The Kia Cerato has become a familiar sight on South Africa roads. From the sedan to the popular hatch and even the Koup, this model has offered no frills motoring to the public since 2004. I recently had a chance to drive the updated version through Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The Korean-built third generation Cerato has been with us since 2013 and as is customary within the automotive realm, the vehicle has received a few upgrades to both modernise and help it better compete within its segment, while simultaneously implementing changes as a response to customer feedback.
In terms of exterior changes, keen observers will note that all models get a black or gloss black trim for the so called ‘tiger-nose’ grille, while there are also new headlamps, a new front bumper and foglights in addition to a reshaped bonnet. The sedan gets new rear bumper and taillight design as well as new alloy wheels.
Inside, there have also been changes with an emphasis on a more premium look and feel. There are new materials used on the dashboard, door trims, centre fascia and console hood with a silver and piano black theme throughout the cabin.
Other significant changes
For those who opt for the automatic version, there is now a Drive Mode Select (DMS) system with Normal, Sport and Comfort driving modes which changes steering feel. These front-wheel drive models are still available with the same range of 1.6 and 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engines, albeit with more emphasis placed on the smaller motor as per market demand.
As such, the 1.6 produces 95 kW while the 2.0 has 118 kW on tap. Model-wise, the 1.6 is available in base EX trim with the option of hatch or sedan bodystyles, as well as a manual or automatic gearbox, while the previous 2.0 SX makes way for a 1.6 SX with the sedan being auto only and the hatch equipped exclusively with the manual gearbox.
Only available in EX trim now, the 2.0 mirrors its 1.6 equivalent with the option of a sedan or hatch body, and a manual or automatic gearbox.
What does the badge mean?
If you’re like me, the words EX and SX mean nothing. So I’ll try and sum up the range like so; the 1.6 EX is more basic with features such as air-conditioning, automatic light control, Bluetooth connectivity / MP3 / iPod / USB, steering wheel-mounted controls for audio and cruise control, front and rear electric windows and LED daytime running lights. The 2.0 SX get the same equipment but adds an upgraded instrument cluster and leather upholstery.
The range-topping 1.6 SX, in addition to the features on the EX, gets HID xenon headlamps, reverse camera, smart key with stop / start button, a smart welcome lighting system, front and rear park distance control, a TFT LCD cluster and automatic dual-zone air-conditioning.
The third generation Cerato has always been a solid product and the facelift builds upon that principle. The ride quality and sound-proofing is commendable on freeways; the engines have reasonable fuel returns and the overall quality in terms of fit and finish is what one expects from this segment. It won’t exactly set your pants on fire, but it will very likely stand the test of time and get you where you need to be efficiently and in reasonable comfort.
Warranty and service
All Cerato models come standard with a five-year / unlimited kilometre warranty, five-year / unlimited kilometres roadside assistance as well as a five-year / 90 000 km service plan.
Cerato 1.6 EX manual (hatch & sedan) R299 995
Cerato 1.6 EX automatic (hatch and sedan) R312 995
Cerato 2.0 EX manual (hatch & sedan) R340 995
Cerato 2.0 EX automatic (hatch & Ssedan) R353 995
Cerato 1.6 SX manual (hatch) R344 995
Cerato 1.6 SX automatic (sedan) R357 995
Article written by Sean Nurse