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Journeys : April May 2010
6446 Acouple of months on and 2726 kilometres under our belt, likes and dislikes are starting to emerge. There hasn't been any reason to visit the dealer for problems, nor have there been any squeaks, rattles, clunks or bits falling off -- since Hyundai took a 39% stake in Kia, it's clear to see that quality control and finish have improved out of sight. I believe it's fair to say Kia has improved in quality and styling more than any other manufacturer in the last eighteen months. The interior of our vehicle is pleasant enough, but some of the interior plastics tend to look a little hard and cheapen the overall look, although it is built to a price, with the entry level vehicle under $19,000. One point on quality I must mention -- it stood out on the Cerato more than any recent car I have driven -- is the lack of a solid 'thud' when the door closes. I know it is only a sound, but quality build is often judged by it. Some manufacturers have teams of engineers just to get that sound right. Cerato doesn't have it yet. All seats are fairly fir m, with the front lacking contour and feeling quite flat. That said, I haven't really felt uncomfortable even on longer driving stints. Rear space and comfort for the younger members of the family are better than average for the class. Neither complains about rear leg space as they have with other more-awarded vehicles in the class. Boot space is also significant for the class and although there is a small hump in the boot floor from the full- sized spare wheel, it never really causes a problem. Little has changed from my initial opinion on interior ergonomics. Steering wheel controls for cr uise and sound system are simple and instinctive. All other controls are where you'd expect and within easy reach. Auto dusk-sensing headlights are well-calibrated and there are plenty of storage option s. Connectivity via both a USB port and au xiliary plug provide numerous options to get your favourite music to your ears. The 2.0L new Theta II engine is strong and has almost class-leading power at 115kW - 194Nm. In day-to-day driving it is smooth and unobtr usive to the passengers. When pressed into the higher rev range it can become coarse and intr usive, but in normal driving you're unlikely to experience anything unpalatable. Current fuel economy is sitting at a respectable 8.2l/100km. Although the official combined cycle is 7.9l/100km, I spend con siderable time in city-only driving and have achieved 7.3l/100km on highway r unning. Unlike the moder n engine, the 4-speed automatic isn't anything like state-of-the- art. The transmission has a tendency to up-shift at very low RPM, like a Direct Shift Gearbox. While this doesn't cause too many problems chugging around the city and is fine at cruising speed on the highway, when extra urge is required on hills the ratios are quite wide and the vehicle will hunt between gears. There is also a reluctance to dow nshift when required, with cr uise control set. When the class standard is five and six-speed autos, four ratios just doesn't cut it. Unless you have a specific need for the auto, I would save $2000 and get the manual. To be continued ... Kia Cerato 2 Extended test Darren Moody April / May 10 38
Feb March 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010