Want an interesting hatchback without the cost – and compromise – of a high-performance hot hatch? Kia’s Cerato GT could be the car for you.
Performance and equipment are central to the appeal of Kia’s Cerato GT, the most expensive model in Kia’s small-car range.
Priced from $37,990 drive-away, it’s about $10,000 more than the entry-level Cerato.
But the GT justifies its expense with a more powerful engine, sportier suspension, a handful of cosmetic touches and a long list of standard features such as leather seats and an eight-speaker JBL stereo.
Kia’s seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty is similarly generous. But capped price servicing for the Cerato GT is a little dear at about $470 per year, while the turbo motor’s 6.8L/100km fuel use is thirsty for a car this size.
Geared toward customers looking for a fully-loaded machine with a sporty side, the Cerato GT isn’t particularly plush.
Riding on 18-inch wheels with suspension both lower and firmer than regular models, it also has a throaty exhaust note and high-performance rubber that creates more road noise than everyday tyres.
It’s not a limousine. But it is more luxurious than many other cars this size, thanks to features such as heated and cooled sports seats, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof and more.
There’s no stress operating the 10.25-inch infotainment screen with wireless charging and smartphone mirroring – you drop your phone in the right place and the car will automatically top up its battery while displaying key features on the central screen.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see that this car is stuffed to the gills with safety gear – active cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assistance and more.
There are clever touches you won’t find in most small cars, such as a safe exit warning system that watches out for traffic when passengers open their doors. There are also safety benefits in bigger brakes, tauter suspension and top-tier Michelin tyres that deliver sharper reactions in emergency situations.
Powered by a 1.6-litre turbo engine, the Cerato GT has impressive 150kW and 265Nm peaks that deliver above-average acceleration. A flat-bottomed steering wheel with shift paddles linked to its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission hints at sporty intent.
We call this sort of car a “warm hatch”, one with more muscle and better reflexes than most cars in this class, but not the uncompromising focus (and $50,000 price tag) of proper performance cars. Kia chose to fit firm shock absorbers to the Cerato, resulting in impressive poise when pressing on – and a harsher-than-expected ride on bumpy roads.
Proper hot hatches such as the VW Golf GTI and Hyundai i30 N have sophisticated multi-mode electronic suspension that allows drivers to choose suspension settings ranging from mild to wild, but Cerato owners have to live with a bumpy ride on every journey.
Mazda3 G25 SP, from about $35,900
Gorgeous looks, impressive dynamics and a 2.5-litre engine combine in an attractive package.
Hyundai i30 N-Line Premium, from about $38,400 drive-away
Same turbo motor and generous kit as the Kia, but a less sporty disposition.
Ford Fiesta ST, from about $37,500
Smaller than the Cerato but thrilling handling and a charming motor.
Well-equipped and fun to drive, the Kia Cerato GT is a great option for folks looking for a sporty drive without breaking the bank.
KIA CERATO GT
PRICE $37,990 drive-away
ENGINE 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo, 150kW and 265Nm
WARRANTY/SERVICE 7-year/unlimited km, about $3300 for 7 years
SAFETY Six airbags, auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert
BOOT 428 litres
SPARE Space saver