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Kia Cerato S hatch 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Kia Cerato S hatch with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Kia Cerato S hatch with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

The Kia Cerato hatch would totally know exactly how William Mapother feels. Who's William Mapother? Yes, thought you'd ask that. William Mapother is a Hollywood actor, and a very talented and successful one in his own right, too. Thing is, his cousin is Tom Cruise. Both are skilled in their craft, it's just that Cruise is better known and gets lead roles in blockbuster movies like Minority Report while Mapother gets parts in TV series' like Minority Report.

The Cerato knows Mapother's pain, because its cousin is the third best-selling car in Australia – the Hyundai i30 – and shares the same platform. And like Mapother the Cerato is not just talented but it's better looking than its cousin, as well.

Like Mapother the Cerato is less expensive, too. Take our test car for example, the base-spec Cerato S is $19,990 drive-away, with an automatic transmission at no extra cost. Kia has assured us that it'll keep it at that drive-away price, too. That is amazing, and makes it very likely the best buy on the market right now.

But while the Cerato hatch and the i30 are closely related, is the Cerato worth getting just because it's cheaper? Perhaps there's a reason why the i30 is a 'box office' hit?

Design

This generation Cerato hatch came out in 2013 with drop-dead gorgeous looks thanks to a bloke – Peter Schreyer - who left his design gig at Audi and began drawing Kias a few years earlier, and car-by-car was beautifying the entire range. So the new Cerato took its place alongside its newly restyled Kia family members like the Sorrento SUV and Optima sedan.

Three years with the same face and insides is a long time in the car world and in 2016 the Cerato was given a spruce up with a makeover that gave it a more upright grille with a black finish, plus a tweak in the design to the headlights and taillights.

The Cerato's front and rear design is bold, clean and aesthetically pleasing.

It was all done without changing the Cerato hatch's dimensions, too, which stayed at 4350mm end to end, a wheel base of 4350mm, a width of 1780mm and  a height of 1450mm. Compared to Tom Cruise, sorry the Hyundai i30, the Cerato hatch is 50mm longer, the same width and 20mm shorter in stature. It's the wheelbase where the extra length is and the Cerato's is 50mm longer than the i30. So what? Well, wheelbase normally dictates cabin room.

Looks-wise the Cerato wins the beauty contest, and this probably cheeses Hyundai off no end. The Cerato's front and rear design is bold, clean and aesthetically pleasing. The i30 isn't bad looking by any means, and the new i30 which debuted at the Paris motor show is frankly stunning, but it's not on sale yet.

  • 2016 Kia Cerato S 2016 Kia Cerato S
  • 2016 Kia Cerato S 2016 Kia Cerato S
  • 2016 Kia Cerato S 2016 Kia Cerato S
  • 2016 Kia Cerato S 2016 Kia Cerato S

The i30 weighs from 1270kg-1350kg for the auto base model, the Cerato S auto is almost the same at 1309kg-1332kg.

The 'Euro-ness' extends into the cabin with a dark, stylish interior, the driver orientated dash is trying to be sporty, but the asymmetrical design makes my OCD for order get a bit antsy. The Cerato S's low-fi tech is also a bit daggy, but if you keep reading you'll learn there's a cool way to fix this that doesn't involve an axe.

Practicality

If we said the Cerato has a boot capacity of 385 litres and told you that it's seven litres bigger than the i30, it kind of means nothing, right? But that seven litres makes all the difference in reality. When we tested the base model i30 Active we almost couldn't fit the CarsGuide pram into the boot and there was quite a bit of squeezing and shoving to get it in there – not the case with the Cerato, the same pram made it in easily without touching the sides.

Sitting in the back seat behind my driving position there's plenty of room even for my 191cm frame. There's two cup holders up front and two in the back and bottle holders in all the doors.

The official test for headroom is: can a tall man style his hair at the traffic lights? You'll have to watch the video to find out.

Talking of doors, the Cerato hatch's back doors are bigger than the i30's, and they open to give you large entryway and exit.

If you're like me and you arrive at the car with a hand full of phones, keys, wallets, brush and hair product you'll be as pleased as I was to find a big bucket of a storage hole in front of the gear shifter to chuck it all.

What about the headroom? Well the official test for headroom is: can a tall man style his hair at the traffic lights? You'll have to watch the video to find out.

Price and features

That driveaway price of $19,990 for the Cerato S is hard for any of the Kia's rivals to beat. Hyundai occasionally drops the price of its base spec i30 to $19,990 but not permanently.

Coming standard in the Cerato S is front and rear parking sensors with a proximity display on the dash which works so well, there's front and rear fog lights, cloth seats, centre arm rests in the front and back, tinted glass, cruise control, and interior lights over the front seats and one over the back row.

This is the one grade which doesn't get alloy wheels – if you look closely those are 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, but not many people will notice.

Okay, the media unit in the Cerato S is shockingly ancient and simple, but for $500 you can buy the AV pack and that adds a seven-inch touch screen with reversing camera, Android Auto (and soon Apple CarPlay) and auto headlights. That changes the appearance of the cabin too, making it far more modern looking. The AV pack is a no-brainer, get it, it's of more value than spending $520 on premium paint. White is the only colour that's free, go for that – it'll be cooler in summer, too.

Engine and transmission

This is one area that doesn't majorly impress. The Cerato S like all Ceratos is powered by a 112kW/ 192Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine but it's just not spritely enough for a car that looks as dynamic as this. The six-speed automatic transmission is adequate, but isn't the smoothest around.

Fuel consumption

Kia says that over a combined range of driving conditions the Cerato S should use an average of 7.1L/100km, or if you're just sticking to the city that'll increase to 9.8L/100km. I recorded 11.3L/100km with the trip computer around mainly urban environments. I'm not the smoothest of drivers and this combined with the engine being a tad sluggish and my attempts to motivate it with my right foot could have contributed partly to this figure.

Driving

Sure the engine could be punchier, but the ride and handling is spot on. Kia's Australian engineers are renowned for the extensive work they put into fine-tuning the suspension of the cars they're given from Korea to suit our roads. The upgrade in 2016 saw the engineers retune the suspension again to be firmer for even better handling. The great ride and dynamics almost entirely makes up for the lack of oomph.

The steering system was updated in that revision, too, with a more powerful computer and you can feel the difference – smooth and accurate.

The front and rear parking sensors, plus the proximity display work well together and is better than a camera in that you can keep your eyes on the surroundings and 'hear' the distance.

The driving ergonomics are great with the Cerato S, too – from the excellent seating position to the good pedal feel.

Visibility is a little compromised out the front because of the thick pillars either side of the windscreen, while the view out the back is also limited making that AV pack well worth the money. It's easy to park though, the front and rear parking sensors, plus the proximity display work well together and is better than a camera in that you can keep your eyes on the surroundings and 'hear' the distance. Still a camera is by far the best to ensure the way is clear of kids and obstacles.

Safety

The Cerato S hatch has the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. While the base spec S gets the expected ABS, traction and stability control and EBD, the more advanced safety tech such as blind spot and rear cross traffic warning only comes standard on the higher grades.

For child seats there's two ISOFIX mounts and three top-tether points in the back.

Ownership

The Cerato S is covered by Kia's seven year unlimited kilometre warranty. No other carmaker can match that right now. There's capped price servicing and road side assistance for seven years, too. Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 15,000km and capped at $289 for the first service, $365 for the second, $331 for the next, then $487, $325, $437 and the seventh at $345.

Verdict

At $19,990 drive-away the Kia Cerato hatch in the S base grade is the best buy currently on the market with its great as value for money, quality and excellent ride and handling. The clincher here is the drive-away price with the bonus of that incredible warranty and capped servicing plan.

Would you consider a William Mapother over a Tom Cruise? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Kia Cerato pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$14,888
Based on 282 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$10,980
Highest Price
$22,999

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Koup Si 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $14,190 – 18,700 2016 Kia Cerato 2016 Koup Si Pricing and Specs
Koup Touring 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,250 – 24,420 2016 Kia Cerato 2016 Koup Touring Pricing and Specs
Koup Turbo 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,820 – 22,550 2016 Kia Cerato 2016 Koup Turbo Pricing and Specs
S 1.8L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,980 – 16,990 2016 Kia Cerato 2016 S Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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