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Kia Cerato


Holden Commodore

Summary

Kia Cerato

You need a new small car and have $20-30k to spend, max. What do you do? Easy. You take $24,870 and go straight to our sister site autotrader.com.au and get yourself that sweet-as 2015 white Mazda MX-5 convertible with the manual gearbox and 32,141km on the clock. 

What? You need more than two seats? And a proper boot? For about the same amount of money? Oh… well this is awkward. Okay, have you met the Kia Cerato, then?

I did, I’ve met them all - every Cerato from this new generation model. I’ve driven the sporty one – the GT on some of Australia’s best roads, and I’ve driven the rest, the S and the Sport, on some of the worst roads.
 
My family and I lived with them, too. We drove hundreds of kays, did day care drops off, had supermarket car park meltdowns where nobody was talking to each other, singalongs (that was mainly me, by myself), fell asleep in them and did the daily commute in them.

I feel I know the Cerato so well now, I reckon I could almost build one if you gave me the pieces.

Here’s what I learnt about what could be the best value small car buy out there right now. Or there’s the Mazda MX-5.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

Holden Commodore

For many Australians, calling the new ZB a Commodore is tantamount to being forced to call your Mum’s new boyfriend ‘Dad.’ 

It's not built here, available in rear-wheel drive, there's no sign of a V8 or a sedan body, so why should we accept it as a worthy heir to the badge worn by Holden’s proudest model since 1978? 

One big reason is that it was always going to be the next Commodore, even before Holden decided to stop building cars in Australia. Yes, it was even set to be built here. 

Once the VE/VF Commodore’s Zeta platform was axed during General Motors’ post-GFC rationalisation, the next best thing was to align with the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia designed primarily for Europe. 

Holden was actually involved with the new Insignia’s development from the beginning, which has led to some key details for the Commodore version and Australia, and a whole lot of input from our world-renowned Aussie engineering team. 

So it’s a whole lot more Commodore than you may realise. Whether it lives up to its reputation is another matter. 

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency5.6L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Kia Cerato8/10

The drive-away pricing and big features list makes the Cerato great value, and then there’s the practicality and warranty. Also, you have choice between something a little hardcore or more comfortable.
 
To me, the Sport Plus is the sweet spot in the range. The leather seats, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, proximity key and heated seats clinch it.
 
The Kia Cerato could be the smartest choice you’ll make this year. Or there’s the Mazda MX-5. 

Do you reckon the Cerato is the best value-for-money small car on the market? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Holden Commodore7.9/10

So will the new Commodore become Australia's favourite car? I strongly doubt it, but it's not the car's fault, and it wouldn't be any different if it was a rear-wheel drive, V8, Australian-built sedan. Australian buying habits have just moved on, and diversified into a range of SUVs, small hatches and dual-cab utes. 

Taken as an all-new entry in Holden's revitalised line-up though, the new Commodore ticks all the important boxes required of a mid-size to large passenger car these days. It may not be anywhere near as exciting as a 6.2-litre Redline sedan, ute or wagon, but it’s objectively a far better car overall, and you should definitely give it a drive before dismissing it. 

The pick of the bunch in my eyes is the $39,490 RS Sportwagon with the 2.0-litre petrol engine. Yep, the best new Commodore is now a four-cylinder station wagon.   

Be sure to check out what James Cleary thought of the new Commodore in prototype guise here:

Design

Kia Cerato7/10

What a time to be alive: small cars have never looked better. Have you seen the new Ford Focus or the Hyundai i30? Even the current Toyota Corolla looks sexy.

But does the same go for the new Cerato? The sedan is certainly attractive, but the hatch looks hot from some angles and not from others. The hatch has whiffs of BMW X4 around the tail-lights, although its side profile is not as pleasing as the sedan’s. 

Both have the same angry Kia face with signature ‘tiger nose’ grille, while all grades in both body styles have the glossy black diffuser and lower bumper with integrated exhaust.

And that’s a bit of a tip for you right there. See, despite there being four grades and a $12K price difference between the entry level and top-of-the-range Cerato, the difference in styling is almost zilch. 

Really, the only way you can tell the difference visually between an S grade and a GT is the wheels and exhaust (the S has hub caps and one tail pipe, not two). 

All Cerato hatches have that same body kit, including the roof top rear spoiler. The Cerato sedans don’t miss out – they have a little boot lid spoiler.

If it came down to it, I’d say the sedan is a better-looking car than the hatch.

The cabins are also almost identical although the cloth seats in the S and Sport aren’t as premium looking or feeling as the leather ones in the Sport + and GT, and there are other similarly luxurious elements on these grades such as the push-button ignition and soft-touch plastics. Have a look at the interior photos, I took them myself.

What colours can you get your Cerato in? There are 10, but one ('Sunset Orange') is exclusive to the GT. 

Only one is a non-cost option, too – it’s 'Clear White'. The rest are premium paint colours and will cost you extra. You can have 'Aurora Black', 'Gravity Blue', 'Horizon Blue' (which was the colour of my S hatch and looks great), there’s also 'Runway Red' (that was the colour of my Sport hatch and it was hard to keep looking clean), 'Steel Grey', 'Snow White' and 'Silky Silver'. No green and no yellow.

The Cerato is a small car, but not the smallest Kia – that’s the Picanto and it’s tiny. Nope, the dimensions show the Cerato hatch to be 4510mm end-to-end, while the sedan is longer at 4640mm. Both are the same height at 1800mm tall, but their widths are different with the hatch being 1445mm across while the sedan is 5.0mm narrower.


Holden Commodore8/10

Aside from the move to a front-drive basis, the other key difference between the new Commodore and those of the past is its shift from a classic three-box sedan shape to a sleek, five-door Liftback. Even the Sportwagon has an elegant arc to its roofline, which is arguably their most appealing design element. There are no Ute or Caprice bodystyles, and there never will be. 

The European-designed look is less macho than the bulging wheelarches of the VE and VF, but more in line with its European rivals like the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb. 

The best way to identify specific models is by their wheels, with the trim levels split between a more elegant body trim on the entry, Calais, Calais-V and Tourer variants, and sportier body kits with side skirts and a rear spoiler on the RS, RS-V and VXR flagship.

The interior look is also best described as elegant, with fresh shapes that flow cohesively into the door trims and centre console. There’s a general air of quality about it, but it’s let down by some cheap-feeling controls and switches, particularly the climate control knobs. 

The ZB’s overall size is bigger than you might think, with most dimensions fitting neatly between the VE/VF and the VT-VZ generation that preceded it. 

You might be surprised to learn it’s no lightweight either, with the heaviest Calais-V Tourer actually outweighing the portliest VF by 31kg. 

Interior dimensions are comparable with its predecessor, with the most significant differences being a narrower back seat thanks to its 36mm thinner body and 13mm less rear headroom in the Liftback (but 3mm more in the wagon).  

Before the decision was made to source the new car from Germany, Holden was planning a longer wheelbase for Australia. One specific requirement that did reach fruition is the availability of a V6 engine, which isn’t fitted to European versions.

Under the skin it rides on GM’s E2XX platform, which is a significant evolution of the chassis that underpinned the previous Insignia and the now-defunct Holden Malibu

Aside from having a say in every step of its design process, Holden engineers covered more than 200,000 kilometres of testing on Australian roads and at the Lang Lang proving ground.

This has been to fine tune the drivetrain calibrations, the steering, suspension, and even details like the sat nav and radio reception to suit our tastes and unique demands. 

Specific suspension tunes have been developed for four cylinder models, the V6 Calais, V6 RS-V and the Tourer, with unique setups between Liftback and Sportwagon bodies. 

The only version not to score an Australian suspension tune is the VXR, which was treated to a performance-focused setup at the Nürburgring in Germany. 

Practicality

Kia Cerato8/10

You can get the Cerato as a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback. They’re the same size, but which do you reckon has the biggest boot? The hatch? Nope.

See, the Cerato hatch’s boot has a luggage capacity of 428 litres and the sedan’s boot space is 502 litres.

Thing is, the hatch is the more practical of the two because of its tailgate which opens high and gives you a big aperture and you can fold those rear seats down to open up the cabin as a cargo area.

Another practicality win for the hatch is the segmented storage area under the boot floor. The sedan doesn’t get this which is a shame because it’s like a big bento box for wet clothes or muddy shoes. 

Storage throughout the cabins of both the sedan and hatch is excellent with two cupholders in the fold-down rear armrest and another two up-front, while the centre console bin is deep (there’s a USB charging port in there, too) and the shelves under the dash were a great place to plonk my wallet and phone. Also hiding in there is a USB charging port, a USB media port and a 12-volt outlet. That top shelf under the dash in the GT also doubles as a wireless charging pad.

Room for people is also outstanding. I’m 191cm tall, and mainly all limbs, yet I had no elbow or legroom issues up front and I can even sit behind my driving position in both the sedan and the hatch with about 20mm of space between my knees and the seatback.

The Sport Plus and GT have directional air vents in the second row, but the lower grades don’t get these. That’s something I find pretty frustrating – my four-year-old sat for two weeks in the back of the Cerato S and Sport through the killer summer of 2019 and it was hot back there.


Holden Commodore8/10

Another traditional Commodore trait to have taken a step backwards is its ability to carry three adults across the back seat. Admittedly only really an issue for taxi use, the ZB will certainly still swallow three, and likely three child seats, but less comfortably and more like the similarly sized Camry.

The Liftback’s reduced headroom didn’t matter for this 172cm tester, but if you were marginal in a VF you’d probably want to avoid spiking your hair.  

The cabin ticks all the other important boxes for a modern family car, including twin cupholders front and rear, bottleholders in each door and two ISOFIX child seat mounts in the rear. 

All get a good cluster of USB and 12V charge points, while the RS-V models upwards get a big bonus with wireless phone charging. 

The Liftback's boot space is only slightly down on before at 490 litres, but the huge opening created by the five-door design is so much more useful in the real world. It also brings a split-fold back seat for the first time in a non-wagon Commodore. 

The Sportwagon has lost around 100 litres in capacity though, but is still a very useful 560 litres to seat height or 793 litres to the roof. 

Holden’s local team has also developed a range of optional accessories for the Commodore, which includes a bonnet protector, weather shield, towbar, boot liner, floor mats, headlight protectors, sill guards, locking wheel nuts, roof racks and a cargo net, but there’s no sign of a cargo barrier, nudge bar or bullbar at this stage.

Price and features

Kia Cerato9/10

You’ve had a look online and you’re a bit shocked to find that your $20-$30k may not go as far as you originally thought, especially when you include the on-roads costs.

There’s the new Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and the Mazda3. All great, but they can get quite pricey as you step up through the grades. The Hyundai i30, then? Yep, damned fine automobile. 

But, take a look at its ‘cousin’ the Kia Cerato, too, because I reckon it’s the best value-for-money car on the market right now, and one that no doubt keeps its rivals awake at night as it steals buyers away from them.
 
The Kia Cerato sedan and hatch are priced the same and the value-for-money is outstanding. The entry grade S with a manual gearbox lists for $20,990, and at the time we published this review you could have it for $19,990 drive-away.

The same grade with an automatic transmission lists for $23,790 or $23,490 drive-away. Kia’s drive-away deals are long lasting so check to see if it’s still in place.

You’d probably think the ‘S’ stands for ‘Sport’ but it doesn’t because there is an actual grade called the Sport which is the next tier up and lists for $25,790 or $24,190 drive-away. Then there’s the Sport Plus which lists for $28,840 and can be had for $27,740 drive-away. At the top of the range is the GT which lists for $32,990 or $31,990 drive-away. 
 
Standard features on the S include an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, six-speaker stereo, air-conditioning, cloth seats, 3.5-inch LCD instrument screen, electric mirrors, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and 16-inch steel wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres.

Standard features on the Sport are almost identical to the S. The only difference is the Sport’s premium steering wheel and shift knob, sat nav, plus 17-inch alloys wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres.

The Sport Plus has the Sport’s features and adds leather seats, dual-zone climate control with rear directional air vents, heated front seats, push-button start, proximity key and LED running lights.

The GT has those features and adds wireless phone charging, a 4.2-inch instrument cluster an eight-speaker JBL sound system and 18-inch alloys with 225/40 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber.


Holden Commodore8/10

Aligning with the Insignia’s European platform has bumped the Commodore right up to speed with the current status quo of features expected in such a family car. 

Available Commodore firsts include standard auto emergency braking (AEB) on all models, adaptive cruise control, 360-degree / surround-view cameras, massage and ventilated seats, heated rear seats, wireless phone charging, LED headlights and a power tailgate on the wagons. Like most new cars, there’s no more CD player or DVD player with the radio and other multimedia options. 

The broad model range is split into LT, RS, RS-V, Calais, Calais-V, VXR trim levels, while the off-road flavoured Tourer is split into Calais and Calais-V versions. 

All bar the Tourer and VXR are available with either Liftback or Sportwagon ($2200 extra) bodystyles, while the 2.0-litre turbo engine is standard in the LT, RS and Calais. The V6 with all-wheel drive is available in the RS, RS-V, Calais-V, VXR and both Tourer trims, while the diesel engine is limited to the LT and Calais. 

The base LT Liftback drops the Commodore entry point by $1800 with a list price of $33,690. The diesel engine is available in either bodystyle for an extra $3000. 

Standard features include the aforementioned AEB, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in addition to Bluetooth connectivity with a 7.0-inch multimedia screen, reversing camera, auto parking, a leather steering wheel, an eight-way power driver’s seat, proximity keys, auto headlights and wipers, air conditioning and 17-inch alloy rims.

The RS kicks off at $37,290, or $40,790 in V6 AWD guise, and brings sports front seats, steering wheel and body kit, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and bigger 18-inch alloys, while the Sportwagon version gets a power tailgate. 

The V6 AWD RS-V commands $46,990, and adds leather seats, heated front seats, paddle shifters a larger 8.0-inch multimedia screen with built-in GPS navigation system and DAB+ digital radio, a colour head-up display, wireless phone charger, interior ambient lighting, upgraded Hi Per strut suspension and a sportier rear bumper. 

The $40,990 Calais is also available with the diesel engine for an extra $3000, or as the V6 AWD Tourer wagon for $45,990. 

The Calais sits closer to the LT on features, but adds leather trim, front seat heaters, 8-inch multimedia screen with built-in GPS navigation system and DAB+ digital radio, wireless phone charging, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and 18-inch alloys. 

The Calais Tourer scores a ride height lift (overall height up 42mm) and off-road styled unpainted wheel-arch moulds and bumper caps. 

The $51,990 Calais-V adds a Bose premium sound system, ventilated front seats, a massage function and powered side bolsters for the driver’s seat, heated rear seats, a sports steering wheel with paddle shifters, 360 degree cameras, colour head-up display, adaptive LED headlights and 20-inch alloys. The Liftback version gets an electronic sunroof, while the Tourer version gets a panoramic glass roof. 

The top-spec VXR is closest to the RS-V in terms of features, but for $55,990 it adds VXR-specific sports seats with power adjustable bolsters and ventilation up front, heated rear seats, Bose premium audio, adaptive suspension, adaptive cruise control, Brembo brakes, VXR floor mats and sill plates, active LED headlights, 360-degree camera, electric sunroof, and 20-inch alloy wheels. 

From launch, Holden is offering drive-away pricing across several models, with on-road costs included. The LT petrol Liftback is available for $35,990, while the RS Liftaback is being offered for $38,990 with the 2.0-litre turbo and $42,490 with the V6. The Calais Tourer is also being offered for $47,990 drive away.

MORE: Check out our ZB Holden Commodore price guide and price list here.

The available colours are spread across two whites, two reds, silver, grey, black and blue, with some only available on certain models. All bar the non-metallic white and red will cost you an extra $550, but there’s no sign of the green, purple, orange, or yellow we’ve seen over the past decade. 

Engine & trans

Kia Cerato7/10

So, you can get a Cerato S, a Cerato Sport and a Cerato Sport Plus, but only the top-of-the-range Cerato GT is the true sporty one in the family.

The GT has a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol making 150kW/265Nm. It’s a great engine and Kia has given it a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for quick shifts.

The rest of the Cerato line-up shares a 112kW/192Nm four-cylinder petrol engine. If you want a manual gearbox, then you can only have it with the base grade S, otherwise the six-speed automatic, that is standard in the others, does the shifting for you.

Both are good powerplants, the 1.6-litre is smaller but more powerful and responsive and uses less fuel. How much less? Which we’re just about to get to. 


Holden Commodore7/10

No, there’s no more V8, manual transmission or rear wheel drive, but the ZB’s options are more in sync with its newer rivals. 

For the first time since the VH, or 1984, the base engine is a four-cylinder petrol unit, but uses modern tech like direct injection and a turbo to boost power statistics to more than triple that of the infamous Starfire engine. Also seen in the Equinox, the new turbo motor’s 191kW is also notably 6kW more than the 5.0-litre V8 in the VL Group A SS (Walkinshaw), and 1kW more than the 3.6-litre V6 was making in top-spec VZ Commodores – so pretty good horsepower for its engine size.

MORE: If any Commodore engine problems or automatic transmission problems crop up, you’ll likely find them here.

The real story is its healthy 350Nm of torque, which is also more than what the same VZs were making, but on tap from a useful 3000-4000rpm.

The latest version of the 3.6-litre Alloytec V6 that’s seen duty in VZ, VE and VF models makes a reappearance as the new performance leader, but mounted sideways and turning all four wheels this time. In ZB trim, it produces 235kW and 381Nm, the latter from 5200rpm.

MORE: Find all ZB Commodore specifications here.

For the first time, you can also choose a diesel option with LT and Calais trims, which is a version of the engine used in the previous Opel Insignia. You’ll also find it under the bonnet of the Jeep Cherokee and Compass, and its applications spread as wide as the Alfa Romeo 159 that ended production in 2011. In Commodore guise, the turbo 2.0-litre engine specs are 125kW and 400Nm (available from 1750-2500rpm), and therefore taking out the torque trophy for the ZB range. 

Both petrol engines are paired with a nine-speed torque converter automatic transmission, while the diesel has an eight-speed gearbox. Both four-cylinder engines are front-wheel drive, while all V6 variants are all-wheel drive. 

MORE: What’s the difference between 4X4, 4WD and AWD

The all-wheel drive system is actually quite clever, using what’s called a Twinster twin-clutch rear differential for finite torque vectoring, or sending the just the right amount of power to each wheel. The system varies torque distribution between 100 per cent front and a 50/50 split. 

If you think the Commodore has gone soft, its towing capacity ratings also suggest otherwise, with a 2100kg maximum braked rating for V6 models matching the best offered previously. The four cylinder models are rated at 1800kg, which is 200kg better than what the previous 3.0-litre V6 and LPG models carried.

Fuel consumption

Kia Cerato8/10

As mentioned above, the GT with its 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder is the most fuel-efficient member of the Cerato family and after a combination of open and urban roads Kia says you should see it using 6.8L/100km in both the sedan and hatch. 

When I tested the GT at its launch in January 2019 the trip computer said I was using 7.6L/100km after driving the hatch on mainly country roads and 8.4L/100km in the sedan on similar open roads.

As for the other grades Kia says the combined fuel consumption for the S, Sport and Sport Plus grades with their 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines and six-speed auto is 7.4L/100km. My own testing in the Sport hatch saw me measure bang-on 7.4L/100km (measured at the petrol pump), while the S hatch did 8.6L/100km (also measured at the bowser).

A manual gearbox is available on the S and Kia says you should see it using 7.4L/100km in the hatch and 7.6L/100km in the sedan. Along with that good mileage it's nice to know both engines are also happy to run on regular unleaded petrol.


Holden Commodore8/10

As you’d hope, the ZB sets a new Commodore benchmark for fuel consumption, with the diesel models managing a best official combined figure of 5.6L/100km. The petrol four-cylinder models also pip the VF’s best combined fuel economy figure of 8.3L/100km with 7.4 and 7.6L/100km for the LT, RS and Calais Liftbacks respectively. The Sportwagon versions wear 7.7 and 7.9L/100km figures, while V6 versions span 8.9-9.3L/100km combined ratings. 

It’s worth noting that the petrol four-cylinder engine needs premium 95RON unleaded to do its best, while the V6 is happy to run on regular 91RON unleaded. All versions have a 61.7-litre fuel tank. 

Driving

Kia Cerato7/10

This is simple. There are only two types of Cerato when it comes to driving. There’s the fast and hard one, or the comfy and easy one.

If you’re looking for a Cerato which is pretty quick and has great handling, then it’s the GT for you. The catch is, the GT’s ride is firm and jarring over potholes and speed bumps.

If you’re looking for something which has a comfortable ride and is fuss-free to drive then the S, the Sport and Sport Plus are for you.

See, Kia set out to make the GT a bit more hardcore – it has a more powerful engine, firmer suspension (the torsion bar set-up in the other grades was swapped for a multi-link system in the rear of the GT), it also sits lower and rides on 18-inch wheels with low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres. The result is a hatch which is knocking on the door of Golf GTI territory.

I drove the GT in hatch form at its launch on twisty country roads and it felt planted, with excellent body control and impressive grip. The only thing lacking was more grunt.

This chassis is now so good it feels like it’s in search of a more powerful engine to match it. The steering also felt a bit ‘lumpy’ in places. Still it’s accurate and not a deal breaker.

That lumpy steering feel is also present in the S, Sport and Sport Plus, too but it becomes irrelevant because these grades don’t have the performance bent of the GT. Instead they have a ride which is composed and comfortable, with an engine that provides plenty of oomph for highway cruising, overtaking and city sprints – especially when you select 'Sport' mode which sharpens throttle response.

And while they don’t have the handling and agility of the GT, I was impressed by how controlled and planted the Sport felt when I tested it over the route I normally take sport cars on.
 
More importantly, the S, Sport, and Sport Plus are easy and enjoyable to drive. I clocked up hundreds of kilometres in the S and Sport and found the seats to be wide at the base and supportive around my back, and they could be adjusted to find a great driving position.

Kia tunes most of its cars for Australia roads and the job its local engineering team has performed on these lower grade Ceratos is outstanding – the ride is compliant and comfortable and the car has good body control over bumps and corners.

If I could change anything it would be to improve visibility in the rear corners – those tiny porthole-like windows aren’t big enough.


Holden Commodore8/10

The Commodore we know and most of us love is just as famous for its quality driving experience as its local production and motorsport successes. So, the ZB has some big shoes to fill in this area. 

At the ZB’s media launch, we drove everything aside from the base LT or any diesel variant, over several hundred kilometres of pretty much every road condition. 

I’ll cut to the chase. There’s a genuine quality to the way they handle Australian road conditions. We drove them back to back with a UK-spec model at Lang Lang, and while you’d expect the local car to excel at its own test facility, the rear and front suspension work in harmony to handle mid-corner bumps with far greater stability than the alternative. The electric power steering weighting was also lighter, but it didn’t seem to lose any precision. 

You probably wouldn’t notice it driving to the shops every day or cruising on the highway, but this on-limit controllability could easily be the difference between life and death in an emergency. 

The turbo four is a surprisingly capable and refined package, and would honestly be my pick if I were in the market. It’s smoother and more tractable than the V6, so feels like it would deliver speed more readily than the bigger engine unless you were going flat out. 

Holden isn’t quoting official 0-100km/h acceleration figures, but we hear the petrol four is good for a 7.0 second-ish time, and the V6 will manage just over 6.0sec. So there’s really not much in it outright. 

Therefore it’s a shame you can’t get the Tourer with the petrol four, but because the combination is available in Europe, Holden could shift the line-up if there’s enough demand. 

The nine-speed auto does a pretty good job with either engine, and its electronic brain does a slick job of seamlessly adjusting its shift behaviour to your driving style. 

Holden isn’t quoting ground clearance figures, but all have enough to handle dirt roads, and while the 17-inch wheel equipped models match the VF II’s 11.4m turning circle, be aware that the 18-inch wheel variants blow out to 11.7m, the 19s are 12.7m, and Holden doesn’t quote a figure for the 20-inch equipped Calais-V Liftback and VXR.   

The only other surprise among the group we drove is the Calais-V Liftback, which is likely to be a bit too sharp in its ride for some luxury buyers on its big 20-inch alloy wheels. The Calais or one of the Tourers would be your best bet for comfort.  

The VXR performance flagship is a completely different personality to the SS models of the past. It’s nowhere near as fast, but is more of a grownup package that’s easier to get the best out of. 

Its more demure than the brash final VF IIs, and the V6 does make a pretty sweet note, even if half of it is coming from the speakers.

Nothing was ever going to replicate the romance and pride of the last SS, but all is not lost for fans of fast Holdens.

Safety

Kia Cerato8/10

The Kia Cerato GT and Sport Plus hatch and sedan scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2019, but the Sport and S were given four stars because while they do have AEB it doesn’t detect pedestrians and cyclists like the version on the top two grades.

You can effectively turn a Sport or an S into a five-star car by optioning the $1500 safety pack which adds that version of the AEB plus blind-spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

The Sport Plus and GT come with all of that advanced safety equipment already. The GT also comes with LED headlights which are much brighter and more intense than the halogen units in the other grades.

As you'd expect all Ceratos come with a suite of airbags, ESP and a reversing camera. There are also three top tether anchor points across the second row – they’re easy to use, I’ve installed my four-year-old’s seat in both the hatches I had. There are also two ISOFIX anchor points.

Under the boot floor is a space saver spare.


Holden Commodore9/10

All versions of the new Commodore come with a maximum five star ANCAP safety rating, which has been measured against 2017 standards. The VF’s five star rating was based on 2013 standards.

As mentioned above, all versions get standard AEB and ISOFIX child seat mounts, plus features like lane keep assist and departure warning, auto parking, a reversing camera with front and rear sensors and six airbags covering both rows of seats. 

All versions also get a novel following distance indicator to help you gauge a safe distance from the car in front. This could serve as excellent driver training, and worth having a go with on a test drive.

RS variants upwards get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, while only the Calais-V and VXR get 360-degree /surround-view camera setups.

Ownership

Kia Cerato10/10

The Cerato is covered by Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty. Most carmakers are only just making the move to five-year warranties, but Kia has had this offering in place for years. The Cerato also comes with seven years of roadside assistance.

There’s also seven years of capped price servicing. Kia recommends you service the Cerato S, Sport, Sport Plus annually or every 15,000km. You can expect to pay $275 at the first service, $469 at the second, $339, $623, $309, then $596 and finally $328 for the seventh.

It’s good to know that after seven years of regular servicing you can expect to pay no more than $2939.

As for the GT Kia recommends servicing it every 10,000km or annually. Servicing is capped at $282 for the first service, $476 for the next, then $346, $630, $317, $604, then $640 for the seventh.

The aftercare Kia offers is outstanding and so the Cerato gets full marks for its cost of ownership.


Holden Commodore7/10

Holden is currently offering a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assistance to help boost sales, but be on the lookout for the return of this deal if you miss out this time. Normally, the Commodore carries the standard three year/100,000km warranty. 

Service intervals are now 12month/12,000km, which have shifted from the previous 9month/15,000km terms.

Service costs are capped for the first seven trips to the workshop, with petrol models costing $259, $299, $259, $359, $359, $359 and $259, or a total of $2153 over seven years or 84,000km. The diesel is actually slightly better value at $259, $359, $259, $399, $359 and $399, or $2134 over the same period.