Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, a new Kia Cerato isn’t far away. How long it will take the new model to reach us here in the colony though is not yet clear. If you are the sort of person that desires that latest and greatest, the runout Cerato probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you’re a bargain hunter, read on.
On test here is the 2018 Kia Cerato Sport+ sedan, this is best described as the Cerato’s final show of a farewell tour. At present, it’s the flagship of what remains of the current generation Cerato. It’s priced at $27,290 plus on-roads, but this figure can be confidently ignored – Kia is doing sharp drive-away pricing to keep the Cerato ticking over while it awaits fresh metal.
In Sport+ guise, the Cerato is reasonably well appointed with 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, keyless entry with push-button start, electrochromic auto-dimming rear-view mirror, cooled glovebox and a favourite of ours, electric driver's lumbar support are all standard.
There is a comprehensive 7.0-inch infotainment system that packs satellite navigation along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. To date, big-selling rivals from Toyota and Mazda are yet to embrace smartphone mirroring technology, giving the Cerato a slight advantage when appealing to tech-savvy youngsters.
Kia has fallen into the trap of using a Sport designation despite the Cerato not being a sporty car. Don’t be fooled by the paddle shifters that rest behind the steering wheel, the Cerato Sport+ is no sportier than the entry-level version of the car.
All the key ingredients are the same across the Cerato range, the engine, transmission, suspension and steering set-up are identical.
What weakens the Cerato Sport+’s value proposition is the absence of the latest safety equipment. The Cerato has a detailed vehicle stability package and the obligatory airbags required to secure a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, however, it lacks things like autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and blind spot monitoring.
For a car enjoying its dotage, the Cerato still looks sharp enough to put bums on seats. In the right colour with the two-tone alloys, it gives off an upmarket vibe.
As for the interior, Kia has done well to disguise the Cerato’s age. Like the outside, it remains competitive largely because of the infotainment system and material choices. The leather trim looks and feels better than one would expect in the class.
From some angles the interior layout looks too busy, there are lots of buttons on the steering wheel and the controls for the climate and infotainment functions are packed close together.
It’s a roomy cabin, the 2700mm wheelbase is put to good use, those in the back enjoy plenty of legroom. Taller rear passengers will need to contend with the sloping roofline. The Cerato Sport+ gets rear air vents which is something of a rarity in the class. There are plenty of newer models like the Astra that are yet to run pipes to the back.
The drivetrain does a commendable job of moving the Cerato around. The naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine knocks out a respectable 112kW and 192Nm. There isn’t as much low down poke as some of the turbo units found in rival cars.
An amenable six-speed automatic helps make the most of the engine’s outputs. It’s a smooth unit, especially in the low gears.
The Cerato will most likely spend its time cruising around town where it will be perfectly at home. It’s quick enough when the light turns green and there’s a high level of mechanical refinement at city speeds.
Surprisingly, it’s a similar story out on the highway, even at 110 clicks the wind and road noise is fairly tame.
Kia is a bit of a trendsetter when it comes to ride quality, the local suspension tune irons out Victoria’s country roads without missing a beat.
It’s a similar story with the steering, at city speeds it’s not too light and doesn’t feel artificial, there’s some life here for interested drivers.
When confronted with a corner or two, the Cerato offers a rare splash of sportiness, it’s far more stable than we expected. Some extra kilowatts are needed to take full advantage of the car’s cornering talent.
We covered 540 kilometres during our test week which returned an average consumption figure of 8.3L/100km. This is close to the figure we achieved when testing the larger Optima GT meaning there are more efficient choices. Highway stints will see a return in the low sixes.
Kia has the best ownership package of any car brand in Australia – fact! Kia stumps up a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, seven years of roadside assistance, along with seven years of capped price servicing, which can be transferred to subsequent owners.
Rivals aren’t keen to take the battle up to Kia when it comes to warranty coverage, Holden continues to flirt with the idea, but a long-term commitment is yet to be presented.
Maintenance intervals are set at 12 months/15,000km. Under the capped price service program costs average out to $350 a visit.
If you fancy a Cerato, now is the time to secure a deal. With the car in run out the pencil has been sharpened and negotiating a sharp price won't be a hard task. The run-out pricing and stellar ownership package makes the Cerato a worthwhile purchase and helps mask the missing safety kit. As for the Sport+ variant, is it worth an additional $5000 over the S model? Probably not, it’s a lot of money for leather trim and better infotainment meaning the entry-model is the one to chase.
2018 Kia Cerato Sport+ Specifications
Price from $27,290 plus on-road costs Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol Power 112kW @ 6200rpm Torque 192Nm @ 4000rpm Transmission six-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 7.2L/100km Tank Capacity 50L Length 4560mm Width 1780mm Height 1435mm Wheelbase 2700mm Turning Circle 10.6m Tare Weight 1301kg Service Intervals 12 months/15,000km Warranty seven year/unlimited kilometre