Kia Cerato 1.6 is sluggish but classy

By Brendan Seery Time of article published May 6, 2014

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Kia Cerato hatch 1.6 EX

Johannesburg - Fuel economy claims by car makers are about as reliable as politicians’ promises. If you own a car and don’t know that by now, then good luck…

But there’s another area in which particularly the Asian brands take liberties – and that’s with power. Perhaps that harks back to the days when US and Japanese cars were measured to different standards as far as horsepower was concerned. And when cynical motoring hacks often wrote about undernourished Oriental ponies.

These days, I often suspect that kW (as in kilowatts) actually stands for “Korean Watts” when it comes to the quoted power outputs of vehicles from Korea. They almost invariably don’t seem to gel with the reality of driving the car.


The latest reminder of this came as a bit of a shock to me. The previous week I had driven my 1989 Jetta, with its anaemic, carburettor-fed motor of 70kW up a hill in Pretoria North at a fair lick, blasting up in fourth gear. When I tried the same route in a new Kia Cerato Hatch 1.6, I had to gear down … from 6th, to 5th, to 4th and finally to third, before I was forced to move over to the left-hand lane – because a VW was on my tail and getting impatient.

The Cerato has an alleged 95kW. I know it is heavier (cars are all porkier these days and safer for it) but it also has 25kW and 25 years on my Jetta…

That was the disappointing side of the test with the Cerato Hatch, which is otherwise very likeable, easy-to-drive and, most importantly, a quality vehicle.

LIke its sedan sibling, the Cerato is a great showcase for Kia’s striking new design philosophy. There is no denying that the Korean manufacturer is turning out some of the most attractive cars on our roads these days. Personally, I prefer the more balanced wedge-type shape of the sedan, but many people are taken by the more adventurous looks of the five-door version.


While the 1.6 EX version we drove doesn’t have the optional extras like its more expensive 1.6 and 2.0 litre stablemates have (like reversing camera and fancy infotainment centre and screen), it still is very well equipped – with six airbags, aircon, tilt and height-adjustable driver’s seat and steering wheel controls for things like the sound system.


All Ceratos – all Kias in fact – are now premium vehicles, and I dare anyone to challenge me on that. Materials inside the cabin are top quality and fit and finish is what you expect in cars from more expensive segments in the market. Driving position is also excellent.

The driving experience is a mixed bag: the car doesn’t handle too badly, although it is not as sharp as some rivals, but it rides very well and is a soothing place in which to spend time.

If you’re an enthusiastic driver, then you’ll be disappointed by the power delivery in the 1.6. Then again, an enthusiastic driver is more likely to consider the 118kW 2.0 litre variant – and the person who buys the 1.6 is not going to notice anything amiss.

The other negative is – as my Kia-driving brother-in-law keeps pointing out – that Kia is no longer a cheap, or let’s rather say affordable, brand. It has built a reputation for quality and reliability and now adding to that design flare, it clearly aims to cash in. So there are more competitors than there used to be.

But, look around you: Kia is giving the South African car market the cars it wants. -Saturday Star


Kia Cerato hatch 1.6 EX

Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol

Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Power: 95kW @ 6300rpm

Torque: 157Nm @ 4850rpm

0-100km/h (claimed): 10.1 seconds

Top speed (claimed): 200km/h

Price: R237 995

Warranty: Five-year/150 000km

Service plan: Five-year/90 000km


In the city, you’ll get between 7 and 8 litres per 100km, but on the open road at the national speed limit, you will get about 5.5l/100km – excellent economy for a petrol-engined car.


Chevrolet Cruze 5dr 1.6 LS (86kW/155Nm) - R230 900

Ford Focus 5dr 1.6 Ambiente (92kW/159Nm) - R233 300

Hyundai i30 1.6 Premium (95kW/157Nm) - R259 900

Opel Astra 5dr 1.6 Essentia (85kW/155Nm) - R251 000

Renault Megane 1.6 Expression (81kW/151Nm) - R224 900

Toyota Auris 1.6 Xi (97kW/160Nm) - R236 900

VW Golf 1.2 TSI Trendline (77kW/175Nm) - R258 800

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