The third-generation Kia Cerato will impress buyers with its sharper design and enhanced dynamics
Kia Cerato, more car for less money The Kia Cerato is bigger and looks a lot sharper than its predecessor. PHOTOS: KIA

One of the biggest reasons for Kia's success has been the design of its cars, which have grown more attractive with each generation. The other reason is that the brand offers more car for less money.

Indeed, the previous Cerato, which was launched in 2013, had a lot going for it. The range-topping SX variant had six airbags, a blind spot monitor and ventilated front seats - features that you would normally find in more expensive models.
After the 2016 update, the SX lost the blind spot monitor, but gained high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and a sunroof.
Kia is using the same design-driven formula in the new Cerato, which will garner lots of interest based on its styling alone.
The new saloon's design is inspired by its Stinger sibling, a sporty fastback that has been gathering praise since its introduction.
The Cerato looks a lot sharper than its predecessor. When its rear end is viewed from afar, one might even mistake it for a Lexus IS.
SPECS / KIA CERATO 1.6
Price: To be announced
Engine: 1,591cc 16-valve inline-four
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual select
Power: 126hp at 6,300rpm
Torque: 155Nm at 4,850rpm
0-100kmh: 11.9 seconds (estimated)
Top speed: 190kmh (estimated)
Fuel consumption: 6.5 litres/100km
Agent: Cycle & Carriage Kia
As with most new cars, the Cerato is also bigger than before. However, the wheelbase length, which primarily determines cabin space, remains unchanged at 2,700mm. Overall, it feels about as roomy as the older model.
The biggest change inside has been to the dashboard, which is now more user-friendly.
Key improvements here include an additional USB port in place of a 12-volt outlet (the previous model had only one USB port) and wireless charging for smartphones. I also like the sportier-looking steering wheel and new air-conditioning vents, which offer a wider range of adjustment.
My test car had familiar amenities such as dual-zone climate control and ventilated front seats.
However, I do not like how the Cerato's dashboard is no longer angled towards the driver and that its infotainment display is no longer integrated into the dashboard. Having the screen sitting on top of the dashboard just looks tacky.
While the new cockpit is a mixed bag, the car's overall refinement is a marked improvement over its predecessor's.
Chalk that up to the amount of high-strength steel used, which has grown from 34 to 54 per cent, and the total amount of adhesive used, which is nearly six times more than in the outgoing model.
Noise, vibration and harshness are less palpable and engine noise is less intrusive too. This is just as well since you will have to work the motor hard if you want to make progress.
With 126hp and 155Nm to its name, the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit carried over from the previous model has actually lost some power (by 2hp and 2Nm, to be exact).
I was hoping the Cerato would also be available with the 138hp turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder found in sister company Hyundai's i30 hatchback.
Well, at least the 1.6-litre engine is paired to a new and more seamless six-speed automatic gearbox.
The lower output is somewhat mitigated by the car's stiffer body and revised suspension, both of which make it feel lighter.
Indeed, during the short circuit drive at the Dubai Autodrome, the Cerato felt nimbler and had less inertia as it tackled the slalom and lane-change exercises.
Further enhancing the handling is the quicker steering, which delivers more feedback too. The Cerato is no sports saloon, but it seems like the engineers have quietly hidden its performance potential.
Perhaps they will unleash it in the hotter Cerato variant, which is due later this year. It will have a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine that pumps out 201hp and 265Nm of torque.
Indeed, the previous Cerato, which was launched in 2013, had a lot going for it. The range-topping SX variant had six airbags, a blind spot monitor and ventilated front seats - features that you would normally find in more expensive models.

After the 2016 update, the SX lost the blind spot monitor, but gained high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and a sunroof.

Kia is using the same design-driven formula in the new Cerato, which will garner lots of interest based on its styling alone.

The new saloon's design is inspired by its Stinger sibling, a sporty fastback that has been gathering praise since its introduction.

The Cerato looks a lot sharper than its predecessor. When its rear end is viewed from afar, one might even mistake it for a Lexus IS.

As with most new cars, the Cerato is also bigger than before. However, the wheelbase length, which primarily determines cabin space, remains unchanged at 2,700mm. Overall, it feels about as roomy as the older model.

The biggest change inside has been to the dashboard, which is now more user-friendly.

Key improvements here include an additional USB port in place of a 12-volt outlet (the previous model had only one USB port) and wireless charging for smartphones. I also like the sportier-looking steering wheel and new air-conditioning vents, which offer a wider range of adjustment.

My test car had familiar amenities such as dual-zone climate control and ventilated front seats.

However, I do not like how the Cerato's dashboard is no longer angled towards the driver and that its infotainment display is no longer integrated into the dashboard. Having the screen sitting on top of the dashboard just looks tacky.

While the new cockpit is a mixed bag, the car's overall refinement is a marked improvement over its predecessor's.

Chalk that up to the amount of high-strength steel used, which has grown from 34 to 54 per cent, and the total amount of adhesive used, which is nearly six times more than in the outgoing model.

Noise, vibration and harshness are less palpable and engine noise is less intrusive too. This is just as well since you will have to work the motor hard if you want to make progress.

With 126hp and 155Nm to its name, the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit carried over from the previous model has actually lost some power (by 2hp and 2Nm, to be exact).

I was hoping the Cerato would also be available with the 138hp turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder found in sister company Hyundai's i30 hatchback.

Well, at least the 1.6-litre engine is paired to a new and more seamless six-speed automatic gearbox.

The lower output is somewhat mitigated by the car's stiffer body and revised suspension, both of which make it feel lighter.

Indeed, during the short circuit drive at the Dubai Autodrome, the Cerato felt nimbler and had less inertia as it tackled the slalom and lane-change exercises.

Further enhancing the handling is the quicker steering, which delivers more feedback too. The Cerato is no sports saloon, but it seems like the engineers have quietly hidden its performance potential.

Perhaps they will unleash it in the hotter Cerato variant, which is due later this year. It will have a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine that pumps out 201hp and 265Nm of torque.