2023 Kia Cerato SX 1.6 Smartstream review: The stream of sensibility

2023 Kia Cerato SX 1.6 Smartstream review: The stream of sensibility
PHOTO: Motorist

In an era where the world’s governments are clamping down on carbon emissions, manufacturers have had to chase seemingly marginal gains in order to make their offerings ever more efficient.

Our government incentivises greener cars, offering generous Vehicle Emission Scheme (VES) rebates for vehicles that are less polluting. It encourages automakers to transplant newer and greener powertrains into their existing offerings, and is a relatively low-effort way of creating more attractive packages for the end consumer.

Which is exactly what Kia has done with their popular Cerato saloon, swapping the existing 1.6 litre Gamma four pot, for a newer engine with the same capacity.

What has changed?

Most significantly, the car now costs significantly less than the original variant. The greater efficiency means it now qualifies for VES A2, versus the original car's B banding. In monetary terms, the car will now be at least $15,000 cheaper than its predecessor.

You'll also find a new transmission coupled to its Smart stream engine. Yes, transmission, because a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) really isn't a gearbox. As this is purely a mechanical update, there are no visual changes to the exterior, or interior, of the vehicle. On an equipment front, you can no longer have a Grand Tourer-Line car (GT-Line car), the range-topper is now the Standard Extra (SX variant). The base Extra (EX) model will still be available for purchase.

Realistically though, with the equipment levels Kia has bestowed upon the SX, you'd really not need a higher-specified variant.

What's inside?

The interior has remained unchanged, save for the lack of an optional electronic handbrake. Aside from the Adaptive Cruise Control that comes included with the GT-Line car, the cabin is identical to the Gamma-engined Cerato it replaces.

The SX trim also receives a lot of the features that were standard issue on the outgoing GT-Line car. Ventilated and electronically adjustable seats, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay are the most notable inclusions, especially considering the price point.

On the go

As expected, the biggest difference is on the go. This is a car that doesn’t like to be rushed - a calm approach to motoring will not aggravate the CVT, making for a much more pleasant experience behind the wheel.

With 121 bhp on tap, it's clear that this is no sports car. And that's not a bad thing, for it does the job of being a bread-and-butter car very well. When driven sensibly, NVH levels are kept fairly low, with the added benefit of this driving style being fuel economy figures of 15 km/l.

A sensible package that will be easy on the wallet

There’s no complex hybrid drivetrain in the car, so you do not have to worry about battery pack longevity. It certainly also doesn't spur you on to drive spiritedly, as it clearly has been built to serve the needs of a sensible family man.

What you're getting for your money is a well-made vehicle, loaded to the gills with all the kit you'd ever want, and with all the space that you'd ever need. In an era where automakers are chasing sportier driving dynamics and ever bigger levels of power, the Kia Cerato is a refreshing change of pace, and could just be the right fit for you, if you are looking for a good value, mainstream saloon!

ALSO READ: 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line review: Redefining convention

This article was first published in Motorist.

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