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2013 Kia Cerato Hatch Review Photo:
 
 
Tony O'Kane | Aug, 19 2013 | 9 Comments

2013 KIA CERATO HATCH REVIEW

What’s Hot: Zesty engines, sorted on-road handling.
What’s Not: No standard sat-nav, limited headroom in SLi.
X-Factor: More than just a good looker, the Cerato hatch is one of the best in its segment.

Vehicle Style: Small hatchback
Engine/trans: 110kW/178Nm 1.8 petrol, 129kW/209Nm 2.0 petrol | 6sp manual, 6sp auto.
Price: $19,990 (Cerato S manual, on-the-road) to $30,990 (Cerato SLi auto, before on-roads)
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.6 l/100km (1.8 manual), 7.1 l/100km (1.8 auto), 7.4 l/100km (2.0 manual and auto)

 

OVERVIEW

Once the top-seller in Kia’s stable, the Cerato has recently fallen behind the Rio and Sportage in the popularity stakes.

But salvation is at hand. The all-new sedan variant which launched in April this year has finally been joined by its hatch-backed sister, expected to account for 70 percent of all Cerato sales.

Priced from $19,990 drive-away for the base Cerato S manual, the new hatch launches with a pricetag that’s as attractive as its Schreyer-styled sheetmetal.

Style and value will surely get punters into the showroom, but what will they find once they’re in there?

 

THE INTERIOR

The base model Cerato S has more hard plastic surfaces - particularly on the door trim - and the colour scheme is a sombre black-on-black-on-black, but this is a quality interior that’s both easy on the eyes and easy to get settled into.

The front seats provide good comfort and support, and in the top-grade SLi the driver even gets a heated and ventilated seat.

However, those seats could do with a greater range of height adjustment, as very tall drivers may find their scalp scraping on the headliner on the sunroof-equipped, Cerato SLi.

No such worries in the back. A 51mm wheelbase stretch means legroom is in good supply and headroom is equally plentiful; three kids or two adults will comfortably fit across the bench.

Only the Si and SLi get face-level air vents for the rear passengers - something worth thinking about in a country with a hot climate.

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There’s the usual array of infotainment options, with Bluetooth phone and audio integration being standard across the range plus a USB audio input.

You’ll need to step up to the $23,990 Si to get a reversing camera and alloy wheels, plus the aforementioned rear air outlets.

The SLi adds a powered driver’s seat, leather upholstery, heated front seats (heated and ventilated for the driver), dual-zone climate control, a different instrument cluster and a host of other features, but sat nav remains a $1000 option - and is restricted to the SLi only.

 

ON THE ROAD

The base engine is Kia’s familiar 1.8 litre “Nu” engine, a naturally-aspirated petrol four that produces 110kW and 178Nm of torque.

It’s only fitted to the base Cerato S, but it’s a perfectly adequate motor for everyday motoring. We drove it paired with the standard six-speed manual, and it is a joy to drive.

Linear power delivery, slick gearshift, easily-modulated clutch. It needs plenty of revs to get anywhere fast, but that’s true of every sub 2.0-litre atmo engine.

Move up to the Si or SLi, and you get the 2.0 litre GDi (that stands for Gasoline Direct Injection) four-pot.

Outputs of 129kW and 209Nm make this one of the most powerful engines in a non-sporty small car, and out on the road it feels stronger than the 1.8 litre when powering up hills.

But settle into a cruise, and it doesn’t feel all that much more lively than the 1.8. It’s only when you delve into the upper reaches of the rev range that you truly notice a difference.

We only drove the 2.0 GDi with the six speed automatic (a $2000 option), but this is the configuration that most buyers will opt for. It’s a good combo, with smooth shifts and a solid spread of ratios that don’t leave the engine out of breath.

The trans can at times be a bit reluctant to kick down, but there’s no hunting up hills and the manual mode is reasonably quick to respond.

Like the sedan, the Cerato Hatch also boasts Kia’s Flexsteer system, which changes the electric power steering strength according to driver preference.

In Sport mode it’s much too heavy, while the Comfort setting should probably have been used as the default. Most owners will likely never fiddle with it, but our preference would be just to leave it in Comfort most of the time.

That aside, the steering is responsive and direct. There’s none of the usual on-centre inconsistency that plagues some electric power steering systems.

Like the steering, the suspension is a little on the firm side but otherwise does the job. There’s good compliance over rough roads, yet enough bump damping to give it crisp turn-in and stability through corners.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

Kia’s Cerato hatch is bound to make waves in the small car segment. Even though the aggressive discounting of its competitors has eroded Kia’s traditional price advantage, the Cerato hatch in all its forms is a very appealing unit.

Kia reckons the base model S will soak up the lion’s share of sales, but we believe the real sweet spot for consumers lies with the mid-grade Si.

It’s a shame that sat-nav remains an option, and an option that can only be had on the $28,990 Cerato SLi.

With so many competing brands now offering integrated navigation units for no extra cost - and on lesser grades - this is an oversight that will hopefully be corrected by Kia.

 

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

Hatch

  • S - 1.8 petrol - manual - $19,990
  • S - 1.8 petrol - auto - $21,990
  • Si - 2.0 petrol - manual - $23,990
  • Si - 2.0 petrol - auto - $25,590
  • SLi - 2.0 petrol - manual - $27,990
  • SLi - 2.0 petrol - auto - $29,990
  • SLi with nav - 2.0 petrol - manual - $28,990
  • SLi with nav - 2.0 petrol - auto - $30,990

Sedan

  • S - 1.8 petrol - manual - $19,990
  • S - 1.8 petrol - auto - $21,990
  • Si - 2.0 petrol - manual - $23,990
  • Si - 2.0 petrol - auto - $25,990
  • Sli - 2.0 petrol - manual - $27,990
  • Sli - 2.0 petrol - auto - $29,990

 
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