Kia is approaching hot hatch waters with the all-new 2019 Kia Cerato GT hatch. Could it be classed as a proper hot hatch, or is it just a mildly-tweaked version of an otherwise conservative car? Let’s see.

2019 Kia Cerato GT: What is it?

The new Cerato launched in Australia in June last year. In January the local arm then introduced the GT version. This is the first time the GT badge – and accompanying sporty credentials – have been applied to the nameplate in this country. And what a generation to base it on. The new Cerato already looks sharper and more stylish than ever, as is the way with modern Kias.

You can get the GT in sedan and hatch layout. Prices start at $31,990 for either sedan or hatch, before on-road costs.

2019 Kia Cerato GT: What does it come with?

Both sedan and hatch come with a 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine producing 150kW and 265Nm. Although hot hatches of today’s market tend to be a bit more powerful than this, most of them use a 2.0L engine capacity. So, 150kW here is actually pretty good. As standard the Cerato GT comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with front-wheel drive.

This is a modern Kia. In other words, it comes with heaps of gear. Where do we start? For the interior there’s some surprisingly sporty seats with power adjustment for the driver, a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, alloy pedals, and a number of subtle yet suave metallic silver trimmings for contrast. Red stitching for some of the furniture helps to set the scene.

Entertainment is provided by an 8.0-inch touch-screen media interface. This is one of the easiest and most intuitive media screens you’ll find in this class. Hyundai drivers will recognise the unit, as it shares plenty via the Hyundai-Kia umbrella. Some of the in-built apps include sat-nav, a rear-view camera, and the full connectivity of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Trust us, you won’t really be looking for more tech in here. It comes with everything. There’s even an eight-speaker JBL sound system that really pumps out the bass, and heated/cooled front seats.

Going for the GT brings in a number of upper-end features as well, such as a wireless phone charger, bespoke 18-inch alloy wheels which look quite racy in our opinion, as well as sports suspension that brings the ride height down by 5mm over the standard hatch. There’s also – and we really love that Kia has fit this – a sports exhaust system with dual outlets. As you can hear in our quick video below, the exhaust produces a distinctly sporty note.

As for the general practicality and in-car accommodation, the hatch is superb. There’s so much room to move about and lots of little and big storage areas, with cup holders and bottle holders, and ample headroom and legroom in the front and back. The back seat in particular is a real standout for this class, with an almost flat floor providing enough comfortable space for two adults or three for shorter journeys. Boot space is rated at an SUV-like 428L. It really is like a small wagon as opposed to a traditional hatchback.

2019 Kia Cerato GT: Fun factor

You may have experienced this engine before. It’s essentially the same unit that has been powering the Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo for years. In that, we’ve never really liked the sound of the engine. Thankfully, Kia has done something to rectify this in the Cerato GT. From the exhaust outlets you get a smooth, deep note with some faint crackles and pops on the overrun. Beautiful.

From inside the cabin the slightly baritone note is enhanced via speaker trickery. But it’s not too obvious and it is better than the old vacuum-cleaner-like humming sound of the Veloster. The combination of these two really help to boost the enjoyment behind the wheel. We know sound isn’t everything but it definitely helps make the driving more fun if there’s a nice soundtrack to go with it.

Kia has gone to considerable length to push this new model as close to hot hatch territory as possible. Because, the suspension is firm and well-prepared for cornering. You might also notice those 18-inch wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. These tyres are usually applied to performance cars from Germany, and here they provide awesome grip in the corners.

There are three driving modes to choose from, including Comfort, Eco and Smart. Comfort and Eco are self-explanatory, altering the steering weight and throttle sensitivity to suit. However, the Smart mode is a new one we haven’t seen before. As far as we understand it, the car’s brains monitor your driving and it will decide what throttle sensitivity you need. Flicking the gear lever over into S gives you a full Sport mode.

Overall, the fun factor isn’t quite at the level of a full-blown hot hatch. But in saying that, it is much higher than most of the regular-spec rivals. The steering feel is a bit numb to be regarded as a full heated model, and the engine performance, while more than adequate for what it is, just misses the mark in terms of outright speed. Across the 0-100km/h sprint we clocked this example in 7.4 seconds. That’s a neat time and certainly a lot quicker than the regular rivals.

2019 Kia Cerato GT: Should you buy one?

The new Cerato GT is a great little (big) car. It proposes with a hot-hatch-like design for the exterior and interior, while also showcasing some real elegance and prestige. It might not offer the yee-haw speed of a hot hatch, but that makes it more versatile. In that sense, it is the ideal family car that can be shared around and even suitable for learning drivers. With an industry-leading seven-year warranty, this one’s a no-brainer. We give it our full recommendation.

2019 Kia Cerato GT: 0-100km/h video

How does it rate against rivals?
  • Practicality
  • Engine and gearbox
  • Cornering talent
  • Engine sound
  • Value for money
4.2

Final word

With a whopping seven-year warranty, a superb design, and with the punchy performance of turbo power, the new Cerato GT is simply one of the smartest buys in this specific segment. On top of that, you get loads of features all helping to serve up that all-important value-for-money appeal Kia is known for.

Maverick
I like to think that I'm a car fanatic, but more of a driving fanatic. There's nothing better than getting out onto the open road, almost regardless of the car, and enjoying dancing with the controls and gathering up the moving scenery. If I'm not driving I'm either at the gym or sinking a few beers with friends.




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