Kia Cerato GT review: warm, getting warmer

David Linklater
  • Sign in required

    Please sign in to your account to add a vehicle to favourite

  • Share this article


Base price
CO2 level g/km
Maximum power kW
Maximum torque Nm
  • Sharper look from facelift
  • Massive rear seat 
  • Brisk but no Clean Car fine
  • Seats not as supportive as they look
  • Ride too firm for this type of car
  • Coarse engine note

Talk about delight being in the detail. Kia’s Cerato GT has always been a compelling package on paper: a very warm (if not all the way to hot) 150kW from its turbo engine, nice chassis and generously practical interior. Not to mention a very sharp price.

It’s a matter of taste of course, but you could argue a lot of the above was undone by the Cerato looking a bit… funny. It’s ostensibly a five-door hatchback so should have looked perfectly normal, but the stretched roofline and droopy front/rear styling also made it look a bit awkward.

Now get a load of the facelifted model, which is exactly the same body shape but has gained some of Kia’s new-gen Blade Runner-type detailing at the front including LED headlights, alloy wheels with a design that seems to push the spokes right out into the wheel arches and suddenly… it looks kinda cool.

It’s still a good drive, too. The 1.6-litre turbo sounds pretty gruff but comes on strong, and the dual-clutch gearbox of our test vehicle seemed to work a whole lot better than that in the last Hyundai Kona N Line we drove (which has a very similar mechanical package).

Interesting to note that the turbo is actually more economical than the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre used in the more mainstream models (6.8l/100km versus 7/4l); so don’t feel too guilty, although also remember it asks for 95-octane fuel. It’s in the “zero band” for Clean Car feebates, so no fine. But no rebate either.

To view all Kia Cerato models listed on DRIVEN, click here

The chassis of the GT is very different to your average Cerato thanks not just to firmer tune, but the addition of multi-link rear suspension in place of the torsion beam used on lesser variants. Seems extravagant, but it’s a platform-specific Kia-Hyundai thing: models with this 1.6-litre turbo powerplant (Kona N Line, i30 N Line among them) get the fancy rear underpinnings.

It’s a good day-to-day car, although you have to accept a pretty firm ride on bumpy urban roads. It’s a sporty car, but not that sporty; we wouldn’t mind if Kia dialled it back a bit. Brakes have also had a boost in the new model, to 305mm front and 284mm rear discs.

Cerato is technically a small (like, Corolla-class) hatch, but the cabin and rear seat in particular are vast. Four adults, easy. The boot has a pretty decent appetite at 428 litres as well.

The cabin has gained a new driver information display and a very swish 10.25in infotainment screen.

It’s generally very well kitted out anyway, with the GT getting a D-shaped steering wheel, full leather if that’s your thing (other Ceratos have synthetic trim), eight-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat with two memories and heating/ventilation for the front chairs.

One thing hasn’t changed from the old car. It’s still too easy to overlook the GT as a dress-up, or mildly fluffed family Cerato. But the quantity of engineering advance over the rest of the family (power, dual-clutch gearbox, suspension) makes it a truly worthwhile flagship. At $42,990 it’s also something of a warm-hatch bargain.

ENGINE: 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol
POWER: 150kW/265Nm
GEARBOX: 7-speed automated dual-clutch, FWD
ECONOMY: 6.8l/100km, 176g/km (3P-WLTP)
PRICE: $42,990


Keep up to date with DRIVEN Car Guide

Sign up for the latest news, reviews, our favourite cars and more.

By signing up for this newsletter, you agree to NZME's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.