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Kia Cerato 2022 review: GT sedan

The Cerato GT carries across the styling updates from the 2021 facelift (Image: Tim Nicholson).

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Urban score

3.5/5

Three years after the fourth-generation Cerato small car rolled into Australian dealerships, Kia launched a mid-life facelift for the sedan and hatch range in mid-2021.

It ushered in styling tweaks including new headlights and Kia’s new logo, as well as more safety tech and a multimedia upgrade.

At the top of the range sits the warmed-up Cerato GT. It’s not quite Hyundai i30 N-level performance, more i30 N-Line. In other words, more than enough performance to keep most people satisfied and enough poke to get away quickly at the lights.

But is the updated version of Kia’s Cerato trying to be something it’s not, or is it a performance bargain?

Read on to find out.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The GT is priced at $35,290 before on-road costs regardless of whether you opt for the four-door sedan (as tested here) or the five-door hatchback, though be aware that Kia Australia regularly runs drive-away pricing campaigns.

There’s not a lot of competition in the warmed-up small car market these days. A number of carmakers have slimmed down their small-car line-ups in the face of falling sales.

Kia’s closest rival is also its mechanical sibling, the Hyundai i30 N-Line sedan and hatch. The Hyundai is cheaper by more than $2500, but the more generously equipped i30 N-Line Premium sedan is a little over $2000 more expensive than the Cerato GT.

The Mazda3 GT sedan and hatch could also be considered a rival and pricing is about on par with the Kia.

Other lower grades in the Cerato range run from $25,490 to $30,640 (MSRP).

The GT benefits from the more premium powertrain offering in the Cerato line-up – the 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine shared with the i30 N-Line and the recently discontinued Veloster Turbo.

The GT bodykit adds sporty styling flourishes like a black front and rear diffuser, boot spoiler, dual exhaust, black external mirror caps, red highlights and 18-inch GT alloy wheels. 

The GT bodykit adds 18-inch GT alloy wheels (Image: Tim Nicholson).  The GT bodykit adds 18-inch GT alloy wheels (Image: Tim Nicholson). 

This theme carries through to the cabin too with features like alloy sports pedals, flat-bottom perforated leather sports steering wheel and leather-appointed seats with red stitching and embossed GT logo.

As the range flagship, the GT also has the most standard equipment. It comes with a sunroof, eight-way power driver’s seat, wireless device charging, an eight-speaker JBL premium sound system, heated and ventilated front seats and dual-zone climate control air conditioning.

The only option fitted to the test car was Snow White Pearl premium paint for $520.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

When the fourth-gen Cerato sedan was revealed in US-market Kia Forte guise at the 2018 Detroit motor show, the design was praised for taking inspiration from the sleek Stinger performance sedan.

  • The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson). The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson). The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson). The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson). The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson). The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson). The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson). The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson). The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson). The 2022 Cerato has had a subtle, yet successful design refresh (Image: Tim Nicholson).

The facelift has arrived at just the right time to keep the Cerato fresh against the dominant Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and new Volkswagen Golf.

The sharpened front-end styling features an eye-catching daytime running light signature and the headlights now connect with the redesigned, slimline Kia ‘tiger-nose’ grille in gloss black.

It’s a subtle, yet successful design refresh.

Inside, the Cerato is starting to look its age against rivals like the Golf and Mazda3 (Image: Tim Nicholson). Inside, the Cerato is starting to look its age against rivals like the Golf and Mazda3 (Image: Tim Nicholson).

Inside, the Cerato is starting to look its age against rivals like the Golf and Mazda3. Those GT themed additions definitely lift the ambience of the cabin, but the dash layout feels a bit generic and the overall interior design is nothing flash. Especially when you consider the interior of some of Kia’s latest models, like the impressive Sportage medium SUV.

How practical is the space inside?

As mentioned, the red stitching throughout, chunky steering wheel and sports seats are welcome additions to the GT cabin.

There are soft-touch materials on the top of the dash but hard plastics on the dash fascia. 

There’s no fully digital instrument cluster, but it has a 4.2-inch LCD display in the cluster showing fuel economy and the like. No complaints with the analogue dials and there’s a digital speedo if required.

The update ushered in Kia’s latest multimedia system to the Cerato and it’s a winner thanks to cool graphics, logical menus and its ease of use.

There’s quite a sizable central storage bin and glovebox, while the console houses a key slot, two sizeable cupholders and a second spot for devices adjacent to the charging pad.

The front sports seats look sexy, have excellent side and body bolstering and they’re firm, but comfortable.

A 600mL bottle will just fit into the doors, bit it’s tight.

A 600mL bottle will just fit into the doors, bit it’s tight (Image: Tim Nicholson). A 600mL bottle will just fit into the doors, bit it’s tight (Image: Tim Nicholson).

Sitting behind my six-foot (182cm) frame in the rear, legroom is adequate but toe room is tight. My head was about an inch away from the headliner due to the sloping roofline. The rear seats are also firm.

The Cerato has lower rear air vents, one USB-C port, a map pocket on the passenger side, a central rear armrest with two cupholders, and bottles slot into the doors easier than they do up front.

There is adequate legroom in the back but toe room is tight (Image: Tim Nicholson). There is adequate legroom in the back but toe room is tight (Image: Tim Nicholson).

Kia offers a temporary spare wheel housed under the boot floor. The boot is long, offering an impressive 502 litres (VDA) of cargo space, which is more than other small sedans like the Subaru Impreza (460L VDA) and the Hyundai i30 (474L VDA).

  • The boot is long, offering an impressive 502 litres of cargo space (Image: Tim Nicholson). The boot is long, offering an impressive 502 litres of cargo space (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • The boot is long, offering an impressive 502 litres of cargo space (Image: Tim Nicholson). The boot is long, offering an impressive 502 litres of cargo space (Image: Tim Nicholson).
  • Kia offers a temporary spare wheel housed under the boot floor (Image: Tim Nicholson). Kia offers a temporary spare wheel housed under the boot floor (Image: Tim Nicholson).

Lower the rear 60/40 seats via the levers in the boot and that space increases further, but they don’t fold completely flat.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

While all other Cerato grades use a 112kW/192Nm 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, the GT benefits from a spicier powertrain.

Under the bonnet is the Hyundai Group 1.6-litre T-GDI four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (Image: Tim Nicholson). Under the bonnet is the Hyundai Group 1.6-litre T-GDI four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (Image: Tim Nicholson).

Under the bonnet is the Hyundai Group 1.6-litre T-GDI four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine delivering 150kW of power at 6000rpm and 165Nm of torque at 1500-4500rpm. This is the same tune as the Hyundai i30 N-Line.

This is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. Lower grades use a six-speed torque converter auto. Kia dropped the manual from the S and Sport grades as part of the update.

The GT differs from the rest of the Cerato range as it has multi-link rear suspension, instead of a torsion beam setup. Both the suspension and steering have been tuned for dynamic driving. More on that later.

How much fuel does it consume?

According to Kia, the Cerato GT sedan uses 6.9 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle. The GT hatch uses 0.1L less.

After a week of mixed driving in the Cerato GT, we recorded a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.0L/100km – a fair bit more than Kia’s claim.

The GT emits 157g/km of CO2 (official combined).

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Cerato GT achieved a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating in 2019 and it applies to all Cerato variants built after June 2021, except the S and Sport which have four stars because the autonomous emergency braking system offered as standard in those grades can’t detect vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists.

Standard safety for the GT includes auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, forward collision warning, rear occupant alert, driver attention assist, rear cross-traffic alert with collision avoidance, blind spot detection and collision avoidance assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist with lane follow assist steering, safe exit warning, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

At one point, the AEB kicked in pulling out of a parallel street parking spot because it detected a vehicle that had already driven past the car and was several metres ahead.

Kia’s lane keep assist system is generally impressive and functions without issue, but it pulls on the wheel a little. It’s not jolty like systems offered by some other brands.

When lane keep and follow assist are active, it can be fiddly to switch them both off. If you hold the steering wheel-mounted button down, the follow assist stays on but the lane keeping deactivates, so you just have to keep holding the button down until the lane and steering wheel icons in the digital display eventually disappear.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Cerato, like all Kia models, is offered with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and one-year free roadside assist which extends year by year if you service with Kia (up to eight years).

The Cerato is offered with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Tim Nicholson). The Cerato is offered with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Tim Nicholson).

It also comes with a seven-year capped-price servicing plan that costs approximately $3234 over the seven-year period.

Servicing intervals for the Cerato GT are every year or 10,000km, whichever comes first.  

What's it like to drive around town?

The 1.6-litre turbo engine is a ripper and it’s been put to good use in Hyundai’s i30 N-Line and Veloster Turbo.

It’s just as willing and responsive under the bonnet of the Cerato GT, but they each perform quite differently.

Accelerating from a standing start, there’s mild turbo lag in the Cerato, and some torque steer when accelerating hard.

Once up and running it’s quick, and the seven-speed dual clutch snaps through the gears smoothly while still allowing it to rev freely.

It’s the type of powertrain that is utterly unbothered by things like steep ascents. The Cerato GT just keeps pushing on, without losing momentum.

The downside of that is that the engine is super noisy when pushed and the Kia just doesn’t have sufficient noise suppression materials to counter that. Because of this, it lacks the refinement of its i30 N-Line cousin and the Mazda3.

Steering is weighted on the heavier side but it’s direct and the car goes where you point it.

Like many Kia models, the Cerato GT benefits from an Australian-specific steering and suspension tune. Kia doesn’t have a full performance hot hatch to line up with the i30 N, but the engineers seem to have tuned the suspension to be just as capable as the full-fat i30 N.

That certainly aids dynamic driving in the Cerato GT. It hugs corners and grips the road, avoiding any skipping and with only a hint of body roll.

However, we think Kia’s engineers have made the damper settings too firm, because the Cerato GT’s ride is harsh in virtually all driving environments.

A new, freshly laid road surface in an urban area without any speed bumps was the only time the ride was comfortable during our week with the car.

It crashes over potholes and it’s loud and jarring when you unexpectedly encounter a sharp rut. There’s a bit of vibration through the steering wheel too.

This is disappointing, especially when you consider that the i30 N-Line has a much more supple ride and is the sort of warmed-up hatch or sedan you could easily live with day to day.

We briefly drove the i30 N hot hatch just before we got into the Cerato GT and even that has a more tolerable ride quality than the Kia.

Kia has value and packaging on its side with the sleek and spunky Cerato GT sedan. There’s no shortage of standard gear, it comes with the latest multimedia and safety gear and the cabin and cargo area are spacious and practical.

The powertrain is a winner too. Which is why it’s such a shame that it’s let down so badly by the ride quality.

If you’re going to be driving on various road surfaces, or regularly driving long distance, check out the far more compliant Hyundai i30 N-Line instead.

But if you’ll only ever drive in urban areas – or enjoy the occasional back-road blast – and you can handle the firm ride, there’s still plenty to like about the Cerato GT.

 

$35,290

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Urban score

3.5/5
Price Guide

$35,290

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.