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MOTORNET: Diesel Kia Leads Lineup

Published: Tue 20 Mar 2007 11:52 AM
Diesel Kia Leads Lineup
SCOOP MOTORNET with Karl Ferguson
Images by Neil Mackenzie - onlinefotos.com/neil


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It’s getting to the point that to be a credible importer of vehicles into New Zealand these days, you need to offer at least one diesel powered vehicle in your passenger car line up (though some prefer hybrids). This is good news for consumers as diesels tend to offer the best of both worlds – good fuel economy but good performance as well.
Kia – who continue to expand their range – have taken this to heart, and the recently revised Cerato line-up includes a revised diesel model. The Cerato sits somewhere in the middle of the model range, competing most naturally with the Corolla sized class.


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At the heart of the car is a 1.6 litre CRDI diesel engine that develops 85kWs and a healthy 255Nm of torque. Much of the torque is available early in the rev range (though there’s little happening below 2000rpm) which means the mid-size Cerato is a willing performer around town. The 0-100km/h time recorded by NZ Autocar of 10.32 seconds somewhat belies the sprightly feel of the car, though it generally isn’t fast in a straight line.
The really good news though about this model is its genuine fuel economy. Kia claim an average of 4.9 litres per 100kms, and while I couldn’t quite match that figure, I did see a consistent return of 6.2 litres – suggesting that the Kia could do better if greater economy was what the driver was seeking. C02 emissions are also amongst the lowest in the class which helps the Cerato in the environmental stakes too.


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The five-speed manual transmission is competent but let down a little by a long throw, and it generally feels looser than what you might expect from a modern car. But the clutch action – as with most Kias – is light and easy to use, and will prove a cinch for most drivers.
Dynamically, the Cerato doesn’t exactly set new standards. It handles predictably, resorting to understeer when really pushed, and there is a degree of body roll that can be unsettling at the edge of its handling limits. Having said that, the ride quality is actually pretty good, though it’s prone to a level of harshness over some, poorer quality road surfaces.
The Cerato has had a minor facelift in recent months which includes some external design changes like new headlight clusters, a new grille with chrome accents, and redesigned fog lights which are now standard on all models. The styling is still fairly generic, opting for a look least likely to offend rather than something more unique. In sedan form, it also looks a little pinched at the ends. Nevertheless, it is a modern looking car and should have a reasonably broad appeal.


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Where the Cerato particularly benefits is in equipment levels. While Kia still offer an entry level LX sedan for $26,640, the rest of the range – including the diesel – have been upgraded to full EX trim. This includes climate controlled air-conditioning, trip computer, cruise control, traction control, six airbags, and quality upholstery. It feels very well built, and while some of the materials appear a little low rent (at least this one has real metal door handles!) there is a lasting impression of longevity with the car. Ergonomically too, it seems well designed and its simple, straightforward approach to switch gear and minor control layout is good – something more established manufacturers could learn from!
At just under $30,000, the Cerato diesel is virtually line-ball with the ever popular Toyota Corolla 1.8 litre petrol in terms of price. While this may not seem especially cheap, the high level of standard equipment, the 5 year warranty and the added appeal of a diesel – plus the prospect of negotiating a discount from a motivated dealer – could sway punters towards the Cerato. It’s certainly worth a test drive, with the diesel likely to be the pick of the bunch.


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ENDS

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