The Kia Cerato is the Korean company’s equivalent of Rob Kardashian. It’s never quite had the same following or success of its more famous sibling.
If you didn’t already know, the Cerato has a lot in common with the hugely popular (and soon-to-be-replaced) Hyundai i30, which has been going toe-to-toe with the Toyota Corolla this year for top spot on the Australian sales podium this year.
While the Hyundai sold 2741 i30s in September (4490 in September 2015) and 29,678 year-to-date, the Kia only shifted 1181 units in the ninth month of 2016 and has found 9762 homes so far this year.
However, this isn’t because the Cerato is an inferior product. Like the Skoda Octavia – the Volkswagen Golf’s ‘lesser’ Czech cousin – the Kia is one of the best-kept secrets in the small car segment. Let’s find out why.
The model on test is the Si sedan, which will set you back $28,990 plus on-road costs. However, Kia is constantly doing deals and is currently advertising this exact model for $28,990 drive-away.
For all those coins you get features like a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, rear-view camera, leather trim, manual air-conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, automatic headlights, push-button start, folding electric mirrors, chrome exterior highlights, 16-inch alloy wheels, and the list goes on.
Safety-wise, all Cerato models have six airbags, front and rear parking sensors, ABS, stability control, hill start assist, vehicle stability management and an emergency stop signal, while the Si variant also picks up driver assistance systems like blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert – however, you need to fork out extra for the top-shelf SLi grade if you want LED daytime-running lights, lane departure warning and forward collision warning.
Despite its strong equipment list, the Cerato still misses out on numerous features offered by competitors, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (though the entry-level S can be optioned with an Android Auto-capable media unit), automatic climate control (SLi only), idle stop/start, along with autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
Measuring 4560mm long, 1780mm wide, 1435mm tall, with a 2700mm wheelbase, the Cerato is 10mm shorter, 20mm slimmer and 5mm lower than the related Hyundai Elantra – though their wheelbases are identical – while the Volkswagen Jetta is 99mm longer, and 2mm thinner, but the German’s wheelbase is 49mm shorter.
The Cerato was facelifted earlier this year, swapping the almost cartoonish front-end styling for a cleaner and more conservative look. Out back, the tail-lights have been revised with darker lenses, while new alloy wheels fill the arches. It’s handsome, if a little boring.
Smaller changes have been made inside, with the main differences different trims and more soft-touch plastics throughout the cabin.
Getting into the driver’s seat, it’s really soft yet supportive – ideal for longer journeys – and the leather trim feels like it will stand the test of time. The steering wheel is finished in a really nice smooth leather and the gloss-black finishes give it a relatively upmarket feel.
It’s shame, though, the Cerato hasn’t been given as good an interior treatment as some newer Kia models, with a mix of hard and soft plastics scattered around the cabin, along with the fake carbon-fibre weave that just looks cheap. Despite this, it’s still a noticeable improvement over the pre-facelift model.
A small TFT display between the tacho and speedo dials can be customised to display a digital speed readout, trip computer or or adjust the settings for numerous vehicle functions including safety systems.
The central infotainment display with satellite navigation is very familiar – it’s the same easy-to-use interface as numerous other Kia and Hyundai models – and the fact it’s slightly angled towards the driver’s seat means you don’t have to cast your eyes too far off the road to get a clear view of the screen.