2015 Kia Cerato road test review | Underrated small car
SLOT the Kia Cerato next to the four-cylinder Ford Falcon.
While they sit poles apart in terms of size, both can claim a spot on Australia's most underrated cars list.
This current generation Cerato has been around since early 2013, yet its good European looks haven't been embraced.
Sales are tracking at less than 3% market share, while sister company Hyundai can lay claim to 17% of the small car genre with its Elantra and i30 combination.
Kia is still working hard to break the cheap and cheerful persona. Testament to its product confidence is the new seven-year warranty and capped-price servicing deal.
The Cerato S Premium arrived this year, squeezing in between the base model and top-spec variants, and with a drive-away price just above $25,000 it comes with a heap of good kit in what presents as an excellent value package.
Leave your preconceived "small" perspective at the door. The Cerato has ample space for the growing family.
Four adults are an easy fit, especially with the flat floor in the rear with no transmission tunnel, and getting into the back is easy, with a good wide door opening.
The dash design is basic, although easy to operate.
Giving an upmarket edge is the 17.7cm colour touch-screen which is an impressive inclusion at this price-point. The only bugbear is in full sun the angle makes the monitor difficult to see.
With the key operations skewed toward the driver, getting a good position at the helm is aided by six-way seat adjustment and you can pump up or deflate the height.
Cloth-trimmed seats offer enough support and are comfortable on longer journeys.
With Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, the key operations are at your fingertips on the steering wheel, and you can even change the steering feel via a button which switches between normal, comfort and sport settings.
On the road
Two engines are available in the Cerato range, but this S Premium comes with the smaller 1.8-litre four-cylinder.
Not so long ago you wouldn't touch a small capacity car without a manual transmission, but the standard six-speed self-shifter combines with the powerplant to offer reasonable performance.
From standstill it will take about 10seconds to reach 100kmh, so it's no sports car, yet for mundane daily duties and highway travels it gets the job done without fuss.
Put the hammer down and the Cerato will work hard to respond, but we suspect buyers in the small sedan realm aren't chasing a fire-cracker - rather a solid and reliable all-rounder.
Kia Australia's local tuning arm made significant modifications to the vehicle we have here compared to the one produced for overseas markets and it feels rock-solid. Each tug of the wheel provides a linear and predictable response. Most importantly, the bride found it extremely easy to drive.
What do you get?
Specification is impressive for this coin, you get 16-inch alloys, sat nav, 17.7cm colour touch-screen and DVD player added to the basics, such as air con, front and rear parking sensors, along with a reversing camera, six airbags, six-speaker stereo with Bluetooth phone and audio compatibility, cruise control and a trip computer. You even get a full-size spare alloy… a rare modern day feature.
They don't come much better than Kia's coverage. The warranty is an industry-leading seven years, while the capped price servicing over the same term is at the lower end of the cost scale. Fuel consumption should be under eight litres for every 100km, and it's E10 compatible, which is not segment leading, nor is it heavy.
Storage has been well considered and there is a large bin with a cover in front of the shifter and a console to house keys, wallets, phones and music players.
Takeaway coffees are looked after via four cup holders, and each door can also cope with a bottle.
Rear seats have a 60:40 fold, they drop nearly flat, although the wheel arches impede on the load space.
The Cerato does have an 1100kg towing capacity with a tow ball rating of 75kg - good enough for a small trailer.
Given the European design lines, it's surprising the Cerato hasn't grabbed more of the market.
In both hatch and sedan guises the Cerato is beautifully proportioned. Penned under the guidance of former Volkswagen and Audi design guru Peter Schreyer, we rate it as the segment stand-out.
When it comes to compact sedans, buyers are traditionally conservative, with a focus on reliability and low running costs. The Cerato ticks those boxes and this model also excels in other areas, with an impressive list of features usually found on much more expensive variants.
It is the smaller four-cylinder petrol engine option, and those looking for more urgent response during acceleration can opt for the more powerful 2.0-litre but that costs an additional $4000.
What matters most
What we liked: Outstanding features for this price-point, easy to drive, spacious.
What we'd like to see: Improved monitor projection in full sun, slightly better fuel consumption.
Warranty and servicing: Seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Capped-price servicing is available at dealers for seven years or 105,000km. Servicing intervals are annual or every 15,000km. Average servicing price is $346.
Model: MY15 Kia Cerato S Premium.
Details: Four-door front-wheel drive small sedan.
Engines: 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 110kW @ 6500rpm and peak torque of 178Nm @ 4700rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 7.1 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 10.2 seconds.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $24,990.