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Kia Cerato GT 2024 review


As hot hatchback popularity continues to fade in the surge of larger SUVs, the Kia Cerato gives a gift to a diminishing sector of the market

Good points

  • Surprisingly punchy 1.6 turbo engine
  • Rewarding and fun chassis
  • Sporty exhaust sound
  • Frugal fuel usage
  • Can run on regular unleaded
  • Comfortable leather sports seats

Needs work

  • Firmer ride around town
  • Interior starting to date
  • Needs a digital instrument cluster
  • Transmission somewhat unrefined
  • Could do with a bit more go-power

The Ford Focus ST – gone. Ford Fiesta ST – gone. Renault Megane RS – also gone. And now, even warm hatches such as the Kia Picanto GT will no longer be produced for the Australian market.

If you’re after a fun hatchback with a mild or wild performance engine up front in 2024, the list of choices is becoming shorter by the day.

And even if you did want a proper hot hatch, some options, like the current Hyundai i30 N, have succumbed to paused orders while factories try to keep up with demand.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 rear 3/4

So where does this leave our test subject, the 2024 Kia Cerato? Well, for starters, it’s not likely that the Cerato will be axed any time soon. It’s expected that a brand new generation of Cerato will arrive sometime this year or perhaps in 2025.

For this review, we have the Cerato performance flagship – the Cerato GT – which is the sportiest Cerato money can buy in Australia.

It’s available in both sedan and hatchback body styles and is currently priced from $36,090 before on-road costs, or roughly $38,390 driveaway in New South Wales. That’s a $4650 premium over the model that sits below it, the Cerato Sport+.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 front 3/4 close

While the Cerato GT is by no means a full-blown hot or hyper hatch like a Honda Civic Type R or Mercedes-AMG A45 S, the Kia hatch competes with other milder small-stature performance cars such as the Suzuki Swift Sport, the Hyundai i30 N-Line and the Volkswagen Golf 110TSI R-Line.

But how well does this Cerato GT drive, ride and feel on the inside? That’s what we are here to find out.

What are the Cerato GT’s features and options for the price?

Being the highest spec of Cerato available locally, the GT is well specced for its relatively low cost of entry. Standard features include the following:

  • 10.25-inch touchscreen
  • 4.2-inch instrument cluster screen
  • Wireless phone charging 
  • Wired Apple Carplay and Android Auto
  • Eight-speaker JBL sound system
  • Satellite navigation
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Leather-appointed seats with ventilation and heating (front)
  • Electric front seat with 8-way driver’s adjustment
  • LED headlights, DRLs and fog lamps
  • Glass sunroof 
  • 3x USB ports 
  • Unique 18-inch alloy wheels 
  • Sports tuned suspension and steering

For our test vehicle, there were no options fitted apart from the Runway Red paint, which costs an additional $520.  

Kia Cerato GT 2024 interior 3

How does the Cerato GT drive?

After driving so many SUVs lately, it was surprisingly refreshing to get behind the wheel of something with some youthful character, which is exactly my style. If only it was manual…

The Cerato GT powers along thanks to a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque.

This engine is paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission exclusively in the GT – the rest of the Cerato range fits a six-speed torque-converter design.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 driving corner 4

Getting in and firing the 1.6-litre four-pot to life brought a surprisingly rorty tone to my basement garage. I quickly adjusted the seat, grasped the leather-wrapped steering wheel and headed out onto the road.

In normal mode, the Cerato GT is relatively quiet and pretty easy to drive. Underneath is a strut front setup with a multi-link rear end, however the Cerato GT’s ride is definitely on the firm side of things, making the rear end feel more like a less-flexible torsion beam setup at times.

Press the drive mode button into sport mode and the Cerato GT wakes up. The revs rise a touch, the throttle response sharpens and the exhaust seems to be more tuneful, even though it goes without a variable valve system.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 engine

Taking off from the traffic lights, the GT is certainly brisk at accelerating, but this car is certainly no hot or hyper hatch. It makes a surprisingly good noise, with small little barks from the exhaust on the upshifts.

If there’s a downmark, it’s getting off the mark from a standstill, which did hamper our test car’s ultimate pace – a reasonably handy 6.71sec 0-100km – during independent testing at our private track.

The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is adequate, but I feel it needs further refinement. While it’s certainly quick shifting, there is some typical DCT hesitancy at low speed, like when slowly entering a driveway, for instance.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 driving

A couple of times, especially when in sport mode, the transmission seemed to want to slip on steeper inclines, which wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience.

You’re able to drive and control the GT through the steering wheel mounted paddles, but I left the transmission in auto-shifting mode for the most part.

But how is the warmed-up Kia when you take it on some back roads?

Kia Cerato GT 2024 driving rear 2

Pushing the Cerato GT through some more spirited corners, the warm hatch has solid levels of grip, however I did find the traction control system to cut in more than I had hoped when powering out of tight corners.

The GT has been clearly set up for this kind of driving more than for city runarounds, and it’s quite rewarding to whip through corners in a spirited fashion. Although the 150kW/265Nm engine won’t knock your socks off, it provides plenty of shove to still have some fun.

It’s thoroughly engaging, and to me that’s what matters in a car like this one.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 driving corner 7

I’m a fast hatch fanboy through and through, and always find it refreshing to get into something much lighter on its feet than a big bruising SUV.

The Cerato’s steering is direct and well-weighted, too, without being ridiculously heavy like you might find in some sporty rivals.

In terms of driving dynamics, the Cerato is 80 percent of the way to earning its GT badge, even if it doesn’t have crazy levels of output from the 1.6-litre turbo engine.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 driving corner rear

Is it more GT than a Kia Picanto GT? Most definitely, but in typical Kia style, the GT means ‘fun factor’ more than outright performance claims. Though, the EV6 GT may have something to say to that nowadays.

I think of the Mazda MX-5 for reference: maximum fun factor where the power and torque outputs aren’t everything.

What is the Cerato GT’s interior and tech like?

Inside the GT variant of the Cerato, things feel pretty premium for the price point. The sports leather seats are supportive and comfortable and you sit nice and low in the cabin, which is a big plus.

These pews are heated and ventilated too, and are electrically adjustable eight ways for the driver.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 interior 2
Kia Cerato GT 2024 interior front seats

The flat-bottom steering wheel feels good in the hands and feels premium, however, in general, I can’t help feeling this interior is due for a refresh, with the climate control dials already starting to look dated in their appearance.

The smaller-size glass sunroof is a nice value-add and helps add light and a sense of spaciousness to the interior. Wireless phone charging and two USB ports feature in the front, also.

Technology wise, up front and centre is a 10.25-inch touchscreen that runs wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with satellite navigation. However, you only get a small 4.2-inch screen in the largely analogue driver’s cluster, which could also do with a bit of a freshen up.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 interior gauges
Kia Cerato GT 2024 interior screen 2

It’s highly likely that the next Cerato will gain a fully-digital cluster, like what is seen in the current generation Kia Seltos small SUV.

The touchscreen itself seems to work pretty well and is clear and easy to use and understand for first-timers. However, the infotainment system is ageing very quickly.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 interior back seat
Kia Cerato GT 2024 interior boot

In the rear seats, occupants gain air vents and a single USB port. Spaciousness in the second row is adequate, however headroom is somewhat restricted with the vehicle being a sloped hatch, rather than the sedan.

The Cerato GT’s boot is 428 litres in capacity, which will be plenty for most people to do the school or shopping run with ease. A space-saver spare wheel is packaged under the floor..

Is the Cerato GT a safe car?

The Kia Cerato was tested by Australia’s automotive safety authority ANCAP in 2019 where some variants, including the GT, received a five star safety rating.

The vehicle scored 90 percent for adult occupant protection, 83 percent for child occupant protection, 72 percent for vulnerable road user protection and 73 percent for safety assist.

Kia Cerato ANCAP

As standard, the Kia Cerato GT is fitted with the following systems:

  • AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Rear cross traffic alert 
  • Lane keep assist 
  • Driver attention alert 
  • Speed limiter 
  • front, front side and curtain airbags 
  • Blind spot detection 
  • Reversing camera 
  • Front and rear parking sensors 

Generally, the Cerato GT’s safety systems work as they should, however the lane keep assist can be a little over dramatic at times and isn’t tuned particularly well. 

Annoyingly, the speed camera alert through the satellite navigation can get tiring at times, especially when it blocks off your Apple CarPlay or Android Auto music streaming to let you know. Thankfully, this can be switched off in the settings. 

What are the Cerato GT’s ownership costs?

Over a five year period, the Kia Cerato GT will cost $1913 to service with Kia’s capped price servicing. Service intervals are every 12 months or a short 10,000 kilometres.

Every Kia Cerato is covered by the company’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 badge

In terms of fuel usage, the Kia Cerato GT has a claimed combined fuel economy of 6.8L/100km, however in our week of testing, we got closer to 7.0L/100km combined.

The Cerato GT has a 50 litre fuel tank and can take regular unleaded petrol, which is surprising considering its turbocharged performance nature.

The honest verdict on the Cerato GT

It’ll be a slightly sadder world when hot (and warm) ICE-powered hatchbacks become extinct. In Australia, we have seen the demise of several fun hatchbacks, but Kia is holding strong with the Cerato GT.

Kia’s warm performance hatch isn’t perfect, that’s for certain. But what it does do is provide affordable fun in a practical city car package.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 interior 2 close

It might not have the best ride in the segment and is starting to date inside, but the core fundamentals of the GT are all there: it’s fun to drive, sporty, characterful and is surprisingly dynamic in the twisties.

It’s also one of the better sounding 1.6-litre turbocharged engines out there with enough rortiness to keep you entertained without being as loud and brash as a Hyundai i30 N.

I just wish it rode a little better around town, which I wasn’t expecting knowing that the multi-link rear suspension may hide its weak points.

Kia Cerato GT 2024 front 2

All in all, the Cerato GT is a fun package, and if you bought one, you’d be largely happy with its premium feel, high levels of specification and good looks.

The ride, hesitant dual-clutch transmission and some ageing interior tech are really the three main areas where growth is needed.

The Cerato GT is a gentle reminder to enjoy warm hatches while they are still here living, breathing and driving.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs

Variant tested GT

Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

1591 cc
150kW at 6000rpm
265Nm at 1500rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
50 litres
6.8L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
735km (claimed)
Front Wheel Drive
4510 mm
1800 mm
1445 mm
Unoccupied weight
1395 kg

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