Pre-release teasers for the new Corolla rival promised a sleek fastback-style sedan, and in production form the Cerato delivers, with a gently arching roofing and styling details around the headlight and grille that take their inspiration from Kia's flagship Stinger liftback.
American customers will have access to a new in-house developed Intelligent Variable Transmission, or IVT, which is the Korean brand’s take on a continuously variable transmission as already featured in some segment rivals.
Kia claims its development work on the new auto solves some of the issues previously associated with this type of transmission by surrounding the assembly with a noise-insulator to reduce droning and creating a stepped gear change in response to open throttle applications.
US customers will also revieve an efficiency-enhanced Atkinson-cycle version of the existing Forte's 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, while the version of the new Cerato slated for Australian showrooms from mid-2018 will differ slightly from its American counterpart by retaining the current Cerato's 2.0-litre MPI engine and six-speed torque converter automatic.
Australia's version of the Cerato is also expected to deliver power and torque figures close to the current car's 112kW and 192Nm putting it slightly ahead the overseas version's 109kW and 179Nm outputs
“The compact sedan segment is highly competitive, but with all the improvements the new Forte brings to market for the 2019 model year, it is more than prepared to take on the toughest the segment has to offer,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning for Kia Motors America.
“As one of our top-selling models, the all-new Forte follows some large footsteps, but enhancements in styling, packaging and content make it even more attractive to drivers seeking a compact sedan that can accommodate their versatile lifestyle.”
The new-generation Cerato grows in length by 81mm to 4640mm, width has been increased by 17mm to 1798mm, and overall height rises by 13mm to 1440mm. The changes have been made to the benefit of cabin access, while Kia’s engineers have also worked to improve outward visibility.
The body structure benefits from a 16 percent increase in rigidity thanks to the use of Advanced High Strength Steel throughout 54 percent of the vehicle, with flow-on benefits to noise and vibration reduction, plus changes made to handling responsiveness.
Inside the cabin the new Cerato ups the ante with redesigned seat frames, high-density foam, and improved lumbar support to aid long-distance comfort.
On-board technology available overseas gets a boost via a new 8.0-inch touchscreen system incurorating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with wireless charging available on some variants. A new 320 watt Harman Kardon premium audio option also joins the options list for North American vehicles.
Driver assist systems available on the new Cerato include Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, and distance-keeping Smart Cruise Control.
Full details of the Cerato, including features and specifications for Australia, are yet to be confirmed with information expected to be released closer to the new models Australian launch however Kia Australia has confirmed that the new model will launch in mid 2018.
Australian customers will first see the sedan in S, Sport, and SportPlus trims with a top-shelf GT variant and a range of hatchback version set to join the range at a later date, with speculation suggesting a turbocharged engine may find its way into the GT for an Aussie-first performance skewed version of the Cerato.