|Naza Kia today unveiled the all-new Kia Cerato as the worthy replacement of the immensely popular Kia Forte. The Cerato nameplate, which superseded the previous Spectra, isn’t new as it has been utilized in several International markets. Codenamed internally as YD, the Kia K3 Cerato Forte first debut in July last year in Korea, Kia’s home country.|
The new Kia Cerato has a recognizable shape that shares similarities with the current Hyundai Elantra, and one could easily mistake the Cerato for its sister the Elantra when viewed directly from the side at a glance. However, take a closer look at its sharp, masculine contours and you will instantly be able to see that this is a different car altogether. Its feline eyes rake menacingly up the sides of the front fenders, with the rear combination lights doing the same, wrapping itself a good 6 inches around the rear fenders for maximum visibility. Such design cues are not without merit, especially the rear lights, which are very useful when backing out of a parking lot where an oncoming driver can easily spot this car reversing out, thanks also to its unique reflected LED light bars built into the rear lights for aesthetic appeal and maximum visibility.
Up front, the tiger face that first debut on the Kia Optima K5 also makes an appearance on the new Cerato, albeit not as fierce looking as its large sedan sibling. The front grille is slightly muted, relative to the large headlights that are more than likely to draw onlookers’ attention above anything else as far as the fascia is concerned. A large Kia emblem is emblazoned boldly on the nose of the Cerato and also on the boot.
Quite notably, Kia has risen from the ranks of a has-been run-of-the-mill, bread and butter mass car producer, to a contemporary car maker with lots to offer the ordinary Joe who wants something more than mere status quo. Kia is one of the first of many manufacturers to provide a host of next-generation amenities and conveniences in vehicles such as; smart keyless entry, push start ignition, Bluetooth connectivity, reverse camera built into its rear view mirror, to name a few.
Having upped the ante in 2011, the only way forward is up. For that, the new Cerato in both 1.6 and 2.0 variants are loaded with many new exciting features that are rarely seen in the C-segment category in this country. For starters, let us take a look at the common features shared by both variants. Daylight Running Lights (DRL) take pride of place on top of the headlight cluster, while fog lamps are available in both variants. As far as visibility is concerned, Kia made sure to cover both variants, well done. Moving on to its side, stylish LED repeaters adorn the ergonomically shaped self-folding electric wing mirrors. Said wing mirrors also incorporate puddle lights to illuminate the entry way into the car. The front door handles are also illuminated so you won’t have trouble fiddling about trying to locate the handles on a dark night. These two courtesy lighting systems operate the moment they sense that you are nearby (hint: smart key). Both variants are also fitted with the same sporty 17” five-spoke alloy wheels and shod with 215/45/17 low profile Nexen CP643a tyres which can also be found on its direct sibling the Optima K5 (225/45/18).
Inside, both cars come with a stylish meter cluster complete with a 4.2” touch screen color TFT monitor that also acts as a TV screen for the reverse camera. Both variants also feature Dual-zone air-conditioning system with Cluster Ionizer, also valid in the smaller Kia Rio. The power steering system relies on Kia’s MDPS (Motor Driven Power Steering) which relieves the engine of an extra load, translating to better power to the wheels. A new feature is the user-adjustable steering mode – Comfort, Normal and Sport – for different driving conditions. Both variants also now come with audio controls, cruise control and Bluetooth functions on the steering wheel. The MFD (multi-function display) is controlled via the steering wheel, so you don’t have to fiddle about when wanting to reset the trip meter or view other information.
This next feature is sure to set the Cerato apart from others in its segment; 10-way electric driver’s seat with 2 memory settings! It used to be something found only in premium D-segment rides, but here it is in the Cerato (both variants). One other thing about Kia that sets them apart from others is their attention to little details, like the retractable sun visor extensions for one, and now in the Cerato a little slot on the sun visor (driver’s side) for which to slot in your parking ticket or Touch n Go card. Related amenities inside the new Cerato include the ventilated driver’s leather-clad seat and rear air-conditioning vents.
Moving on to the extras enjoyed by 2.0 buyers. Paying a premium for the range topper buys you self-leveling Xenon (HID) headlamps, an electric sunroof, a comprehensive supervision cluster, ventilated driver’s seat and a powerful Nu engine (pun). That, and a little “2.0” badge at the back, beneath the Cerato logo to tell the world you paid a premium for your ride. The Kia Forte 1.6 SX was the best seller in Kia’s portfolio in the past, so they are hoping for a repeat performance with the new Cerato; thus the company’s decision to only market two variants, both highly-spec versions. With so much on offer with attractive pricing, chances of a repeat performance are high.
Riding on the new platform, the new Cerato feels just as solid as the car it is replacing. A similar suspension setup (Macpherson struts in front and torsion beam behind) means no real surprises in terms of handling and grip. The engine in the 1.6-liter variant is a slightly updated version of the tried and tested Gamma engine from the Forte 1.6. This time round, it employs Dual-CVVT (intake and exhaust) while the older (single) CVVT system governs the intake side only. The older 1.6 Gamma engine had 126PS @ 6,300rpm and 156Nm @ 4,200rpm, while the newer D-CVVT version in the Cerato puts out 130PS @ 6,000rpm and 157Nm @ 4,850rpm. This, coupled with electric power steering and a lighter kerb weight of the new platform, translates to a more responsive and exemplary ride.
However, the less powerful of the duo tended to slightly struggle and hunt for gearing at steep inclines compared to its higher grade sibling. The new 2.0 Nu engine replaces the older Theta II CVVT block in the outgoing Forte. Pushing output further, the Nu engine manages to extract 161PS @ 6,500rpm and 194Nm of torque @ 4,800rpm. Compare this to the Theta II (156PS @ 6,200rpm and 194Nm @ 4,300rpm) there’s not much changes on paper, but on the road the car does feel slightly stronger than the previous variant. During the recent Kia Cerato media preview drive, the writer did feedback that the new Cerato still has the infamous tyre roar reminiscent of the Forte. The other thing was the slight wind noise in the cabin at higher speeds.
The Cerato, being an FF variant, did incur very slight understeers during fast corners, however the car could be easily dealt with by easing off the throttle, thanks to an acceptable suspension setup (although the rear still uses a torsion beam), the VSM (vehicle stability management) and a bunch of driver assistance. The VSM acts to commandeer the car’s torque transfer to the driven wheels assisted by independent wheel ABS when the driver is about to lose control. And thanks to a tighten rear end, the Cerato did not lose traction even while the writer did a quicker downhill drive. Stopping power was more than adequate with two full-sized adults on board. In all, the Cerato fulfilled its motoring duties with dignity and nary a whimper.
If you’re in the market for a C-segment sedan, and you have yet to experience a Kia, now is a good time to put the new Cerato on your list of test drives. Naza Kia M’sia earlier announced the new Kia Cerato prices at RM99,888.00 for the 1.6l and RM118,888.00 for the 2.0l. Five body colors are valid; Bright Silver, Clear White, Glittering Metal, Golden Beat and Temptation Red. All prices inclusive of insurance and a standard 5-year warranty.
2013 Kia Cerato images