The latest incarnation of Kia’s evergreen, mid-sized sedan.
There’s been pushing and pulling of sheet-metal, some style tweaks, and a refreshed interior.
The hatch is due for the same treatment and will be released before Christmas, says Kia.
There has been a name change too, with the range now designated S, Sport and Sport+.
Under the restyled bonnet is Kia’s proven 2.0-litre petrol-fed four. Although somewhat coarse and noisy at times, try to overlook that in favour of excellent fuel economy.
All come with an auto, but only the S has the option of a manual.
There’s a choice of nine colours, but only one is a no-cost option.
Our test cars were Steel Grey (S), Horizon Blue (Sport), and Snow White Pearl (Sport+) — all of which are extra.
What’s it cost?
The S is listed at $23,790. The Sport is $25,790 while the top tier Sport+ is $28,290 — all before on road costs.
Service costs are spread over Kia’s seven-year warranty period and will sting the bank balance for $2869.
Premium paint adds $520.
There is an extensive list of standard equipment across the three tiers.
Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning (Car Avoidance) is there, with the Sport+ gaining Pedestrian and Cycle Avoidance. Lane Keep Assist, Emergency Stop Signal, front and rear parking sensors and parking display on an 8.0-inch touchscreen are all standard.
But Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are optional.
The first two models in the range come with cloth trim, while the Sport+ has dual zone aircon and leather seats with heating. Again, though, there’s no venting for the front seats.
Turbine style air vents echo the Stinger and are a nod towards the style of the 1980s, as do the circular design of the speakers. There’s a muted alloy look to the trim highlights in the S and Sport — more upmarket in the Sport+.
There are separate USB points, located in their own cluster, for charging and the standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto with voice activation connection too.
Bluetooth is standard for all three as is DAB, accessed via the Euro style centre dash layout that stands proud of the plastics, rather than integrated into the design.
Outside the Cerato has received a substantial massage up front. Kia says the headlight structure is aligned with big brother Stinger, down to the four LEDs in the driving light cluster for the Sport+.
The redesign has the cluster itself flowing back into the raised bonnet line. The S and Sport have halogens in the lower front air dam while all three having black painted ducts and indicator lights at each front corner.
At the rear the lights have also been freshened into a sleeker, slim line look.
The windscreen has been moved back as well, with an extra 127mm of bonnet space combining with the lifted lines to resemble a certain Japanese luxury brand at a certain angle. Overall length is 4640mm with the 2700mm wheelbase carried over.
It doesn’t however mean interior space is in anyway compromised. Legroom front and rear is more than adequate, shoulder room and head room is fine, and cargo space suits the family at 434 litres.
There are four bottle holders, four cup holders, an illuminated glovebox and rear seat pocket for the Sport+.
The boot release for all three is either on the key fob, inside next to the driver’s seat, or in the case of the Sport+ — next to the reverse camera housing.
What’s it go like?
Peak power of 112kW is delivered at 6200 revs and peak torque is available at 4000 revs. The 6-speed auto makes good use of both and there’s a noticeable change in overall behaviour come 3000 revs.
It’s a smooth ride across the three, with the Sport+ having a firmer, tauter, skippier ride than the others. That’s curious as it shares the same 225/45/17 alloy and rubber combo as the Sport.
The S has a smoother and plusher ride, even with the 205/55 tyres on steel wheels with plastic covers.
On a long sweeper of a turn, the Sport+ tends more towards a rear end skip after crossing the heat expansion grids in the tarmac.
A momentary steering correction is needed, as opposed to the more settled damping of the S and Sport. A dab of the brakes nails the front end down nicely, with the 280mm vented fronts and 262mm solid disc rears easily feeding back what’s needed to the well balanced pedal.
Handling is largely neutral, with hints of understeer at speeds above 30km/h in tight bends. The steering feels well weighted, with a natural heft to the spin left and right.
Merge the drive modes that Kia continues to fettle, being Eco, Comfort, and Smart, along with Sport when tipping the gear selector to the right, and the ride and drive quality never fails to impress.
The other side to this is the engine. Although it pulls well from around 2500 to 3000 revs it tends to wail and feel unsettled from 3000 onwards.
It’s a coarse, almost harsh, metallic sound, and it’s not altogether a pleasant sound or sensation. It’s a pity as the transmission is slick and smooth, and in Sports mode, really brings a fizz to the experience.
I finished with fuel figures for all three of 6.5-7.0L/100km.
Bearing in mind the S had the most klicks on pickup, at around 2300km driven, none of the trio were really worked in, so that economy, better than Kia’s quoted urban and combined figures of 10.2L/7.4L/100km, is outstanding.
Tank size is 50 litres and fuel is standard unleaded.
What we like?
Excellent standard equipment
Spunky exterior lines
Overall very good ride and handling
What we don’t like?
Lack of exterior boot release on S and Sport
Sport+ handling not quite on par
Raucous upper end to the engine
The bottom Line?
It’s a handsome look to the Cerato now. It’s undergone a few style changes in recent years, taking it from somewhat blobby and rounded to hard edged. This combo, in my opinion, nails it, especially in Horizon Blue.
A great standard equipment list across the range and a good price structure helps appeal.