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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Cerato is roomy, and has plenty of equipment, including lots of safety kit

Against It's a comfortable car, but vague steering and body roll mar the drive

Verdict It's safe, well equipped and practical, but driving it is a let-down

Go for… 1.6 GS

Avoid… 2.0 SE

Kia Cerato Saloon
  • 1. Build quality is reasonable, but the materials used are far from the best around
  • 2. If the clutch pedal works anything less than smoothly, then don't bother with the car
  • 3. Give the manual gearbox a good test, and be wary if it doesn't engage first or reverse gear smoothly
  • 4. Engines that sound unduly noisy on start-up are best avoided. Make sure the cooling system works properly, too
  • 5. Both the hatch and this saloon have good boots, but the saloon isn't quite as practical
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Kia Cerato Saloon full review with expert trade views

The Cerato replaced the Shuma in May 2004. Inside the contemporary cabin, the layout is neat and tidy, and build quality is of a reasonable standard, but the materials are far from the most expensive around.

Finding a decent driving position shouldn’t be too difficult because the steering column and driver’s seat are height adjustable. You can accommodate four adults in reasonable comfort, although they’ll have more headroom in the back of the hatch than this saloon. Both models get 60/40 split folding rear seats and decent boot space.

Three engines are available - two petrols, a 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre, along with a 1.5-litre diesel. None is outstanding. The handling is nothing special, either. Vague steering and large amounts of body roll mean the Cerato is a long way off the class leaders. As long as the road surface is smooth, ride comfort should be good enough, though.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Inexpensive and modern styling but imageless. 1.6 LX petrol 5dr is the one to buy

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Obviously, the five-door hatchback is more practical than this booted saloon, but if you want the most powerful engine, you have no choice but to go for the saloon. The 141bhp 2.0-litre petrol is only available in four-door format.

With variable valve timing, it’s a flexible performer, but not terribly economical. The remaining choices are a 109bhp diesel and a 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol, which is the one we recommend.

There’s no need to worry about lousy equipment levels. Even if you plump for the entry-level GS, you still get air-con, remote central locking, electric front windows and a CD player, which is pretty good. And the trim we'd recommend.

Don’t worry too much about LX trim, because the biggest gain there is alloy wheels. Meanwhile, the 2.0 SE flagship will allow you to cruise the mean streets in climate controlled and leather upholstered luxury.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Only now finding its level, early 1.6 GS is the value buy

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Despite its undoubted extra performance and the ability to crack 60mph in 9.0sec, the 2.0-litre isn’t really worth it. Insurance gets bumped up to group 9, while fuel economy gets ground down to an official 37.7 mpg, and in real-world driving conditions that’s going to work out closer to 30mpg.

As for the rest of the range, it doesn’t matter if you go saloon or hatchback, petrol or diesel, SE or LX, insurance is going to be the same - group 7. The 1.5-litre diesel comes with an impressive claimed 57.6mpg, while the 1.5-litre petrol still manages an acceptable 40.4mpg. The driving range is good on all models, thanks to a 12-gallon fuel tank.

On average, the Cerato works out a little less expensive to service than rivals such as the Chevrolet Kalos and the Hyundai Matrix, and like these two, it only needs servicing every 10,000 miles.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Inexpensive and modern styling but imageless. 1.6 LX petrol 5dr is the one to buy

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Great things are expected from Kia in the future, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the manufacturer is there quite yet. The JD Power survey repeatedly demonstrates that there is still work to be done.

Few specific faults have been highlighted on the Cerato yet, but do check for clutch problems. If the pedal feels anything less than smooth and fluid in its action, then step away. Also, ensure that you give the five-speed manual a thorough trial. If the gearbox refuses to engage first or reverse gears smoothly when cold, there could be an underlying - and expensive to fix - reason.

Engines that sound unduly noisy on start-up are best avoided, and even if all sounds well, make sure the cooling system is working properly before purchasing.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Only now finding its level, early 1.6 GS is the value buy

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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