AUSTRALIA IS A BIT ‘ODD’ WHEN IT COMES TO CARS LIKE THE 2016 KIA CERATO Si SEDAN. It's that sedan word; when it comes to small cars, we just don't warm to the notion of the sticky-out boot.
And we buy small hatches in far greater numbers.
Which is a funny thing because under the skin the Cerato sedan is everything the hatch is. There are obvious style differences when you get to the rear, but otherwise that’s all there is to it.
Or is it? Is there a hidden lure in the Cerato hatch that the sedan misses out on? We decided to find out.
Vehicle Style: Small sedan
Price: $28,990 (driveaway)
Engine/trans: 112kW/192Nm 2.0 4cyl petrol | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.1 l/100km | Tested: 8.6 l/100km
With four trim-levels to pick from the Kia Cerato offers ‘something for everyone’. In the case of the Cerato Si, its upmarket trim has it skewed towards the more premium end of the small car market.
In the Si you’ll find niceties like leather seat-trim, rear seat air-vents, push-button start, and blind spot monitoring - all little extras that are handy to have, but maybe not essential.
You also get a 2.0 litre engine and a six-speed automatic as standard in the Cerato Si, with no manual option available at this level, and yet you can take it home for less than $30k driveaway.
- Standard equipment: Leather seat trim, trip computer, cruise control, proximity key with push-button start, cooled glovebox, front and rear parking sensors, dusk-sensing headlights, rear air vents, power folding mirrors, soft-touch interior surfaces, premium steering wheel, leather-look instrument cover, chrome interior door handles, 16-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen, MP3/AM/FM playback satellite navigation, Android Auto (now) and Apple CarPlay (via software update), Aux and USB input, six speakers, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity
- Cargo volume: 482 litres, expandable via 60:40 folding rear seat
Step inside the Cerato Si and the immediate obvious difference (compared to lesser models in the range) is leather seat trim.
There’s also a leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise control, audio, and trip computer buttons, plus you'll find manual air conditioning, and push-button start with keyless entry.
Kia’s 7.0-inch touchscreen gives access to smartphone mirroring (Android Auto for now with Apple CarPlay coming soon via an update) as well as Bluetooth, radio, and satellite navigation.
The cabin is generously proportioned and the front seats feel spacious, with decent elbow room and a good range of seat adjustment for both tall and short drivers.
Head to the rear and the slightly lower roofline of the sedan compared to the hatch is the only real difference.
Getting in and out is still a breeze, but taller rear seat travellers will notice the missing millimetres of rear headroom. No such complaints for legroom however, which, although not the largest in the class, doesn’t feel in any way lacking.
Overall the dash isn’t Kia’s freshest, and although the designers have tried to be different, there’s a lot of small trim pieces and gaps (albeit tight ones) that work against the Cerato.
Head to the rear and the boot hides 482 litres of luggage space, that’s 97 litres more than the hatch. Of course with the seats down the hatch is the more versatile option, but the sedan still provides a 60:40 split rear seat with release handles in the boot.
ON THE ROAD
Engine: 112kW/192Nm 2.0 litre naturally aspirated petrol four-cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated front, solid rear
Steering: Electrically assisted power steering, turning circle: 10.6m
Towing capacity: 1100kg braked, 610kg unbraked
Where the 2015 Cerato offered a step-up in engine size and power for the Si grade and above, that upgrade has been nixed for the 2016 facelift model.
The Si model now comes with the same 2.0 litre engine as the rest of the range, with 112kW of power and 192Nm of torque.
It’s a decent little engine, so no real need to lament the passing of the more powerful direct-injected engine it replaces, and works harmoniously with Kia’s six-speed automatic transmission.
It’s also tuned to be very eager pulling away from a standstill; meaning that away from traffic lights, the Cerato surprised with its sling-shot feel.
For ducking in and out of city streets the Cerato feels well judged, light, agile, and not too bulky to get around in.
Take it away for the weekend and it’s a decent little package, but the alertness in town isn’t as noticeable out on the open road. But, while no fireball, it won't leave you exposed too long in the wrong lane when overtaking.
Thanks to a more solidly enclosed boot, the Cerato sedan is just a shade quieter than the hatch, but neither one is what you’d call noisy to begin with.
As with other members of the Kia range, the Cerato has been given an Australian-specific suspension tune, designed to cope with everything local conditions can throw at a car.
At speed the Cerato sits nicely on the road, and deals with most surface imperfections gallantly. Drop it into a suburban setting though and the Cerato feels just a wee bit bouncy with one person on board, but more settled with one or two passengers.
The Cerato Si also rolls on 16-inch alloy wheels. They look alright but the real gain (over a larger rim with slimmer tyre sidewalls) is quieter and more compliant running, and less jarring over road imperfections.
Steering is nice and light to help with close-quarters moves, and, by tapping the drive mode switch next to the gear lever Eco, Normal, or Sport mode can be selected to alter transmission, and steering responsiveness.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - the Cerato scored 35.51 out of 37 possible points when tested in 2013.
Safety features: Six airbags (dual front, front side, and curtain), ABS brakes with brake assist, hill start assist, electronic stability and traction control, 2x rear ISOFIX child seat mounts, and front seatbelt pretensioners.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Small sedans might not be the biggest seller in Australia, but globally they’re big business, and that shows in the quality of some of the offerings.
The Toyota Corolla sedan sits on a longer wheelbase than its hatch equivalent, giving it a spacious rear seat. It might be a little plain to look at, but it’s a very decent package. The Hyundai Elantra is a newer product and it shows, particularly on the inside thanks to a handsomely styled cabin.
Mazda has a firm favourite with its Mazda3 range, combining fun-to-drive handling, impressive safety technology, and styling that most people seem to like. The Skoda Octavia provides a punchy turbo engine, quality feeling interior, and quick-shifting DSG transmission adding a neat point of difference to the small sedan class.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Nope, couldn’t find it. That 'thing' that makes a hatch better than a sedan doesn’t really exist.
You might be swayed by the practicality of being able to stuff more things into the rear of a five-door, particularly with the seats down, but those kinds of situations are more likely to be occasional for most owners.
In the case of the Kia Cerato, the four-door is just as easy to live with, just as practical, just as straightforward, and just as simple to own, operate, and occupy as the five-door hatch so beloved by Australians.
That opens up a prime opportunity for a frank discussion with your local dealer. You'll be able to drive a hard bargain - they'll be keen to move sedan stock - and keep some good dollars in your pocket, if you play your cards right.