The entry-level Kia Cerato is a disappointment, but can the GT model redeem the Cerato name? Spoiler alert: yes, it definitely can.

What is it?

The 2022 Kia Cerato GT is the top dog in the Cerato family. With a price of $36,990 drive-away regardless of whether you go for the hatch on test here or the available sedan body style, the GT costs around $9,000 more than the base Cerato S I drove – and it feels it. So much so, in fact, it feels like an entirely different car.

Whereas lower grade models utilise a ropey 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine, the GT hosts a more powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged unit paired with a dual-clutch transmission. It also includes all the safety kit usually reserved for the optional $1500 safety pack in lower trim levels such as autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, and safe exit warning as standard, plus plenty more in the way of niceties.

Why are we testing it?

Drive Section’s founder and editor, Patrick Jackson, reviewed the Cerato GT sedan late last year and deemed it “one of the best-value buys on the market.” The responsibility fell on me to see if the hatchback version rocks the boat too much to disrupt the winning formula. (Hint: it doesn’t.)

What differences are there between the hatch and sedan?

Unlike the sedan, the GT hatch benefits from the inclusion of an under-floor storage box, luggage net hooks, a parcel shelf, and an auto-reverse wiper. Otherwise, it’s practically identical – aside from the rear styling, that is.

Captain Jackson declared the sedan to be the better looking of the two. He’s wrong. If you buy the sedan, you are essentially declaring to the world that you cannot afford a Stinger. The hatch, meanwhile, looks very much its own thing.

What’s it like on the inside?

The interior is a HUGE step up in quality and design compared to the base Cerato S. You first notice the brilliant leather sport seats and the billboard-spec 10.25-inch HD touch screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, though require a wired connection – surprisingly, wireless smartphone mirroring is something the S model holds over it.

Bolstering the GT’s tech-appeal, wireless phone charging and an impressive suite of JBL speakers are also included. With the bass boosted, the JBL speakers are tenfold better than the lacklustre system found in the Cerato S, which isn’t saying much, to be fair. My old iPhone 3GS had better speakers than that car.

Kia has also given the GT a small sunroof. I would normally appreciate such an inclusion – I love me some Vitamin D – but in this instance, it eats up precious headroom meaning my hair was constantly smothered against the roof. Even the back seats are usable for anyone under 190cm, however, and the Cerato GT does include rear air vents, a USB point, and an armrest with cupholders for those sat back there.

Kia cites a smaller 428 litres of cargo space for the Cerato hatch compared to the sedan’s 502 litres – however, being a hatch, this space is actually more usable as it can accommodate much taller items, making it the better option for those constantly needing to throw things back there.

What’s it like to drive?

The Cerato GT’s 1.6 litre turbocharged four-cylinder is rather vocal on start-up and sounds infinitely more tasty than the 2.0-litre unit found elsewhere in the Cerato range. It is also considerably more powerful, producing a healthy 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm from 1500-4500rpm. With all that power sent to the front wheels, the GT will happily invoke the traction control system during spirited sprints, particularly in the wet where it’ll try spin its tyres all the way into third gear.

Acceleration is fairly impressive with a claimed 0-100km/h time of just 7.0 seconds – not exactly breakneck fast, however, the average person will undoubtedly find it exciting. In Sport mode, the GT’s speakers emit a pleasingly exaggerated growl that certainly amplifies the sense of speed and excitement. Yes, it’s fake, but I thought it to be enticing nonetheless… right up until the point when the speakers started distorting.

The GT features specific sports-tuned steering and suspension, even sporting multi-link rear suspension where all other variants feature a torsion beam. This makes the GT a genuine joy to pilot in the twisties – the steering might still be a little heavy for my liking, but it goes quite some way to improving on the utterly rubbish system found in the Cerato S. It’s less lethargic, more confidence-inspiring, and doesn’t spring back to centre with the same wrist-snapping abandon. These are very good things.

Furthermore, while the GT’s suspension system seems maybe a touch too viagra-laced, it copes with even the worst of Australia’s shoddy road surfaces surprisingly well. Grip levels are high thanks the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres its 18-inch alloys are shod in, and even when pushed, the GT remained impressively neutral and resistant to understeer.

In everyday use, its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is perfectly fine. However, when the going gets hot it can struggle to quickly dish out gears, particularly on downshifts. I did also found the GT to be somewhat under-braked – when pushing, the GT fails to deliver the stopping power to match the stomp of the engine. Intending on regularly driving your GT beyond seven-tenths? Invest in some uprated pads at the very least.

How do the numbers stack up?

The Cerato GT benefits from Kia’s seven-year unlimited-kilometre warranty, complemented by seven years of capped price servicing – pricing for that averages out at $462 per visit, although the intervals are a shorter 12-month/10,000km period for the Cerato GT like all Kia’s other turbocharged petrol models. Throw in a 5-star ANCAP safety rating and you have a brilliant ownership proposition.

There are no hidden surprises with the price, either, as Kia cites drive-away pricing up front. At $36,990 out the door, plus $520 for premium paint, the on-roads are all factored in, helping it undercut similarly-specified rival models.

The GT can sip regular unleaded petrol – although you’re realistically better off running the turbo donk on premium – and will use as little as 6.8L/100km. That’s better than the 2.0-litre unit found in lesser models, and this is the performance version. I saw a return of 9.0L/100km, however, after over 800km of – ahem – enthusiastic driving.

So, what’s the verdict?

At $36,990 drive-away the 2022 Kia Cerato GT hatch represents terrific value for money. Not just a pretty face, the GT is an impressive performer that will be a joy to use every day.

It might not be perfect – the suspension is a little too stiff and the steering still too heavy, for my liking – but overall, it is a brilliant all-rounder that goes some way to vindicating the sins of the lesser S model. If you can stretch your budget, it’s more than worth the upgrade.


2022 Kia Cerato GT Hatch Drive-Away Price: $36,990 | As Tested: $37,510
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Ride & Handling - 8/10
  • 8.5/10
    Tech & Features - 8.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Practicality - 8.5/10
  • 9/10
    Value for Money - 9/10
8.4/10

Pros: Plenty of grunt, competent and dialled-in chassis, generous standard kit, strong value for money
Cons: The ride is a little too stiff, the gearbox can be slow to downshift, brakes aren’t up to snuff

In a nutshell: Unlike its lesser siblings, the 2022 Kia Cerato GT hatch isn’t just an enticing on-paper proposition – it’s enticing full stop. A cracking all-rounder, brilliant value for money, and a decisive win for the Korean marque. 



Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Kia Motors Australia for one week with a full tank of fuel and all toll costs covered.

Noah Charalambous
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