Make grand entry, turn heads in new Kia Cerato

2009-09-11 14:49

SOUTH Korean carmaker Kia has never really had much of an eye-catching appeal when it comes to its cars. However, with the launch of the new Cerato this week that might just change.

Interestingly, the Kia Cerato is rather affordable. It’s highly suitable for someone looking for a decent family sedan with the basic trims.

The new models boast lots of personality even though the body lines and light clusters show a bit of resemblance to the Honda Accord and Hyundai Elantra. Even that can be forgiven when one looks back at the first-generation Cerato that was launched locally back in 2004.

The car should also be popular in the local market since Kia is the main partner to the 2010 Fifa World Cup and also partners to the first tennis Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open and the Uefa Euro Cup.

It’s direct rivals are Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Mitsubishi Lanser, Nissan Tiida, Renault Megan, Toyota ­Corolla, the upcoming Chevrolet Cruze and even the VW Jetta.

The Cerato is available in 1.6 and the 2.0 litre engines. Both are available in either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

The “Beta” engines fitted in the previous models have been replaced with a Gamma unit in the 1.6 litre and a Theta II unit in the 2.0 litre.

The 2.0 litre produces 114.7kW of power and 194Nm of torque. The same power plant is expected in the sportier two-door version Cerato Koup set to arrive here next month.

Power figures for the 1.6 are 91kW and 156.7Nm. And top speeds vary between 182km/h and 200km/h ­in the two models.

The car was launched in a very wet and cold Mother City as we got to feel its handling capabilities on the slippery passes to Kleinmond, about 80km out of Cape Town.

Steering might have felt a bit rough but it held its own and stayed on the road, tackling the twists and turns quite well.

Comfort treats on the 1.6 include audio ­controls on the steering wheel, a trip computer, 16-inch wheels and rims, power windows and keyless entry to name a few.

The 2.0 litre boasts leather seats, 17-inch rims, chrome tailpiece, alloy pedals, rear-parking assist sensors and automatic cruise control.

On the safety front there is anti-lock brake system with electronic brake-force distribution, six airbags on both models, height-adjustable head restraints and an automatic impact door unlock. If that is not enough the Cerato offers a tow-bar, headlamp shields and a navigation system as optional extras.

I saved the best part for last – the price. You can get the 2.0 litre for R200 000 or the automatic model for just an extra R10 000.

The price ­includes a four-year/90 000km service plan, five-year/100 000km warranty and three-year/24-hour roadside assist. Service intervals are at every 15 000km.


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