Kia Cerato GT Line 1.6 Review
re-NEW-ed KIA On The Block

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
19 Oct 2021
 

The Koreans have been in the game for about 30 years now, and with each new generation, their offerings have steadily been improving in quality.

If you look at bread and butter sedan offerings today, you will find that the European offers have all been but whittled down to just one offering, which is the Category B COE Skoda Octavia. Although customer preferences have changed over time, there is still a significant demand for the humble sedan. Most offerings are from Japanese brands, with models like the industry benchmarking Toyota Corolla and luxuriously appointed Mazda 3 near the middle of their life cycle, while the Honda Civic has just made a splash here. 

The Koreans have been in the game for about 30 years now, and with each new generation, their offerings have steadily been improving in quality. The new nomenclatural musical chair-playing Avante from Hyundai arrived last year, though well-kitted, has a polarising body design. KIA on the other hand, which has recently gone through a rebranding exercise, has also given their Cerato a midlife refresh.

The re-arranged KIA Cerato is the first vehicle in the Korean brand’s lineup to don the brand’s new logo, which now sits on a more impactful front end. The redesigned grille has been extended to border the headlights, adding more tiger to the nose. New dashed lighting elements, six on each side, within the headlights which form the daytime running lights, also act as visual extensions of the grille within the lenses. The restyling exercise also sees the rear lights fitted out with a dashed motif, which matches those in the front. 

While nips and tucks have been done, KIA has retained the placement of their quirky rear bumper-mounted indicator lamps. Our GT-Line test car also gets a snazzy set of multi-spoke 17” wheels, and fancy black body trimmings, and oh yes, a boot spoiler so that you will not be scolded for going to TaoBao to buy more kit for sportier inspiration. Interestingly, both the GT-Line and mid-tier EX model get (slightly) better braking capabilities with four-wheel disc brakes, while the base L model makes do with drums at the rear.

Inside

Along with the facelift, KIA has focused heavily on improving the user experience by adding a larger 10.25” colour infotainment screen and there is support for both Apple and Android devices, and now not only sits near-flush against its surround, but it actually looks like a seriously expensive piece of equipment… yes KIA, you can pat yourself a “Barry Horowitz” for that one. KIA has also done away with the physical menu buttons, opting for a super neat integrated touch bar below the screen. Apart from the uprated boombox screen, the rest of the interior remains largely unchanged.

My favourite frill in the GT-Line car is its front ventilated seats, which are a big plus in our tropical climate. Other useful convenience features like the wireless mobile phone charging pad are great to have, especially if you are someone who is often on the move, and would rely heavily on your device.

The Cerato does a good job with ferrying four-and-a-half adults, with ample passenger room at the rear, while the boot, boasting 502 litres is easily more than sufficient for you to do your groceries and for that ugly bucket and washing cloth which will have a permanent home in there. In contrast, the Toyota Corolla’s boot is approximately 50 litres smaller. While all is good when it comes to space, the high boot lip may become an issue if you need to load or remove bulky items.

The Drive

The same Gamma 1.6 litre engine, producing 128hp and 155Nm, which powered the pre facelift car, makes its way under the bonnet. Unlike its sister car, the Hyundai Avante which uses a CVT transmission, the Cerato relies on a conventional 6-speed automatic, which performs smoothly.

Even so that the GT-Line has a snazzy kit, the Korean compact sedan’s performance sits on the fence between acceptable, and somewhat moderately underwhelming; the latter is especially true if you are used to how a small turbocharged engine delivers.

I appreciate that drive refinement has come such a long way, with damping that is tuned for comfort. The rear suspension, a rather simple torsion beam affair, does not get as unsettled over uneven surfaces as I thought it would. While most things are good, the brakes are on the spongier side, but they still perform acceptably well.

The 17” rims on the sporty-looking GT-Line car does contribute to some firmness to the ride. But since the Cerato is built with a lean to comfort, more sidewall in this case actually wins. The middle-of-the-pack EX model runs on 16” wheels, which is a good compromise between comfort, and pleasing aesthetics. The base L model makes do with 15” wheels, yeah and again… did I mention rear drums? 

The GT-Line variant is stacked to the brim with KIA’s ‘DRIVE WiSE’ Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). Beyond the comprehensive suite of features the mid-tier EX model already has, the GT-Line adds Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, which can help prevent collisions from cars approaching from side junctions, Blind-spot Collision Avoidance Assist which reduces the chance of collision from happening when making a lane switch. It also has additional park distance sensors in the front to help with maneuvering in tight parking spaces. 

Our Thoughts

The GT-Line-badged KIA Cerato is stacked to the brim with features which could put a premium-badged same-sized car to shame. It does however feel less alive on the road than its Japanese counterparts, like the Toyota Corolla and the Mazda 3.

It is also pricey for what it is, as it retails above the $100k mark. The middle-of-the-pack EX, might be the most logical choice here, especially if body dressing is not even on your list of must-haves, and it does come with most of the safety suite. However, this is without my favourite two features which are the wireless phone charging pad and the ventilated front seats.

Thank you all for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my reviews. This will be my final one. So long and farewell! I will see you on the other side!

In Summary

We Like

Extremely well-equipped. Surprisingly refined.

We Don't

Lacks grunt. Spongy brakes.

Verdict

If you like a feature-packed vehicle, the Certao GT-Line has lots to offer. The engine, with its lack of grunt may not be too much of an issue, since its traditional lower price point makes it somewhat an attractive buy for the low and mid-range model, though the GT-Line might seem pricey for a Korean brand.

Car Loan Calculator - Kia Cerato GT Line 1.6 (A)

SGD 133,999 (23 Jun 2022)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 30% down payment

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