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If you can look past the lack of power, the Kia Cerato offers a lot of value for car buyers looking for an affordable, practical and well-equipped compact family sedan.

31 Aug 2018

Let's get one thing immediately out of the way - if you're interested in a perky, fun-to-drive compact family sedan, this story is certainly not for you. May we suggest you check out the Honda Civic, or perhaps the Mazda3.

If you're still reading this, then you must know that the Kia Cerato (previously called the Forte K3) is the Korean brand's most popular and best-selling model. And this recently launched third generation model promises to build on its predecessors' excellent combination of practicality, affordability and all-around usability.

The Cerato's new front fascia draws clear inspiration from the Kia Stinger

In fact, during its launch in Singapore earlier this month, 80 of the first new Cerato owners collected their cars without having seen or test driven it before. Madness? Perhaps. But there must be a reason for such strong demand, right?

Is it the looks?

Certainly, the new Cerato looks much more striking than its predecessor. The reworked design draws styling cues from the Kia Stinger, including the tiger-nose grille and head lights. The rear, too, exhibits a more stylish demeanour, with the tail lamps blending with the rear trunk lid spoiler.

The comfortable, spacious and well-equipped cabin is arguably the Cerato's best attribute

The new Cerato is certainly eye-catching, overcoming the general blandness we tend to associate with cars in this class. So yes, the car's looks is definitely one of its appealing attributes.

Is it the interior?

The cabin is perhaps the Cerato's strongest suit. Compared to its predecessor, the Cerato is 80mm longer, 5mm taller and 20mm wider. This increase in overall dimensions translates to additional cabin and boot space. The interior of the car is roomy, with a good amount of legroom for the rear passengers. The electric sunroof also adds to that sensation of airiness.

The 502-litre boot is one of the largest in its segment

Move to the back of the car and the trunk opens to a 502-litre boot, one of the largest in its class. Additionally, the Cerato features a Smart Trunk function - stand close to the boot with the key on you, and the trunk will automatically open after a few seconds. This is certainly handy for when your hands are full with groceries.

In this particular SX trim, it's certainly well-equipped. You get ventilated front seats, an electric driver's seat with memory function and an 8.0-inch floating LCD touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Additionally, to fulfil all of your smartphone charging needs, you get three USB ports, as well as a Qi wireless charger.

Is it the way it drives?

As a point-to-point car, the Cerato performs just fine. It's actually quite quiet if you keep the revs under 3,000rpm. Engine noise is minimal, noise insulation is good, and it's generally quite fuss-free to drive. As far as fuel economy is concerned, we managed about 13.3km/L.

The Cerato now comes with an 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen

However, if you do need to hurry to places, be prepared to be somewhat underwhelmed. This is definitely the most notable downside of the Cerato - it's just not very powerful. The car's powertrain, a 1.6-litre engine paired to a six-speed automatic gearbox, is carried over from the previous generation model. Honestly, just don't expect too much from it - the engine produces a very modest 126bhp and 155Nm of torque.

Overtaking manoeuvres require patience and extra anticipation, because the engine is somewhat unwilling to rev, and even when it does there's not a ton of power on tap. Even with the pedal to the metal, you get a lot more noise than you do actual acceleration.

Rear passengers have good amounts of legroom 

But it's still a worthy buy?

Well, a lot of people seem to think so, what with over 700 customers indicating interest before having even seen the car.

The Kia Cerato is exactly the car you imagine it to be - spacious, well-equipped and extremely practical, but not particularly interesting or fun to drive. Keen drivers will likely look elsewhere. 

The new Cerato is a value-for-money compact family sedan with high levels of equipment and all-around practicality

However, for the majority of Singapore car owners who are just looking for an affordable, practical and comfortable compact family sedan, the Cerato definitely has much appeal. We suspect that most buyers will be most attracted to the middle EX trim model, which does away with some goodies like the ventilated seats and sunroof, but costs $6,000 less than this SX trim (priced at $88,999 as of press time).

If you can look past the lack of power, the Cerato makes a ton of sense - for your money, you are getting quite a lot of car indeed. It's no wonder that Kia has already delivered more than 80 cars since the Cerato's official launch in Singapore. Expect this number to rapidly grow.
Also read our comparison article on:
Kia Cerato 1.6 GT Line vs Seat Toledo 1.4 TSI DSG Style

Car Information



: -

Engine Type


Gamma 1.6 MPi

Engine Cap





94kW (126 bhp) / 6300 rpm



155 Nm / 4850 rpm



6-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption


15.1 km/L

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