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Date: 28 May 2018 Author Type: Public Review
Author: Julian Lurie Edited by Liam Mothilall
Source: Julian Lurie
The Cerato has been a top seller for Kia, however not a brand to rest on its laurels, it benefitted from a subtle upgrade about 18 months ago, giving the updated Cerato a more modern look. There are six variants in the Cerato range but the model featured in these road impressions, is the Cerato 1.6 SX 6-Speed Manual Hatch. 

Viewed from the front, the Cerato gets an updated black or gloss black trim for KIA’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille, as well as newly-designed headlamps, fog lamps, a new front bumper, a re-profiled hood and electric folding side mirrors, while the press vehicle was fitted with sportier new 10-spoke alloy wheels shod with 205/55R16 Nexus tyres, and a full size spare under the boot-board. Out back, the tail-lights have been revised with darker lenses, there’s built-in fog-lights, a small spoiler above the tail-gate, rear glass wash-wipe system and a B-Sting antenna on the rear roof.

On the inside, the cabin is well finished, the modern cloth upholstery would appear to be durable and there’s a comfortable air of quality throughout the cabin, with new materials to the dashboard and door trims, as well as to the center fascia and console cover. The front bucket seats are well bolstered and comfortable and there’s still plenty of room in the second row, even behind longer-legged front-seat passengers. The rear bench is designed for three but more comfortable for two. The boot, with a capacity of about 380 litres, is large for a hatch, and packs plenty luggage when going the annual holiday. The multi-function 3-spoke steering wheel is adjustable for reach and rake and all instruments are decently positioned. The manual gearlever has also been redesigned for a higher quality look and feel, as well as improving comfort when actuating shifts.

Standard equipment for the 1.6 EX includes; air-conditioning, automatic light control, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel-mounted controls for audio and cruise control, front and rear electric windows, LED daytime running lights, an MP3/iPod/USB compatible radio with CD front loader, rear air vents, six speakers, 60/40-split rear seats, as well as ISOFIX child seat anchors. Safety equipment includes six airbags, rear parking sensors, ABS with EBD, and hill start assist.

The new Cerato 1.6 EX is powered by Kia’s 1.6 litre ‘Gamma’ petrol engine, developing 95 kW at 6 300 RPM and 157 Nm of torque from 4 850 RPM, and sends power to the front wheels through the 6-speed manual gearbox. In acceleration tests, holding the manual gear change to the 6 200 RPM red line before changing to the next highest gear, the Cerato set a time of 10.3 seconds for the 0 to 100 km/h dash and has a top speed of around 200 km/h.

Driving the new Cerato is quite a pleasure, as it’s a plain down-to earth car. In the urban areas, thanks to its well-tuned suspension, the Cerato handles imperfections like potholes and rough tar very well, and the car’s good turning circle and well-weighted steering wheel makes it easy to manoeuvre in restricted areas. On the highway, the Cerato will cruise nicely at the 120 km/h limit with the motor spinning at just 3 000 RPM, and at 160 km/h if you dare, it registers 4 100 RPM. Tyre and wind noise are kept to a minimum, even on the highway, which helps to give the Cerato hatch an inviting and somewhat upmarket ambience on the move. Engine noise is also well suppressed, and it’s quiet even when idling. At fairly high speeds in the bends, there is very little body roll, and the light but direct steering makes the car easy to handle, and even at speed, the Cerato is well-balanced and re-acts well to driver input. As in many electric power steering systems however, the Cerato is low on feedback. 

The recommended retail selling price for the KIA Cerato 1.6 EX 6-speed Manual Hatch is R299 995, but if you prefer, you can get the sedan for the same price. The price includes KIA’s class-leading 5-year / Unlimited Kilometer warranty, 5-year / Unlimited Kilometers Roadside Assistance as well as a 5-year / 90 000 km Service Plan.
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