Kia Cerato 1.8 SX Hatchback 2014 Review

Kia Cerato 1.8 SX Hatchback 2014 Review

We drove the Cerato sedan a while back, and now the Cerato is back with a hatch version and some new tricks, most notably a sat nav sitting in the middle of the dash.

kia-cerato-sx-1.8-hatch-2014-rear-quarterKia is continuing its modus operandi of providing cars that punch above their weight. The design is well-sorted, and there are no issues with quality. If you want the 1.8-litre SX, like our test car, the price has increased a little since the last version and is now $37,490. There’s a model above – the 2-litre, which is $40,490 (used to be $38,490) and that gets an extra 19kW, 31Nm of torque, alloy pedals, sun roof, paddle shifters and a few other niceties.

kia-cerato-sx-1.8-hatch-2014-sat-navAll models come with ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, electronic stability programme (ESP), six airbags, immobiliser, remote keyless entry, and front and rear parking sensors. Only the base model doesn’t get a reversing camera. A nice touch is a small light on the door handle that senses the key and glows as you approach the car. Many premium manufacturers don’t put that feature on their cars.

kia-cerato-sx-1.8-hatch-2014-sideThe media system supports Bluetooth audio streaming, and it connected to my iPhone 5 instantly. You’ve also got the more conventional options of radio and CD.

Outside the new hatch lines suit the car. Kia’s tiger nose grille is the same with its projector headlights and daytime LED running lights. The mirrors are heated, and out the back you get a spoiler and chrome exhaust tip. The metallic mushroom ‘Golden Beat’ colour our car came in isn’t my favourite but there are eight other colours to choose from including quite a sharp black.

kia-cerato-sx-1.8-hatch-2014-front-interiorAll the 1.8-litre models come with 110kW and 178Nm, and Kia quotes 7.1l/100km fuel economy. We achieved around 9l/100km. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic with sequential sport shift, and it drives the front wheels. The engine and gearbox is the weakest point in the car and it’s the main reason how you know that this Kia is just under forty grand rather than just under fifty grand. If you want to make progress rapidly the engine can sound coarse and strained, and there’s not a whole lot of acceleration.

kia-cerato-sx-1.8-hatch-2014-bootAs I mentioned in my review of the sedan version last July, most people aren’t going to care about this because the Kia is more refined than anything anywhere near the price from a few years ago. It’s also a trade-off: put in an awesome engine with more power and refinement but better fuel economy, and you’d front-load the costs of owning the car. Most people don’t think about the long term fuel consumption, although you’d need to drive a considerable distance to make back the savings given that a superior engine might return 6l/100km and that’s only $250 extra every 10,000km in extra fuel.

Anyway, it’s not like the Kia doesn’t ride well. It’s no Golf GTI, but it can hold its own in the corners, even if they’re rough. The main problem is that the gearbox doesn’t seem to anticipate which gear you might need coming out of the corner and is a little slow, and when it does change down you get that strained engine noise.

But who is going to buy a Kia Cerato and want to punt it through sinuous tarmac? We do it because it’s part of being a motoring journalist – sensibly approaching a car’s limits so we can tell you what it’s like. 99% of Ceratos, though, are going to be driven sensibly, and nowhere near approaching the limits. You are going to put the seat cooler on, chill out, stream some jazz from your iPhone and make your way through traffic.

What we’ve got is a car that is very similar to the sedan, but more convenient. The hatchback boot is a reasonable size at 482 litres, and the inclusion of satellite navigation takes the Cerato a level higher. I wanted a little bit more performance – I guess I can get this by buying the 2-litre model; and I wanted a little more engine/gearbox refinement. But overall, for a car less than $40,000 it provides excellent value for money in a package that looks sharp.

Price: $38,490

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Looks

Cons

  • A bit tight on the rear legroom
  • Feels like it needs more power

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