S over humps and diving a touch more noticeably under brakes. Both suffer from push on understeer, with the tyres supplied noisy in doing so. The Si is softer on the road as well, feeling more luxury oriented, with seat of the pants communication saying it rides smoother and more absorbent on the flat and a touch more “rolly” in curves and off camber turns.
The electric steering is, when left in the Normal mode (Kia and their sister, Hyundai, offer Sports and Comfort), reasonably communicative but doesn’t escape the artificial feel the modes give.
Acceleration is neither leisurely nor neck snapping; in fact, it’s a Goldilocks just right. Braking is the same, with pedal pressure nicely balanced and progressive. The gearbox is responsive, kicking down when required and rarely felt out of sorts, with only a few instances across a fortnight with both having the transmissions looking for the right ration. Both the S Premium and Si have road noise on coarser surfaces but are fairly quiet on smoother blacktop. Economy wise, the best seen in the S Premium was 6.3L/100km and on largely freeway work but in peak hours. The Si was closer to 9.0L per 100 klicks in mostly urban style driving, with Kia quoting between 10 and 11L per 100.
There’s plenty of standard kit to like and enjoy, with the audio system providing decent quality, satnav user friendly and comfortable seating, typical high quality fit and finish, mostly good ride quality and a competent engine/gearbox combo. For the single person or a couple, they’re pretty much on the money for anything under $30K. Driven as expected, they’ll provide the handling and comfort one would want, even with the Si’s preference for bottoming out when it comes to the bigger speed humps. With good looks, a great feature list, room enough for a family of four and decent fuel economy, the Kia Cerato S Premium and Si stand well in their peer group. The S Premium 1.8L auto starts at $24990, the Si 2.0L auto from $28990 and the range topping SLi (not tested here) from $31990 and premium paint is a $520 option. Don’t forget there’s now the seven year warranty with unlimited kilometres, capped price service and road side assist included as well, making the Cerato’s decidely good value.
Head to www.kia.com.au for information on the Cerato and all of the Kia range.
For A Wheel Thing TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My8NoNVGQVg&feature=em-upload_owner
Kia Cerato Hatch: S Premium and Si. $24990 & $28990 + ORCs and metallic paint ($520.00).
Engines: 1.8L and 2.0L.
Fuel: Unleaded petrol, E10 compatible.
Power/Torque: 1.8L; 110kW @ 6500 rpm, 178 Nm @ 4700 rpm. 2.0L; 129kW @ 6500 rpm, 209 Nm @ 4700 rpm.
Transmissions: six speed automatics with Sports mode.
Economy (quoted): 7.4L/100km (1.8L), 7,5L/100km (2.0L) combined. 10.4L/100km (1.8L), 10.7L/100km (2.0L) urban. 5.7L/100km (both) highway.
Dimensions (LxWxH in mm): 4350 x 1780 x 1450.
Wheelbase: 2700 mm.
Cargo: 385L/657L (VDA/SAE measurements).
Warranty: seven years, unlimited kilometres. Capped price servicing.