Car Reviews

2019 Kia Cerato S Review

Isaac Bober’s 2019 Kia Cerato S Review with price, specs, performance, ride and handling, ownership, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: Entry-level Kia Cerato S can be had from $19,990 drive away and it offers a lot of car for the coin.

2019 Kia Cerato S Specifications

Price $21,490 drive away Warranty seven-years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety N/A Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol Power 112kW at 6200rpm Torque 192Nm at 4000rpm Transmission six-speed automatic Drive front-wheel drive Dimensions 4640mm long, 1800mm wide, 1440mm high, 2700mm wheelbase Turning Circle 10.6m Boot Space from 502L Seats Five Weight 1320kg Towing 1100kg maximum braked; 75kg towball download Spare Temporary space saver Fuel Tank 50L Thirst 7.4L/100km claimed combined; 7.6L/100km as tested

The Cerato range was renewed earlier this year and went on-sale here in June with Kia dropping its Si and SLi model names in favour of Sport and Sport+. The S we’re testing here remains the entry to the range.

What’s the price and what do you get?

The entry-level Kia Cerato S sells from $19,990 drive away and is well equipped indeed, offering Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Driver Attention Alert Warning, front and rear parking sensors, 16-inch steel wheels, Drive Mode Select, six airbags, tyre pressure monitor, speed limiter, six-way driver seat adjustment, cruise control, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition (there’s no native sat-nav), six-speaker DAB digital radio with Bluetooth connectivity, single-zone air-conditioning and power windows with driver auto-down.

2019 Kia Cerato S Review

Cerato is available in nine colours, include three all-new additions to the palette – Steel Grey, Horizon Blue and Runway Red. There is a Clear White and eight premium colours ($520 extra-cost option), which are Snow White Pearl, Silky Silver, Platinum Graphite, Gravity Blue, Aurora Black Pearl.

The new Cerato offers the same wheelbase as the car it replaces but the body is longer and slightly taller while the width remains the same. The body length increase allowed Kia to fit the latest version of its snout and to make the thing look a bit like a baby Stinger. Sort of.

What’s the interior and practicality like?

The interior of the new Cerato is a much nicer place to be than the old car with a new floating-style dashboard that gives a sense of width to the cabin; it’s also been raised slightly for improved vision of the controls. The materials used all feel good quality and the fit and finish is excellent.

Whether you’re sat in the front or the back of the Cerato the thing feels big. In the front, the seats are wide but with enough support for those driving longer distances. And, in the back, there’s acres of leg and knee room and both good head and shoulder room. The middle seat is still more of a perch than a seat but the design of the middle pew is flatter and broader than you normally find in small cars and so can be used by an adult in a pinch. There’s loads of footroom to share on either side of this position. Still, I’d refer to this thing as a four-seater.

2019 Kia Cerato S Review

Unlike other models in the range, there are no rear air vents or charging points, but those in the back do still get a fold down armrest with cup holders. And there are ISOFIX mounts on the two outboard seats.

2019 Kia Cerato S Review

The boot offers 502 litres of storage space which is big for the class; the lack of a manual release on the boot (keyfob only) is frustrating. The rear seats are 60:40 split fold and can be dropped to increase storage space. The load lip is around 67cm off the ground making it easy to load and unload; indeed, the wide-mouthed opening of the boot makes is a practical space. There’s a space saver spare beneath the boot floor.

2019 Kia Cerato S Review

What are the controls and infotainment like?

The 8.0-inch infotainment screen dominates the clean and well laid out dash. All the buttons are clearly marked and within easy reach of the driver. And the big shortcut buttons make deep diving into the touchscreen simple.

2019 Kia Cerato S Review

There’s no native sat-nav but with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto I’d suggest you won’t miss it. Connecting your phone is super simple and only takes a few seconds and the voice control functionality works well. Call quality, whether you’re using Apple or Android or Bluetooth connectivity is crystal clear according to those I called to test it out.

Kia has raised the dashboard slightly and this not only improves legroom for those in the front but it also puts the key controls, like the infotainment and climate control (single-zone in this Cerato S) into the driver’s eye-line but without obscuring forwards vision while driving.

What’s the performance like?

We covered this off in our review of the Cerato Sport+ but let’s recap. Until the Cerato GT arrives in January next year, there’s only one engine in one state of tune available for the Cerato and that is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol making 112kW at 6200rpm and 192Nm of torque at 4000rpm. While you can get the S with a six-speed manual, our test car was fitted with a six-speed automatic. Fuel consumption is a claimed combined 7.4L/100km.

2019 Kia Cerato S Review

While, on-paper, it doesn’t seem overly endowed with grunt, the engine in the Cerato is more than up to the job of powering the 1320kg car. The six-speed automatic does a good job of keeping the engine in its sweet spot without trying to plump for top gear all the time. The transmission responds well to the throttle and whether you’ve got the family on-board or it’s just you, the Cerato always feels peppier than its paper numbers suggest. Probably my only gripe is that the engine can be a little noisy in the cabin when revving at low speeds; it settles once you get to an even speed.

What’s it like on the road?

The Cerato cops an Australian tweaked ride, handling and steering package and while the way the entry-level S moves through corners and controls it bodyweight under brakes is just about identical to the Cerato Sport+ we tested, there is a subtle difference between the two. And this is mainly down to the wheels. See, the Sport+ rides on 17-inch alloys and feels firm across coarse surfaces and can thump across expansion joints on the highway or broken patches of road. It won’t upset the ride mind, it’s just a little firm through the backside.

2019 Kia Cerato S Review

The entry-level S, on the other hand, sits on 16-inch steel wheels and so gets a taller tyre and this makes a big difference to the ride comfort. There’s more compliance because of the meatier tyre and for most people that’s what they’ll be looking for from a car like this; comfort rather than corner carving. The steering is feel-free but that won’t phase most buyers. The action is light but consistent in its action and entirely in-step with this type of vehicle.

2019 Kia Cerato S Review

Does it have a spare?

Yes. A temporary space beneath the boot floor which is limited to just 80km/h when fitted.

Can you tow with it?

Kia says the Cerato will tow 1100kg but with a towball download of just 75kg we’d suggest towing up to the thing’s unbraked towing capacity of 610kg.

What about ownership?

Kia offers one of the best warranties in the business with its seven-year, unlimited kilometre set-ups. Capped price servicing costs run from $266 to $613 with servicing schedules of 12 months or 15,000km.

What about safety?

ANCAP hasn’t said whether the new car will carry over the old one’s five-star rating but given its beefed-up safety credentials you would expect it to. As standard, there’s the usual traction and stability controls, impact-sensing auto door unlocking, airbags with curtains covering the back seats, and front and rear side door impact beams. In terms of active safety, the Cerato S offers forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera with dynamic guide lines driver attention alert, lane keep assist, and a tyre pressure monitor.

Find the best demonstrator car deals for Practical Motoring readers around Australia on our Live Deals website. 

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the controls and infotainment?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?
Practical Motoring Says: The Kia Cerato S was updated in June this year and Kia’s bean counters have sharpened their pencils with the thing on-sale from $19,990 driveaway (manual variant). Given the features it comes standard with this is impressive indeed. The Cerato S looks good, rides better on 16in wheels than it does on the 18s you get higher up the tree and is roomier inside than just about any other vehicle in the segment.

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober