Kia Cerato SX GDi Sedan 2013 – Review

Kia Cerato SX GDi Sedan 2013 – Review

Kia’s website instructed me to expect the unexpected regarding the Cerato, and I certainly didn’t expect the driver’s seat to be both heated and cooled in a car that costs a paltry $38,490. The passenger’s is only heated, so you will be able to gloat on a hot summer’s day as your unclad legs will not stick to the leather seat (which is also 10-way adjustable with two seat memories).

kia-cerato-sx-gdi-sedan-2013-rqFor your money you get a two-litre sedan packing a 129kW, 209Nm CVVT petrol engine with a theoretical fuel economy of 7.4l/100km. In reality

, you’ll only get that if you travel on slight downhill gradients everywhere – I registered around 9l/100km in mixed driving. It’s fairly light at 1258kg, so performance is OK despite the low torque. It’s connected to a 6-speed automatic (with paddle shifters if you’re so inclined) which is not shabby, but not quick either.

kia-cerato-sx-gdi-sedan-2013-wheelPower is delivered to the tarmac via some 215/45R17 tyres wrapped around tasteful 17-inch alloys. The braking system puts in a solid performance and is backed up with anti-lock, brake assist, and electronic brakeforce distribution, plus the Cerato has electronic stability programme to brake each wheel independently if things get squiffy. Six airbags are included as standard.


The second thing that surprised me was that you can change the steering mode, but you probably won’t bother. You can have it comfortable, or sporty, but it’s best to just leave it in normal.

kia-cerato-sx-gdi-sedan-2013-dashboardThe driving position is good. Kia has included a useful large receptacle behind the gear lever to put your phone and other fripperies, and the glove box is a good size (as well as being cooled, like the seat).

Also on the steering wheel are buttons for cruise control and audio. The audio system is also accessed via a 4.3-inch touchscreen and comes with Bluetooth connectivity for your phone. That screen shows you the reversing camera image and, along with the front and rear parking sensors, makes parking quite easy.

While you get a reasonable boot for a sedan at 482 litres, the rear legroom does take a hit and is the only thing to look out for if you’re a tall driver with tall kids to transport. The seats are split folding with access to the boot, though the aperture is rounded off.

On the outside the Cerato has a strong profile – it’s a good-looking sedan. In the fluff that manufacturers write about their own cars, Peter Schreyer, the designer, says the tiger nose grille reflects a ‘less is more’ philosophy and he reckons it evokes passion through purity and honesty. I don’t know what that means. The front is grille is busy with angular lines and looks kind of like a bat. But without the head. I like it, but it doesn’t evoke passion.

Therefore I suspect Peter has engaged in a game of one-upmanship with the other PR fluffers to develop a description that’s supposed to get you excited about the grille. It’s a nice grille, but it is just a grille.

kia-cerato-sx-gdi-sedan-2013-f-interiorIn fact, the actual game of one-upmanship is where we’ve arrived with the ever increasing level of standard kit. There’s a war and how it’s being won is that the budget marques are packing features in at the expense of engine refinement, gearshift speed and out-and-out performance. But it actually doesn’t matter because every Kia you drive today is better by a large margin than a Kia of five years ago, and better by some margin than a great deal of any other sub-$50,000 cars from five years ago, too. The engines already are quite refined; the transmissions already are capable and quite smooth; why foist incremental (and expensive) improvements on people that won’t appreciate them?

We’re at a point where marques at the lower end of the scale don’t need to improve those things any further, and they know that people will accept 7.4l/100km because it’s not bad and it keeps the car under $40,000, whereas getting it down into the 6l/100km range would add more up-front costs. That fuel economy technology will trickle down over the next few years just like fans in the seats, reversing cameras and the different steering modes have done.

Cars are acceptably refined at a certain price point, and the Kia meets and exceeds all your expectations of a car that is less than $40,000 by giving you the features of a car that’s worth at least ten grand more. Chuck in a 5-year, 100,00km warranty, 5-year roadside assist and incident care (a service that helps you sort out your car and gives you a courtesy car if you crash yours), and the deal definitely looks unexpected. But I’ve come to expect that.

Price: $38,490


  • Quite a lot for your money
  • Looks tidy


  • Rear legroom is tight

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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