By Ross Kiddie
In a global market hell-bent on buying sport utility vehicles, there’s a lot to be said for the traditional family sedan and liftback/hatchback.
There are plenty of bargains to be had in that part of the market, and although the segment has diminished a lot in recent years, there is still good choice, especially mid-size models.
I’m a bit of a sedan fan, and I’m pleased to report there are still some crackers coming out of Asia.
One of the very progressive Korean companies still offering sedans and liftbacks is Kia, and their mid-size model just entered a new generation.
Effectively, there are six models in the range, LX, EX, GT Line and GT; the LX and EX are available in both body styles, the GT Line and GT are liftback-only variants.
I’m scheduled into the turbocharged 1.6-litre GT later in the year, however, this evaluation focuses on the GT Line that is powered by a naturally-aspirated 2-litre engine which, incidentally, is pretty much a carryover from the previous generation.
The Cerato GT Line is priced at $39,990, taking into account the range starts at $31,990 for the LX and ends at $41,990 for the GT.
The GT Line gets a hefty range of specification, leather trim with heated and cooling seats, satellite navigation, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, smart cruise control and touch screen control system are all included, plus there is a high level of kit for safety.
Fitment aside, what the Cerato does in the first instance is to provide an inviting driving experience, one which is smooth and relates to comfortable travel.
It is also a car which won’t cost a lot in terms of usage. Kia rate the engine with a 7.4l/100km (38mpg) combined cycle average, and that wasn’t too far distant from the 8l/100km (35mpg) figure constantly showing on the fuel usage readout. It also displays a 5.5l/100km (51mpg) instantaneous figure when travelling at 100km/h (engine speed 2050rpm).
On the subject of figures, the engine is rated with a 120kW (6200rpm) power output, that’s a hearty figure for a 1999cc engine, and it also gets a useful 192Nm of torque available just above mid-range in the rev band at 4000rpm.
It is a lively engine and lets you know when it is working hard but even though it is quite audible it isn’t overbearing. The benefit is a fully responsive throttle pedal through the entire rev range, it is constantly eager.
Power is transferred through a six-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels, there are no surprises there, but to say the transmission is a beauty in terms of sophistication. Interestingly, there are no paddle shifters in the GT Line, but manual shifts can be made from the main gear lever.
There are also three drive modes comfort and smart, the latter switching to sport mode if throttle percentage is high. I used smart mode mostly, it recognises each driver’s style and adjusts the engine management protocols to suit.
In terms of acceleration, a GT Line buyer can expect a standstill to 100km/h time of 9sec, and it will power strongly through a highway overtake in 5.2sec. These aren’t as quick as what you’ll get out of the GT proper, but they are enough to satisfy the buyer who doesn’t want outright performance.
I took the test car on my standard inland loop, incorporating a run up and down the Waimakariri Gorge incline. It cruises the long straights with quiet motion, and also takes on a sporty feel when presented with a corner or two. Steering feel is sharp, and directional accuracy is decisive.
Price Kia Cerato GT Line, $39,990
Dimensions 4510mm; width, 1800mm; height, 1445mm
Configuration Four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive, 1999cc, 112kW, 192Nm, six-speed automatic.