A recent report from kia motors stated the Korean manufacturer had just experienced a record-breaking month for sales and exports in june2004, despite a downturn in its own domestic market. Exports of CBU (complete built unit) exceeded 70000 for the first time ever, and the June 2004 performance represented an increase of 46 per cent over the same month in 2003.
Dramatic increase in many other markets like USA, China, UK, Australia, and Europe mean that Kia can claim to be the fastest growing brand in these markets.
Perhaps, this level of worldwide performance is not too surprising when one consider the range of passenger vehicles now being produced by Kia Motors. The executive class opirus, the Sorento 4 x 4 and the baby Rio are good examples of a range of well-designed and quality built vehicles.
I must confess that Kia and South Korea had never really featured strongly on my shopping lists of models. I might buy, in past years. Having just enjoyed 24 hours with the spirited Kia Cerato that omission may well change in the future.
The Kia Cerato is a C-class sedan and that puts it in the same category as the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sunny and Honda Civic – three formidable Japans competitors for the new Korean model in GCC market.
The new Cerato models replace the old Kia Sephia and Shuma model in the brand’s line-up of passenger cars. Cerato is a five-seater with ample space for all.
Its overall design has a distinctly western and European flavor and the concept will certainly appeal in those markets. Its name has an Italianate sound to it and in Rome and Milan it will almost surely be pronounced ‘Sherato’. The car is well balanced with its relatively long wheelbase and short overhangs, front and rear. The standard 15-inch diameter wheels give it a degree with authority that would be lacking if smaller wheel were fitted. The optional 16-inch diameter alloy wheel make the car look even better.
The Cerato has a decidedly sporty look with a neat downward slopping hood meeting the front grille and brand motif. The large lamp units are nicely blended into the fenders and front bumper that also acts as a spoiler. The overall appearance is quite stylish and sophisticated and thankfully devoid of quirky styling cues that have been present on some other models. From far eastern manufacturers.
Cerato comes as a 4-door sedan or as a 5-door hatchback and these different body style offer a choice between 1.6 liter and a 2-litre, 4-cylinder, in-line, DOHC, petrol engines. It is a front wheel drive car and offers transmission choices between a 5-speed manual and a 4 speed automatic gearbox. Front suspension uses the tried and trusted Macpherson strut system and at the rear is a multi-link axle locating system. All Cerato models have ventilated front disc brake.