It’s the Stinger for those people that can’t afford one.
The Kia Cerato GT Turbo is half the price of Kia’s top spec Stinger, but delivers in spades.
You can have the hatch or sedan for the same price, but we reckon the sedan with its sleek coupe lines and lift back is the pick.
Not only does it go hard, but it’s a practical design, with room to seat four adults comfortably and returns excellent fuel economy.
It’s not perfect, but no car ever is — it is however that rare combination of style, value and performance that doesn’t come along very often.
What’s it cost?
Both hatch and sedan are the same $31,990 driveaway. Premium paint adds $520 to the price.
It’s right up there safety-wise with six airbags, Auto Emergency Braking, with Pedestrian and Cyclist recognition, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Rear View Camera, Driver Attention Alert, plus front and rear parking sensors.
The GT rolls on 18-inch alloys, with Drive Mode Select, tyre pressure monitor, speed limiter, 8-way driver seat adjustment with two memory positions, smart cruise control, 8.0-inch touchscreen with satnav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition, wireless phone charger, 8-speaker JBL audio, climate air conditioning and heated and cooled front sport seats.
Sporty bits include a body kit, dual exhausts, paddle shifters, alloy sports pedals and a flat-bottomed leather sports steering wheel.
What’s it go like?
Even the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated Sport model goes pretty well.
But with a 150kW 1.6-litre turbo under the bonnet, the GT takes things to a whole new level.
It’s the same engine that has been used in other applications across the Kia/Hyundai inventory, prominently in the three-door Veloster coupe.
The 1.6-litre engine produces 265Nm of torque between 1500 and 4500 revs, with drive to the front wheels through a 7-speed twin clutch style auto that includes paddle shifts.
There’s different drive modes too, with Smart, Eco and Comfort accessed via a switch — plus a hidden Sport mode.
That’s accessed by pulling the gear shift towards you, which sharpens steering and delivers more aggressive gear shifts.
The GT rides 10mm lower than a standard Cerato, with upgraded, independent rear suspension, which makes it ride and handle better, particularly when driven enthusiastically.
Larger 305mm by 25mm ventilated front discs are fitted, with 18-inch sport rims and grippy 225/40Z R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber.
The hand brake is of the old mechanical type, but that’s just fine with us.
The lack of manual transmission is disappointing, but it’s a recipe for decent performance otherwise and the GT delivers on all fronts.
The red stitched, leather-clad sports pews provide plenty of support when needed and are both heated and cooled, with power adjustment for the driver’s seat.
In terms of performance and handling it sits somewhere between predecessors the Cerato Koup Turbo and much lamented Pro_cee’d GT.
The first was softer, the latter more focused and harder-edged.
We took the new GT on a searching, lengthy drive over some winding mountain roads and found the car difficult to fault — at least at the price.
There’s no turbo lag to speak of and the gear changes are surprisingly smooth and intuitive for a twin clutch, with just the one hiccup as were were ascending a particularly steep section of road with hairpin turns.