Kia took the wraps off one of its most important and highest-selling models – the 2019 Kia Cerato – at the 2018 North American International Auto Show. Called Forte in North American market, the new model is to land in Australia halfway through the year.
Only the Cerato sedan has been revealed thus far, with the hatchback variant – apparently to be shared with the European Cee’d – to be revealed in due course. Like the previous generation Australia will receive both bodystyles, including a hotter GT mode, though the Cerato Koup is understood to be off the table for this generation.
“The compact sedan segment is highly competitive, but with all the improvements the new Forte brings to market for the 2019 model year, it is more than prepared to take on the toughest the segment has to offer,” said Kia U.S. VP, Orth Hedrick.
“As one of our top-selling models, the all-new Forte follows some large footsteps, but enhancements in styling, packaging and content make it even more attractive to drivers seeking a compact sedan that can accommodate their versatile lifestyle.”
Whilst the 2019 Kia Cerato appears familiar, its design has taken a large step forward and now appears much more modern and aggressive than the previous generation of Cerato. This is most obvious with the new front end with its long bonnet – Kia is trying to echo the larger Stinger here. Kia’s corporate Tiger Nose grille features proudly at the front, with some sleek headlights and low-mounted indicators next to an aggressive and front air intake.
The side profile of the 2019 Kia Cerato takes a lot from the Stinger as well – it’s lower and more coupe-like than ever before, though Kia is keen to stress that its headroom is still plentiful. The rear end of the 2019 Cerato is larger and more upmarket-looking than before, though curiously both the indicators and reversing lights appear to be mounted on the lower bumper.
The interior of the 2019 Kia Cerato is like the exterior – a big improvement on the fussy previous model. The layout is much more modern and like the exterior, takes from the larger Stinger. The infotainment system sits proudly atop the dashboard with screens available up to 8.0-inches, shortcut buttons sitting below and centrally-mounted air-vents that appear to be taken from the Hyundai i30, a car that shares the Cerato’s platform. These are matched by soft-touch materials and some rather attractive circular side air-vents that appear much more upmarket than many of the competitors that the Cerato competes with.
Like the new Hyundai Veloster, the 2019 Kia Cerato will be made available with new equipment, such as a 320-watt Harman Kardon stereo system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, Qi inductive phone charging, as well as active safety equipment such as lane keep assist and radar cruise control.
Whilst the interior and exterior of the 2019 Kia Cerato are a big step forward for the brand, the available drivetrains may not be. In Australia, we’re expected to receive the same engine as the last Cerato – the older 112kW/192Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine that also features in entry-level versions of the Hyundai i30, matched to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. In time, Kia is expected to add a GT variant to the Cerato range, which will reportedly use the same 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine as the Veloster Turbo, i30 SR and European Pro_cee’d GT, with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic – the North American Cerato currently offers this engine.
The 2019 Kia Cerato is expected to land in Australia before the halfway point of this year, with the hatchback equivalent – expected to be revealed in Geneva in March as it is expected to be sold as the Cee’d in Europe – landing in the fourth quarter of the year. Kia Australia has told local media that pricing of the new model is unlikely to change dramatically, though more features are expected to be fitted as standard, such as autonomous emergency braking.
Stay tuned to Chasing Cars for more news from the 2018 North American International Auto Show.