Auto

Kia Cerato: a cut above the rest

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer
daleyr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

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THE compact sedan market is the bread and butter of every major car brand, making it a very competitive field. For 2018, Kia adds some of its South Korea flavour to a very familiar set of automotive ingredients to ensure the Cerato continues in its role as the best-selling model in the United States.

Last year it sold close to 117,596 units 'up North' while nabbing the 2017 JD Power Initial Quality Award for the Highest Ranked Compact Car in Initial Quality in the US.

In this segment, the design falls on two extremes: plain enough to not be visually offensive, or to shock and awe buyers into purchasing something out of the ordinary. The Cerato falls on the former however. rather than copy its rivals, it takes a page from the premium models above it. In front, the signature Kia grille is prominent, blending into wide- sweeping headlights. Its silhouette is coupé-like with a rakish angle to the rear roof line. Both features, the large grill and faux coupé styling, mimic the style of several European luxury brands. Yet, instead of being derivative, they add an overall sporty appearance to what should be a sensible boxy, family four-door sedan.

Open the Cerato with its keyless entry, and the interior stays within the segment norms and goes directly back to its function as transportation. There is one element that pushes the boundaries: a set of ripples across the passenger side of the dashboard that makes it look like the centre console is causing ripples. Otherwise, controls are well laid out and easily within reach once a good seating position is found. Not that there is need to reach, as the major functions are accessible from the steering wheel-mounted buttons. The small main infotainment screen is bolstered by a smaller screen in between the speedometer and rpm gauge. One should not be put off by the size as it contains the same system found in even the top-range Kia models, which means its fast, offers easy operation, and has tons of features and functionalities.

Fire up the Cerato and it's fairly refined. Its 1.6-litre and six-speed automatic transmission work in harmony no matter the drive mode it is been placed in. Around town it operates effortlessly with seats that put comfort over sport, allowing occupants to enjoy standard features like dual-climate control and its stereo system. Rear passengers won't want for space despite the external curve to the roof.

In SPORT mode, the transmission does get more aggressive to aid forward progress, especially when the paddle shifters come into use, but Kia hasn't wasted time adding unnecessary elements to the Cerato's résumé. Once up to speed, it is well planted, but continues a similar relaxed feel, that offers confidence, and enough feedback to indicate when it's nearing its limits.

The 2018 Kia Cerato is now available from ATL Tiger Motors, a division of ATL Automotive, starting at $3,650,000.

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