Kia Cerato S

Indicative drive away price: $19,990

There is no denying that the drive-away price of the Cerato S had a strong bearing on results this year.

At $19,990 for either the manual or automatic, hatchback or sedan, Cerato is a very attractive proposition. But there certainly is more to this value story. Kia has an industry-leading seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty as well as a capped-price servicing up to 105,000km. That’s peace of mind that is very hard to beat.

Cerato S comes with a 2.0-litre engine which uses regular unleaded fuel and has a claimed fuel consumption of 7.1 litres/100km and provides drive through a six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. The Korean manufacturer has been producing its own engines and transmissions for some time now with favourable success in regards to durability and efficiency. This allows Kia to match engines and transmissions to suit the platform they are made for, reducing the reliance on other manufacturers and having to just make do with what is available.

On the road, Cerato efficiently tackles urban commuting but is flexible enough for longer highway journeys. Reasonable power is available with 112kW backed up by 192Nm of torque, and for most driving situations Cerato gets around without any fuss at all thanks to the smooth and precise-shifting auto. And for those drivers who like to be more involved in the experience, the S model is also the only variant in the Cerato range that is available with the option of a six-speed manual.

Cerato backs up its value for money numbers with consistent scoring for space, practicality, comfort and equipment. The S version does lack some driver interaction features such as a touch-screen control centre, which also accounts for the absence of a reversing camera. To gain these items, which are starting to become standard equipment in other models in this category, you’ll need to opt for the $500 AV upgrade; it’s hard to argue why you wouldn’t at this price point.

Yet one thing the S does supply, which you don’t find as standard too often in this category, is a front parking sensor system as well as for the rear. And it’s great to see a compatible spare wheel in the boot.

Australia’s Best Cars awards assess the best-selling variant in any model line-up, and significantly the Cerato S is the entry model. So even though Cerato’s three better-specified versions feature things such as higher comfort levels and infotainment system and some extra safety equipment, the S version is clear proof that a very good purchase price is a fantastic starting point for a small car.

But that’s not trying to downplay the credentials of our class-winning Cerato S. The $20,000 threshold has always been a consideration for buyers in the small car category, with

more potentially looking here who traditionally may have driven something larger. Cerato S is a very good example of the kind of value that buyers are finding in the Small car segment today.

SCORE

1ST: KIA CERATO S, 762

2ND: FORD FOCUS TREND, 754

3RD: MAZDA3 MAXX, 750