If you're set on a passenger car for your family, rather than an SUV, read on.
Kia has continued the move toward giving the brand a sportier edge with the addition of GT models in its Picanto and Cerato passenger car range.
The new models are not in the same league as the recently released, and hugely successful, Stinger and neither are they are intended to be – Kia likes to refer to them as “warm” rather than “hot hatches”.
For those looking for a family car, the Picanto micro car is not going to be at the top of the shopping list, but the Cerato is a very different story.
As we have discovered at Direct Advice for Dads over the past 12 months, passenger cars often have the same, or even more interior space than similar sized SUVs – the body style of choice for the vast majority of Australians today – making them a viable option for new families.
The 2019 Cerato is bigger than its predecessors (it is marginally bigger than the top-selling Mazda 3) and is available in sedan and hatch body styles.
They offer the same amount of room in the front and back seats but the hatch provides more space, and flexibility, when it comes to the cargo area.
Importantly, both body styles will comfortably accommodate the larger size prams most young families tend to buy these days.
We will be able to provide more detailed information on just how much additional space they have once you have packed the pram after we complete a comprehensive review in the coming months.
It is the same with car seats. While we are confident the larger rear facing baby seats will fit, at the national launch we did not have an opportunity to test exactly how much leg room you will have in the front seat with a rear facing seat behind you.
What we can tell you with some certainty is that the Cerato GT is a very different proposition to any other Cerato model when it comes to driving enjoyment.
The GT is powered by a 150kW 1.6-litre direct injection turbocharged petrol engine paired with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission (there is no manual option).
While it may not be enough power to enable it to compete against hot hatches like the VW Golf GTI or the Honda Civic Type R, the Cerato GT is an engaging and enjoyable car to drive.
At the launch in the Yarra Valley in Victoria we had the opportunity to drive the GT and then jump into a standard model (there are three – S, Sport and Sport +) powered by a naturally aspirated 112kW 2.0-litre engine that can be matched to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
It was like driving two different cars.
Not only is the performance very different — the GT even has an electronically enhanced exhaust note to emphasize its sporty pedigree — but so is the ride and handling.
While the suspension in the standard models is comfortable in the GT it is much firmer and therefore you feel more of the imperfections in the road.
It also feels more planted on the road, which is very reassuring, especially on twisty roads like we experienced in the Yarra Valley.
The extra grunt in the 1.6-litre also enabled it to power out of corners easier and smoother than the 2.0-litre. The driving experience was further enhanced by the steering that was precise with a good amount of feedback. It is a fun car to drive.
“Passenger cars often have the same, or even more interior space than similar sized SUVs.”
Importantly, the Cerato GT also comes with a comprehensive range of driver assist technology and safety equipment to help keep the family safe, enabling it to score a five-star safety rating.
With newly introduced changes to crash testing, that place more importance on technology that helps prevent accidents, the GT is the only model in the Cerato range to score the maximum score.
All other models, that do not come standard with the same driver assist technology, were given a four-star rating despite offering the same level of protection to passengers in a crash.
On the road, a distinct body kit and dual exhaust make it easily distinguishable from its stable mates.
The interior continues the sporty theme with a flat bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters, alloy sports pedals and a dark leather upholstery with red stitching continue the sporty theme.
Space for the front seat passengers is very good for a vehicle that competes in the small car market and while taller passengers will find leg space in the back seat a little tight we feel confident there is enough room for a rear facing car seat.
In regards to features the Cerato GT is well equipped with a premium JBL sound system with an eight-inch touch screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition. For those who use the latter it also has a wireless recharging pad for your phone.
With a drive-away price of $31,990 (the only option available is premium paint at $520) and with a market leading seven-year unlimited km warranty it is also makes it a very good value for money proposition.
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