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Kia Cerato 2018 hatchback revealed

While Kia Australia is planning a June launch for its restyled, Stinger-cloned Cerato sedan, potential buyers will have to wait until the fourth quarter to purchase the new hatchback version of the same nameplate.

Kia Australia is expected to launch the Cerato hatch towards the end of the year and unlike the sedan, this is likely to include a GT variant.

The GT has a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder with a dual-clutch transmission and an independent rear suspension - the same specs as the Hyundai SR series in the Elantra and i30, and similar to the short-lived Australian-spec pro-cee’d GT.

The new Cerato range remains isolated from the similar styling and brand positioning of the European-made Cee’d and pro_cee’d cars. The Cee’d – this month, thankfully, renamed Ceed without the apostrophe – has a different platform, suspension and drivetrain to the Cerato.

The Cerato hatch will also be built in Korea as Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth said it has now stopped importing models from its Slovakian factory.

“There is no similarity to the Ceed and Cerato - they are different cars on different platforms,” he said.

Kia Australia will take the Cerato sedan – otherwise known as the Forte in other markets - as shown at the Detroit motor show in January, with a Korean build and carry-over drivetrain.

But while Australia will share the body and cabin with its Mexican-built counterpart bound for the US market, it will miss out on Kia’s 'Innovative Variable Transmission' (IVT) drivetrain that is exclusive for North American cars.

IVT is a modified continuously variable transmission (CVT) system developed by Kia and claims to overcome some CVT drawbacks such as the elastic-band feel, flaring engine revs and hesitancy.

While the North American market will get a 2.0-litre engine with an Atkinson cycle to reduce fuel consumption, the local-spec Cerato sedan will carry over the 112kW/192Nm 2.0-litre engine and six-speed manual gearbox, with the optional six-speed automatic transmission.

The US-destined engine with IVT has a claimed fuel consumption figure of 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle test.

European markets can select from a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol and 1.6-litre turbo-diesel, but neither will be offered in Australia.

The Cerato sedan will arrive in a bigger bodyshell made of 54 per cent advanced high-strength steel that is 81.3mm longer than the outgoing model, now 4640mm for additional cabin and boot space.

The body is also stiffer and an enhanced electric power steering system is claimed to return more road feel to the driver.

Like the Stinger, the new sedan’s design extends the bonnet length and means the windscreen has been pushed back 127mm. With that, the new car is also about 13mm higher at 1440mm to boost headroom, and is wider by 18mm to give more passenger elbow room.

The cabin takes cues from the Stinger with a large 8.0-inch touchscreen, circular “turbine” air vents and a minimalistic switchgear design.

Kia Australia is expected to loosely follow US equipment levels with - depending on final specifications and variant grade - LED headlights, connectivity with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless smartphone charging and the potential to read SMS texts aloud through Bluetooth, and a 320-Watt audio system from harman/kardon.

Safety kit can include auto emergency braking (AEB) within Kia’s suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assist, active cruise control and seven airbags.

Prices will be announced closer to launch but Kia Australia is reportedly attempting to retain a $19,990 plus on-road costs entry-level grade complete with AEB.

Will the new-generation Cerato attract buyers with its Stinger-like design? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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