When one has had a lengthy string of sports and Grand Turismo cars through the decades, and eventually turns old, grey and slow, the love of cars doesn’t stop.
Common sense prevails and one goes for something that looks like a jalapeño-hottie, with a rather milder form of chilli under the bonnet.
So one had a chat to Dr Goodsense who suggested one check out Kia’s Cerato Sport+.
What’s it cost?
Ceratos come in sedan and hatchback — same price, your choice — starting from $19,990 for the S with manual shift, then the Sport ($24,790), the Sport+ as reviewed for $27,290 and the range-topping GT, which costs $32,990.
Then there are safety packs and other optional bits and pieces that can be added to tailor the model you fancy to more precise needs.
The Sport+ looks like a fiery Cerato GT, but, with just one exhaust pipe instead of two — it obviously isn’t.
No, instead of 150kW of turbo, the Sport+ has the same 2.0-litre naturally aspirated 112kW/192Nm four-pot as the regular Cerato.
But it also has tuned Oz-suspension, 17-inch alloys with good low-profile rubber and a fine interior with sporty overtones plus a lot of luxuries, all of which add up to making an old bloke think life’s not so bad.
The features in the Sport+ are pretty impressive and include 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satnav, dual-zone climate control, leather trim, heated front seats, push-button start and proximity key, electric mirrors, cruise control, parking sensors fore and aft and LED running lights.
It also comes with the aforementioned Safety Pack, which adds a ‘Fusion II’ camera- and radar-based AEB system that detects and avoids flattening cyclists and errant pedestrians, as well as a reverse camera, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, electric-folding side mirrors, and a hotshot steering wheel and shift knob.
There’s also a six-speaker stereo system and an electro-chromatic rearview mirror.
The interior has ample head, leg and shoulder room front and the back and those in the rear pew can enjoy the comfort of a fold-down armrest with a pair of cupholders.
The boot is a generous 502 litres and the rear seats are 60:40 split folds that can be lowered from inside the boot via individual levers to liberate more room for the stuff one inevitably ends up with from either Ikea or Bunnings. Or both.
What’s it go like?
From a driving point of view, well, there’s no turbo and while 112kW might sound modest, it runs pretty well.
No problem staying with the traffic though – zero to 100km/h in 9.8sec and easy cruising on the open road.
If you drive it hard, the engine becomes a bit rackety, but that only happens when you’re well over the speed limit.
Also, although it has a firm Euro-style ride, it’s actually a smoother drive than in the GT.
There’s minimal body roll through the corners and the sorted steering and good stoppers make for some joyous motoring if you can find a nice twisty stretch of bitumen.
Instrumentation is comprehensive, easy to read and all the buttons are where you’d expect them to be.
The pedals are well placed, visibility A1 and the overall driving experience is smile worthy.
Average fuel consumption is a claimed 7.4L/100km and our usual urban/suburban/country mix showed 7.7 — which generate more smiles.
If it sounds like your cup Darjeeling, well, more good news is you can pick from nine spectacularly-named colours like platinum graphite, aurora black pearl, runway red etc, which add some $500 to the price – unless you’re happy to settle for the standard ‘clear’ white.
And let’s not forget Kia’s seven-year, unlimited distance warranty and capped price servicing.