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Sydney show: Kia sets sail with Cerato hatch

Booster shot: Kia looks set for a big sales boost with its long-awaited Cerato hatch.

Kia launches its crucial Cerato small hatch in Sydney, and unveils 2011 Optima

15 Oct 2010

AFTER being denied access to the high-volume Australian small hatchback market since its redesigned Cerato was launched here only in sedan form almost two years ago, Kia this morning unveiled the highly anticipated five-door hatch version at the Sydney motor show.

Kia Motors Australia’s new chief operating officer, Tony Barlow, also took the wraps off the redesigned TF-series Optima, which from early next year will bring the resurgent Korean brand back into the mid-sized sedan market after the previous MG-series Magentis was discontinued more than 12 months ago.

The TD-series Cerato is set to play a crucial role in Kia’s plans to increase sales in Australia by around 50 per cent in the next 18 months, including a forecast 30,000 sales in 2011.

On sale from today priced from $20,240 (plus on-road costs) for the Si manual, the hatch is more expensive than the Cerato sedan, which costs $18,990 for the S version and $19,990 for the equivalent Si grade.

17 center imageLeft: Kia Cerato hatch. Below: Kia Optima.

However, Kia is quick to point out that the hatchback features significant styling modifications, specific Australian-market tuning for the front strut/rear torsion beam suspension and electric power steering, more refinement and upgraded equipment such as keyless entry and Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connectivity.

A new six-speed manual and optional six-speed automatic transmission (with a gate-style shift pattern and Sport mode) also feature on the Cerato hatch, which is a key upgrade from the current five-speed manual and four-speed auto offered on the sedan (but which will also be upgraded early in 2011, along with the Cerato Koup).

Automatic adds $2000 on the Si and $2200 on the higher-grade SLi, reflecting the introduction of steering wheel paddle shifters on the flagship model. The manual SLi starts from $24,040.

While 1.6 and 2.4-litre petrol engines are available overseas, the Cerato five-door has followed the sedan in sticking solely with the familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘Theta II’ petrol engine that produces 115kW of power at 6200rpm and 194Nm of torque at 4300rpm.

The new transmissions have been instrumental in reducing fuel economy for the hatchback over the sedan, with the five-door manual returning 7.5L/100km (and 179g/km of CO2) and the automatic 7.7L/100km (and 183g/km).

The Cerato sedan, by comparison, consumes 7.8L/100km in manual form, or 7.9L/100km for the auto, while its 0-100km/h acceleration of 9.3 seconds (auto: 10.5) is also lagging behind the hatchback, which hits the mark in 9.1 seconds with the manual and 9.8 with the new automatic.

Electronic stability control is fitted as standard across the range, along with ABS with EBD and four-wheel disc brakes, the latter measuring 280mm diameter (ventilated) at the front and 262mm (solid) at the rear.

Among the range of measures employed to reduce noise, vibration and harshness in the hatch cabin – which will also be introduced on the MY2011 sedan and Koup – is additional sound-deadening material in the pillars and luggage compartment side panels, heavier-gauge steel in the exterior cowling top panel, thicker insulation on the dashboard, and higher-density carpet for the cargo floor.

First unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in April, the Cerato hatch has the same wheelbase (2650mm), width (1775mm) and height (1460mm) as the sedan but a 190mm shorter rear overhang that reduces its overall length to 4340mm.

Maximum cargo volume is listed at a competitive 385 litres with the 60/40 split-fold rear seats upright, rear seat headroom is 20mm higher than the sedan as a result of the extended roofline, and kerb weight ranges from 1302kg at the entry level to 1780kg at the top of the range.

Styling-wise, the hatch has a host of unique features. It has specific roof and rear side panels, the rear styling (including a two-tone rear spoiler, a visible exhaust on SLi, and rear combination lamps split across the tailgate shut line) is obviously all its own, while the front-end is different, too, with a redesigned grille and lower air-intake, remodelled foglights and revised door mirrors that also now incorporate an LED light guide.

The 17-inch alloy wheels (shod with 215/45-section tyres) also come in a ‘double five-spoke’ design.

Cabin ambience has gone up a notch with detailing work such as chrome edging to the cup-holders and centre console, which is designed to contrast with the single-tone black dash.

The Si uses a black fabric ‘tricot’ finish, while the SLi comes with black ‘Mesh Rachel’ fabric with red stitching and the option of black leather trim.

A palette of nine exterior colours will be offered for the hatchback, namely white, black, bronze, blue, orange, two shades of red and two shades of silver.

“The availability of this third body style for our small passenger segment category will enable Kia dealers to meet the needs of a broader range of customers,” Mr Barlow said.

“This derivative will boost total Cerato sales to an even higher level across all Australian states.

“Most significantly, the new model is a continuation of the local ride and handling development work carried out by Kia Motors Australia on Sportage earlier this year and is another step in what will be an ongoing program of launching new vehicles in Australia which are locally adapted to suit Australian drivers’ discerning tastes.” Local specifications and pricing for the all-new Optima, which made its first appearance alongside the Cerato hatch in New York earlier this year, will be released closer to its launch early next year, but it will have a number of mechanical (and other) similarities with sister brand Hyundai’s i45 range.

2010 Kia Cerato hatch pricing:
Si $20,240
Si (a) $22,240
SLi $24,040
SLi (a) $26,240

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