2019 Kia Cerato Sport+ Review
Isaac Bober’s 2019 Kia Cerato Sport+ Review with price, specs, performance, ride and handling, ownership, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Updated Cerato gets some exterior and interior tweaks and a stack of features to make it one of the best-value cars on the market. In any segment.
2019 Kia Cerato Sport+ Specifications
Price $26,190 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; 7.8L/100km on test
Updated in June, the Kia Cerato copped quite a few tweaks to the inside and out as well as the tweaking of the model line-up. The S remains as the entry-level but the Si and SLi were dumped in favour of Sport and Sport+, which we’re testing here.
What’s the price and what’s in the range?
The entry-level Kia Cerato S sells from $19,990 drive away and is well equipped, 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, 6-way driver seat adjustment, cruise control, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition, 6-speaker DAB digital radio with Bluetooth connectivity, manual air-conditioning and power windows with driver auto-down.
Next in line, the Sport, sells from $23,690 drive away and adds (to the S) 17-inch alloys, satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic and 10 years Mapcare, premium steering wheel and shift knob, aero blade wipers and sport-patterned cloth-trim seats.
Our test car, the Sport+, sells from $26,190 drive away and gets AEB Fusion II (pedestrian and cyclist recognition), advanced smart cruise control, LED daytime running lights, smart key and push button start, leather trim seat, electric folding door mirrors with automatic folding function, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning and rear air vents.
Kia describes the design of the Cerato as being ‘like the Stinger’ and, sure, there are similar elements, but what it really looks like is Kia’s version of the Hyundai Elantra, but that’s not damning it with faint praise. The Cerato looks sporty with its new-look front end while the quad LED headlights on the Sport+ give it a unique look. As for what you think of the rest of the design, well, I leave that for you to ruminate on.
The Cerato runs the same wheelbase as the old car but the body is longer at the front by 80mm and 60mm at the rear (4640mm). It’s 5mm taller at 1440mm and it measures 1800mm wide.
Cerato is available in nine colours, include three all-new additions to the palette. There is a Clear White and eight premium colours ($520 extra-cost option), which are Snow White Pearl (the colour for our test car), Silky Silver, Platinum Graphite, Gravity Blue, Aurora Black Pearl and the three new colours: Steel Grey, Horizon Blue and Runway Red.
What’s the interior and practicality like?
On the inside, the new Cerato feels a lot more modern than the old car with a new ‘floating’ dashboard and a greater use of soft-touch and/or more premium plastics. The layout of the dash is new (and sits 68mm higher than it did in the old car) but it follows in the well-worn path of other recent Kia releases. And, while some might argue that Kia needs to make a bigger step forward with its interior designs, you can’t argue against the practicality of the layout and how quickly you acclimatise to it.
While the wheelbase is identical, Kia’s designers managed to eke out a little extra room here and there in the cabin. There’s a little more headroom in the front and back, a touch more legroom in the front and more shoulder room in the back. For a small car, the Cerato feels like a car in the class above, there’s acres of room in both the front and the back of the thing, and the legroom for those in the back seat is particularly impressive.
That said, it’s only a four-seater with the middle seat in the back being a perch rather than a shaped seat. Still, in a pinch you’d use it. The back rest of the middle seat folds down to form an armrest with two cupholders, and while there are directional rear air vents there are no charging outlets for the back. There’s a net pocket on the back of the passenger-side front seat. Both front seat backs are hard plastic to resist scratching and scuffing from feet. There are ISOFIX fittings on the two outboard seats and top tether anchors mounted on the parcel shelf.
The front seats look a little flat but they’re not, and they offer good side and base support; my only gripe is that the under-thigh support could be a little better for those with longer legs like me but I’m nit-picking. There’s good vision out of the Cerato and even though the dashboard has been raised it’s simply made things like the infotainment screen and climate controls easier to see while you’re on the move rather than obscuring forwards vision.
The boot is a decent size at 502 litres. The rear seats are 60:40 split fold and can be lowered from the boot via two small levers. There is a significant lip when the seats are folded but, hey, it’s only likely to be used occasionally and so it’s fine. The load lip is 67cm and the boot opening is more than one metre.
What are the controls and infotainment like?
In typical Kia fashion the dashboard is simple and cleanly designed offering ease of use with next to no time needed to familiarise yourself with what does what. All the buttons and dials are within easy reach of the driver and are clearly marked making them easy to use on the move.
The dashboard is dominated by the 8.0-inch infotainment screen which is touch sensitive and offers hard shortcut keys just beneath it. There’s native sat-nav with live traffic updates and Kia offers 10-years-worth of updates if you service your vehicle through its dealer network. There’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The system offers a fair degree of customisation around traffic notifications with the ability to have the system remind you of speed limit changes, school zones, static traffic cameras, and so on.
What’s the performance like?
There’s only engine available now, in the coming months the Cerato GT will arrive with the same set-up as the Hyundai Elantra SR, and this is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol making 112kW at 6200rpm and 192Nm of torque at 4000rpm, this is mated to a six-speed automatic. Only the entry-level S can be had with a six-speed manual. Fuel consumption is a claimed combined 7.4L/100km and in our week with the Cerato Sport+ we got close to that at 7.8L/100km.
On paper the engine doesn’t seem overly endowed with grunt but from behind the wheel it feels perky enough whether you’re travelling one-up or the whole family is on-board. The Cerato keeps up with traffic easily and there’s good transmission response to the throttle, meaning it’ll drop down a gear as quick as a wink.
Pushing the thing hard, as I did out on sections of the Practical Motoring road loop and the engine note isn’t overly pleasant becoming a little harsh as you push it through the rev range, but it’s just noise, and the engine will keep pulling through to 6000-plus rpm.
What’s it like on the road?
The Cerato Sport+ feels firm but the 17-inch alloys could have something to do with that. However, note I said firm and not hard…there’s a distinct difference and the Cerato Sport+ has been well tuned by Kia’s local ride and handling team to offer an impressive ride across a range of roads. The Practical Motoring road loop takes in highway, country backroads and dirt roads and some of the bitumen sections are pockmarked from constant patching; you tend to hear the suspension rather than feel it.
Through corners the Cerato sits nice and flat and while it’s not quite in the same league as the more sporting Elantra SR, it demonstrates a real keenness for cornering. And the steering, while lacking in feel, is well weighted and consistent in its action making this thing more enjoyable than you might expect when the corners start flying.
There’s good grip through the snout and you’d have to have fists of ham and fingers of butter to get the front-end to break traction in the dry. That said, the tyres do make a bit of noise away from smooth bitumen and once you’re travelling at 100km/h there’s a fair amount of wind noise from around the wing mirrors.
The pedals are nice and progressive making it a cinch to modulate the Cerato’s speed whether you’re crawling in traffic or just trying to wash off speed before diving into a corner. In all, the Cerato Sport+ is more fun than I was expecting and its ride and handling improves as speed builds.
Does it have a spare?
Yes, a temporary space saver which is limited to just 80km/h.
Can you tow with it?
Kia suggests a maximum braked towing capacity of 1100kg but the towball download is just 75kg, so, I think you’d be safer treating its unbraked capacity (610kg) as its maximum towing capacity.
What about ownership?
Kia continues to lead the market with its seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and offers capped price servicing for those seven years with the price, per service, ranging from $266 to $613. The service schedule is 12 months or 15,000km.
What about safety?
ANCAP hasn’t announced a rating for the latest Cerato, but both previous generations received a five-star rating. The Cerato gets an impressive active safety suite, including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keep assist, front and rear parking sensors as well as reversing camera, speed-sensing door locks, dusk-sensing lights, LED daytime running lights, hill start assist and more. Oddly, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring are an extra-cost option. It also offers 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.