Safety, Value and Features
of theia’s Cerato has remained steadfastly true to its roots as a value-driven small hatch and sedan range for over two decades. But just over a year ago, it got a pretty cool new look that added a bit of sparkle to the proposition.
It’s a simple and straightforward car in 2.0-litre automatic form, in the sense that it doesn’t try to do too much. It’s more than just basic transportation, though, even in the entry-level S with a good basic safety package and fairly linear investment with standard specs.
And it seems the formula continues to work as Serato continues to sell well. You can still get one for under thirty grand, but if you’re willing to spend a little more, what do you get for the top of the range 2.0-liter?
How much is it, and what do you get?
The current Cerato range made its debut just over a year ago with a fresh Kia badge and a more attractive front end. Prices – inevitably – have been heading north since then, with the range starting at $25,990 for the steel-wheeled S and going up to $35,790 for the GT, all before on-road costs.
The car I had for the week was the potential Goldilocks of the range, the Sport+, which starts at $31,140 before on-road costs.
|17 inch alloy wheels (space saver spare)|
|Six speaker stereo|
|10.25 inch touch screen|
|Wired Apple CarPlay|
|Wired Android Auto|
|Adaptive cruise control|
|DAB+ digital radio|
|Keyless entry and start|
|Dual zone climate control|
|Halogen headlights with auto high beam|
|Imitation leather upholstery|
The faux leather interior is perfectly acceptable and feels quite durable. I really like the addition of the large touch screen with all its clever (and fun) features and it makes the car feel more special than it’s worth.
How do competitors compare on value?
Cerato’s main competitors are serious, and have to survive in this shrinking market segment.
The smaller Corolla sedan can be had in SX hybrid form for $33,780 plus on-road costs (and longer waiting times). Although recently refreshed, it’s not feature-packed and the interior is still a bit ho-hum, but it’s quite economical if the car is cheap to drive and look.
Mazda will sell you its G20 Touring Automatic for $32,090 plus on-road costs. It’s the best-looking car in the segment but doesn’t have the legroom of the Serato or the big screen, although otherwise it’s equipped with a bit of give and take. The 3 hatch looks even better if you can afford to lose a fair bit of boot space.
Hyundai’s i30 Sedan is $31,690 in Elite Auto trim. The Cerato comes with a comfortable spacious interior, large boot and a great touchscreen media system. Not too much You can have the N-Line with the turbo engine in a manual, or an auto for a bit more. It’s great to see.
Interior comfort, space and storage
Starting with the driver’s seat, you do just fine. The seats are comfortable and the faux leather does a convincing job of not feeling like vinyl. The steering wheel is covered with the same material and is really nice to use.
You have a set of analog dials with the now-ubiquitous digital screen in between, and it all works fine. The media screen is Hyundai-Kia’s monster 10.25-inch unit, which somehow fails to dominate the interior.
Two cup holders are provided in the front along with bottle holders in the doors. Space for your phone – with two USB-A ports and 12 volts – also accommodates larger phones.
Most of the materials are great but the lower you go into the cabin, the more scratchy the plastic gets. It’s kind of a Kia thing.
Moving to the rear, there’s a fairly flat rear bench seat but plenty of leg, knee and headroom for a car in this class. There are two cup holders in the armrest to go with the bottle holders in the doors, but they won’t hold anything bigger than a 500ml disposable. At the rear of the center console is a USB-A port and luckily there are air vents.
It’s pretty drab and gray inside, save for some metallic highlights on the front and door handles, but the light-colored headliner and generous glass area mean there’s plenty of light.
As this is a sedan, you get a huge boot of 502 liters (428 in the hatch), which is pretty decent for a car of this footprint.
How is it to drive?
|engine||2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated|
|power||112kW @ 6200rpm|
|Torque||192Nm @ 4000rpm|
The Cerato has never been about excitement, at least not in 2.0-litre front-wheel-drive spec. Last year’s facelift included a suspension resurfacing program but a combination of COVID and the fact that there wasn’t much wrong with it in the first place meant that nothing really changed.
And that’s a good thing. Serato is huge and easy to live with. As long as you stay well within its admittedly low limits, it’s a refined, well-balanced combination of ride and handling.
In the city, it handles bumps without fuss even on big 17s and takes everything the urban roads throw at it. The steering is light and direct, so you’re not twisting your arms while parking or spending your life steering just to get into simple corners.
You won’t hear much from the engine, which is great. While the transmission is well-tuned to deliver what you need when you need it, asking for too much modest power and torque figures will get you a grunt from under the bonnet.
No one is under the illusion that this engine is a classic of the genre, but it’s running a bit low and doesn’t have extra fuel-saving measures like cylinder deactivation or stop-start. But it is very simple and by all accounts reliable.
Is it interesting? Good numbers but there is almost nothing in this segment and for a good reason – nobody wants it, at least not in large numbers.
How about the fuel?
Kia says you’ll get 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle. My week with the Cerato was mostly bombing around the suburbs and delivering a respectable 8.9L/100km on 91 RON fuel. Not a million miles away from the joint of similarly sized and powered SUVs with less gear and less interior space and not quite as thirsty.
|Official combined cycle||7.4L/100km|
|ON TEST (Trip Computer)||8.9L/100km|
|Type of fuel||91 RON|
|Fuel tanks||50 litres|
How safe is it?
The Cerato achieved a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2019. Items in the list marked with an asterisk are part of the Sport+ feature available on the Sport without the optional safety pack.
|Stability and traction control|
|Lane Keep Assist|
|Lane departure warning|
|Forward AEB (car and pedestrian detection) (cyclist detection*)|
|Lane Follow Assist|
|Driver attention detection|
|Rear resident alert|
|Supervising Blind Sports*|
|Rear Cross Traffic Alert*|
|Safe Exit Warning*|
You also get two lots of ISO fix points and three top tether anchors to secure child seats.
Warranty and running costs
Kia offers a speed-setting seven-year, unlimited kilometer warranty. The length of the warranty is only bettered by Mitsubishi’s ten-year coverage but then again, Mitsubishi doesn’t have a small hatch or sedan on offer.
A fixed-price servicing program covers the first seven intervals, which are every 12 months or 15,000km. All seven services will cost you $2939 for an average of $420 per year, which we think is a bit steep for a car that isn’t very complicated.
The Kia Cerato sedan does everything it’s supposed to do and does it very well. It’s reasonably priced by current standards, looks good enough and has a welcoming interior with enough toys and features to justify the price.
It doesn’t have the look of the i30 sedan, the Corolla’s hybrid option or the Mazda3’s soft vibe. But it’s practical, sensible and a car for people who don’t want drama.
And, as it turns out, these are very few people.
2022 Kia Cerato Sport+ Specifications
|Body||4 door, 5 seat small sedan|
|engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Bore stroke||81.0 x 97.0 mm|
|power||112kW @ 6200rpm|
|Torque||192Nm @ 4000rpm|
|The weight||1320 kg (kg)|
|Fuel consumption||7.4L/100km claimed.|
|Suspension||Strut (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)|
|Wheel base||2700 mm|
|Brake||280mm single piston (front), 284mm single piston (rear)|
|Tire||225/45 R17 Kumho Ecsta PS71 (f&r)|
|The wheels||17 inch alloy (space saver spare)|
|Price||$31,140 + on-road costs|
Safety, Value and Features
Things we like.
- Still good value
- Comfortable interior
- Good security and technical inclusion
- Long warranty
Not so much
- A bit mechanical
- Service pricing
- Drury Engine