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Posted: 19 February 2017
Price: R299 995
Engine: 1591 cc, DOHC, dual CVVT 16-valve four-cylinder
Power: 95 kW at 6300 rpm
Torque: 157 Nm at 4850 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 10.1 seconds
Maximum speed: 200 km/h
Carbon dioxide emissions rating: 154 gm/km
Real life fuel consumption: About 7.6 l/100 km
Tank: 50 litres
Luggage: 385 – 1213 litres
Warranty: 5 years / unlimited km; with roadside assistance
Service plan: 5 years / 90 000 km
Please excuse the musical references but Kia has been known to use a few in its time. First, waxing is an oblique reference to Wiktionary's interpretation of Cerato as “waxed.” Second, fortissimo (meaning,"strongly") is a play on Forte, Cerato’s name in some markets.
Now that we have the silliness out of the way, let’s look at what makes Kia’s third-gen Cerato different. Sedans and hatchbacks all get glossy or plain black trim for the ‘tiger-nose’ grille, newly-designed headlamps, new front bumper and fog-lamps and a re-profiled hood. Sedans sport new rear bumper and tail-lights while all get sporty new alloy wheels along with folding electric side mirrors.
Dimensions, brakes, engines and other features remain unchanged. That means there’s still
plenty of people room and luggage space and the cars perform willingly. All models were treated to a richer ambience with new materials for dashboard and door trims, centre fascia
and console hood. The gear lever was redesigned for a more “quality” look and feel, as well as greater comfort when shifting. Warranty terms were improved too. See the numbers box.
The range was rationalised to do away with 2.0-litre SX versions and replace them with 1.6
SXs. There are just the two motors. If you want a turbocharged 1600 you will have to spring
for a Koup.
Priced just off R300 000, the entry-level Cerato is mixing with serious players from VW-Audi, the French, sister company Hyundai, Chevrolet, Honda and Opel. It’s a tough group and
we can’t help feeling it may be showing its age a bit. This particular model, although still working well, has been around for a while.
We also believe that its braking and handling electronics (Cerato EX has only ABS and EBD),
and certain features, are falling behind slightly. If you want ESC, stability management, hill hold, touch screen, Xenon lights and a reversing camera you will need to pay the premium for an SX.
On the other hand six airbags, with an “off” switch for the passenger’s frontal unit, ISOFix anchors and fiddle-proof kiddie locks all show that Kia is serious about safety in other respects. Further, the Gamma engine’s outputs of 95 kilowatts and 157 Nm are both good for an unboosted 1600 which, obviously, cannot ever blow an expensive turbo. Chalk up a few for peace of mind.
On the road, Cerato feels solid and stable, is decently quiet and it handles well. The rev-counter shows just above 3000 rpm at 120 km/h in sixth and, while not a rocket, the car
rolls-on comfortably. The short gear lever falls easily to hand and provides smooth and positive gear changes, pedals work smoothly, are comfortably spaced for big feet and it’s easy to find the footrest when needed. Steering is light and positive and its 10.6-metre turning circle is about average for its class.
Our only complaint on the liveability score (another musical pun – apologies) is one aimed at all modern cars built to the ‘four-door coupé’ look that manufacturers persistently insist we all want. Narrow side- and rear windows restrict one’s view out to sides and rear, where most enemy traffic comes from. Cerato is fairly typical of the modern breed in this respect; wide rear pillars and a narrow screen make it difficult to see what’s coming from the port and starboard quarters.
Apart from that, the boot is quite big enough (385 litres VDA), neatly shaped and easy to load and unload. Kia thoughtfully provided four lashing rings, two bag hooks, a courtesy light and a non-slip rubber mat to protect the carpeting. Quick-release tabs for the 40:60-split seatbacks can be reached from behind to provide an almost-flat loading platform. As
before, the spare wheel is fully sized and alloy.
Summing up, the Kia Cerato 1.6 EX manual is a good, solid and well-built family car that does all that’s required of it. Our personal opinion is that it’s starting to show its age and competitors are pushing hard. It’s time for a more comprehensive update.
Test unit from Kia Motors SA press fleet
Our review of the 2014 version of this car is here
Automatic version shown
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