Kia's trendy family pick: Meet the refreshed Cerato

Pretoria - Kia is known for its stylish, radical vehicles, though 10 years ago you would never have associated these traits with the brand. Now, the Korean automaker's trendy vehicles are mobile billboards.

The revised Cerato is one of four models from the automaker to be launched locally from September 2016. The stunning next-generation Sportage is set to arrive locally later in 2016, followed by the new Picanto and Rio in 2017.

While the Picanto and the Rio make for great entry-level and first-time family choices, the Cerato presents itself as the next step-up in the fiercely-contested local C-segment.

Under the bonnet

The upgraded, third-generation Cerato will be available in either hatchback or sedan guise, and with two engines, in the form of a four-cylinder 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre units, both in EX trim, while the 1.6-litre variant will also be available in the higher specification SX trim.

The base version is powered by a 95kW 1.6-litre ‘Gamma’ engine, while the 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ engine is capable of 118kW.

Kia says it has revised the Cerato range based on segment trends and customer demand. Both hatch and sedan are available in EX trim - both offered with a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed auto. The previous range-topping 2.0-litre SX models have been replaced by the 1.6 SX variant (hatch and sedan).

Curiously, the 1.6 SX hatch is only available with a six-speed manual, while the 1.6 SX sedan is only available with a six-speed auto. 

What's it like to drive

I tested the 1.6-litre EX manual at the local launch in Pretoria. The launch route started in Edenvale to Hazelwood (and back). The route provided good distances along highways and through suburbs. 

The 1.6-litre engine is great for city driving, and though it can hold its own on Gauteng's highways, it felt underpowered at times, especially on steep inclines. The six-speed manual gearbox feels much better than before and makes for smooth shifting. The route didn't give us an opportunity to toss the car about in corners, though performance is not Cerato's forte.

The Cerato makes a great choice for those seeking a good-looking, family-orientated vehicle with a large cargo area, capable of getting from point A to B with minimal fuss. Definitely good value for money, at least compared to its rivals.

Kia says its auto-equipped units are fitted with a new Drive Mode Select (DMS) system with three selectable modes - Normal, Sport and Comfort - to enhance, the automaker says, driver engagement. 

What's new?

The refreshed Cerato retains its low, coupe-like roofline and sleek silhouette though it gains several design tweaks. It now sports black black trim along the automaker's signature 'tiger-nose' grille. There are new headlights, new front and rear bumpers, enhanced fog lights, and a newly designed bonnet along with power, folding side-mirrors.

The sedan gains new taillights, new bumpers and sporty alloys.

Dimensions remain the same at 4.56m long, 1.78m wide, 1.45m high with a 2.7m wheelbase. The enhanced Cerato is available in a choice of 10 exterior colours.

There are new dashboard and door trim materials, including new materials for the gear-shift lever. The centre fascia and console hood has been redesigned, while silver and piano black trim adds a touch of flare to the interior.

What's in the trim?

The 1.6 EX models has air-con, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise control buttons, automatic light control, powered windows, LED daytime running lights, an MP3/iPod/USB radio with CD front loader, rear air vents, six speakers, 60/40-split rear seats, as well as Iosfix child seat anchors. 

The 2.0 EX features the above plus an upgraded instrument cluster and leather upholstery. 

The 1.6 SX models adds HID xenon headlights, a rear view camera, a smart key with stop/start button, a 'welcome-lighting' system, front and rear-park distance control, a supervision TFT LCD cluster and automatic dual-zone air-con.

Kia will announce when the Cerato will go on sale later in 2016.


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