The all-new Kia Cerato’s design (in part) hails from California while its suspension and handling, I’m reliably informed, have been influenced by a highly regarded European marque’s motorsport division – now having seen and then driven the GT version, I believe it all shows.
With its first-generation leaving the Korean factory around 2003/4, the Kia Cerato came with several names globally (I won’t confuse you here) and two body shapes, a hatchback and saloon. Its compact size and affordability made it popular (two million Cerato models sold globally) with a market that was yet to realise its desire for all things SUV.
Now, fifteen calendars later (give or take) KIA have introduced the fourth-generation and it’s rather nice indeed. My review model came in a striking orange delight colour and as I mentioned before, it was the GT turbo hatchback, only top of the line for me baby.
This is the first Cerato to don Kia’s GT badge so rest assured Kia didn’t take this step lightly. According to them, it has more style, more space, more tech and more performance – well we’ll just have to see about that.
The styling is good, no actually it’s better than that, it’s great. The Sedan has apparently been inspired by their very popular Stinger and in the case of the hatchback, the long roofline echoes the ‘shooting brake’ style of the 1950s. Several marques are revamping styling from yesteryear at the moment and (being old like I am) I like it – the Cerato GT is no exception. The long nose leads down to the current Kia signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille and, in my case, the wide lower air scoops and air splitter have been blackened out. The LED headlights and DRLs run from the edge of the grille to midway along the front wing and begins a sharp shoulder line that flows to the tailgate lip at the rear.
The Cerato’s tail-end comes complete with sleek back lights, a full width lower valance that embrace the two chromed exhaust pipes and blackened reverse and fog light surrounds – there’s a lot going on back there.
Even with 18-inch shiny alloys, the GT sits 10mm lower than the previous Cerato hatch and its aerodynamic design gives it a drag coefficient of 0.27cd that assists with the hot hatches overall 6.8L/100km.
Under the bonnet is an advanced 1.6-litre DOHC twin-scroll turbocharged engine that produces 150kW and 265Nm delivered to the driving wheels through a 7-speed DCT gearbox. It’s nippy and nimble especially when you combine that power with the GT’s unique, fully independent multi-link rear suspension system tuned especially to suit this part of the world.
The GT also gets a few more toys than the regular hatch, namely a body kit, dual exhausts, paddle shifters, alloy sports pedals and a flat-bottomed leather sports steering wheel, which neatly leads us inside.
Stinger influenced, the interior has an upmarket sporty appeal. Contrast stitched leather furniture, bucket seats, expansive horizontal-themed dashboard, a floating 8-inch touchscreen controls the infotainment system that includes Apple and Android connectivity, JBL supply the sounds, it’s got wireless charging, more leg and headroom than you can shake a stick at (not sure why you would though) and class-leading bootspace (428L).
Technology wise, the list is vast and impressive (too much to put down here). The brochure reads (see the amount of research I do for you) reads like a who’s who of safety and driver’s aids, from adaptive cruise to pedestrian spotting AEB but all you need to know is that it essentially has all you need and comes with 5-stars.
My experience with the GT was predominantly out of town, for which I am thankful. The Cerato comes with Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart driving modes, the latter of which predicts your driving mood and adjusts accordingly, however, to be sure of uninterrupted Sport mode driving, I slipped the gear stick over to S and to be honest that’s where it remained.
The throttle is responsive, as is the steering. The cabin is generally quiet but there’s a rather nice sound that comes from the engine bay under throttle, so a lot of the time. It corners like a Euro and very much enjoys the countryside, as did I.
More style, space, tech and performance is the 4th-Gen Cerato’s claim and you know what, Kia could very well be right.