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Kia Cerato SX 1.8


Stylish, right? The Kia Cerato EX brings a touch of premium attitude into the small-car class.

Base price: $37,490.

Powertrain and performance: 1.8-litre petrol four, 110kW/178Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 7.7 litres per 100km.

Vital statistics: 4350mm long, 1450mm high, luggage capacity 385 litres, fuel tank 50 litres, 17-inch alloy wheels on 215/45 tyres.

We like: Striking style, equipment, attention to detail, value.

We don’t like: FlexSteer a gimmick, not especially sporting.

How it rates: 8/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? The Kia Cerato is a quiet achiever in the small-car class. It doesn’t headline alongside the likes of the Toyota Corolla or Mazda3 in the sales charts, but it remains a critically acclaimed machine that seems to offer plenty on paper: high style, a modern powertrain and loads of equipment in flagship SX form.

Kia New Zealand now offers the top-specification Cerato SX with a smaller 1.8-litre engine, arguing that many buyers want a fully loaded car without paying for the extra performance.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The 1.8-litre multi-point injection (MPI) engine is definitely a step down from the 2.0-litre gasoline direct-injection (GDI) unit that’s also offered with the Cerato SX: it makes 110kW/178Nm, which puts it down 19kW/31Nm on the larger powerplant.

We’re not sure that matters a whole lot in a model that’s all about style and a pseudo-luxury small-car experience. The 1.8-litre engine and six-speed transmission are an able combination and the Cerato is still acceptably sprightly. The owner even more so, if he or she is thinking about the $3000 saved over the 2.0-litre version.

The Cerato is not sporty like a Mazda3, but it does tackle corners with a confident gait. Fundamentally it’s a sound package, although we’re not fans of the FlexSteer system, which allows you to choose the weighting of the steering at the touch of a button. It seems like an unnecessary gimmick that does not add anything in the way of communication – and Kia seems to agree, for FlexSteer is disappearing from newer models such as the facelifted Sportage.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? The Cerato SX has quite a sumptuous feel for a mainstream small-car. The interior styling and build quality is certainly superior to the sister Hyundai i30, with a distinctive visual character and nice range of textures.

The SX has plenty of luxury equipment, such as leather upholstery, heated seats and dual-zone climate control. Nice colour information screen and the bright, easy-to-use satellite navigation system is excellent.

But what might strike you more than anything is the attention to detail: things like interior lights that activate as you approach the car, or a powered driver’s seat that has 10-way adjustment, two memory settings and an automatic slide-back function to ease egress when you turn the car off. All pretty swish stuff for a car in this class.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? Buyers are spoilt for choice in the small-car segment and the Cerato is one model that struggles for attention, among big brands and enthusiast-oriented offerings. But ignore this SX model at your peril: it does very little wrong, it’s loaded with equipment and there’s a pleasingly sense of attention to detail that actually shows many of its big-name rivals the way to go.


  • Air conditioning: Dual climate
  • Audio: CD, iPod compatible
  • Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
  • Blind spot warning: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Cruise control: Yes
  • Driver footrest: Yes
  • Head-up display: No
  • Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/ventilated driver’s only
  • Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
  • Lane guidance: No
  • Leather upholstery: Yes
  • Parking radar: Yes with camera
  • Power boot or tailgate: No
  • Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/Yes
  • Remote audio controls: Yes
  • Satellite navigation: Yes
  • Seat height adjustment: Yes
  • Self-parking technology: No
  • Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
  • Steering reach adjustment: Yes
  • Stop-start: No
  • Trip computer: Yes

Find a Kia Cerato for sale HERE.

Auto Trader New Zealand