Review: KIA Cerato (2004 – 2006)


Practical, well-equipped cabin and a good-sized boot. Decent motorway cruiser.

Concerns over crash test ratings.

Recently Added To This Review

22 February 2004

New four door saloon, five door hatch, replacing Shuma from May 2004, from around £9,000. ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. LX and EX spec. On hatchback, rear seat cushion and backrest are split 60/40;... Read more

KIA Cerato (2004 – 2006): At A Glance

Three things instantly identify any car from South Korea: the indicator switch will be on the right; it will have a horribly fiddly DIN fit radio; and the plastic inside will stink.

However, the Cerato is a neat, distinctive car that looks good from any angle rather than the conflicting mish-mash or all pervading blandness that can sometime emerge from Korea. It's style won't simply disappear into the forgettable like so many of its and Hyundai's forbears.

What does a KIA Cerato (2004 – 2006) cost?

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KIA Cerato (2004 – 2006): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4340–4480 mm
Width 1735 mm
Height 1470 mm
Wheelbase 2610 mm

Full specifications

And, in the £11,999 2.0SE saloon you get a lot of kit, including a/c and leather. First impression is the smell. Why does the inside of every South Korean have to be such a nightmare to the nose? Get used to that and, looking around, you find nice, big dials (the speedo is enormous), lots of stowage space including cupholders, trays and a split-level armrest. Three proper three point belts across the back seat. 60/40 folding back seats. Height-adjustable steering wheel and driver's seat, but no lumbar adjustment.

Get going and apart from the indicators being on the right it's a painless experience. At least the steering has a bit of meat to it. Switch on the radio. Er, how do you switch on the radio? None of the obvious big knobs do the job. So you have to stop and pull out the half-inch thick radio instruction manual to learn that the little curved button at the top left corner is the on/off switch, which must be pressed to switch on or pressed and held for more than a second to switch off.

And if you want to insert a CD you have to fold down the front. And in press cars there's usually a note requesting you to remove the front when you park, but you haven't got anywhere to put it so you don't. Why do the South Koreans and persist with irritating ICE? Why can't they build it in? If Toyota can even for its Thai market cars, why can't Kia?

Child seats that fit a KIA Cerato (2004 – 2006)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the KIA Cerato (2004 – 2006) like to drive?

On the motorway it thrums along very well. At motorway cruising speeds you sit on a very pleasing part of the power curve that gives enough acceleration without strain or excess noise. It's a very good cruiser. Not much wind noise either. All you hear are the tyres. Gearing worked out at about 23.5 mph per 1,000 rpm, about the same as a Ford Focus 1.6. Back road handling is fine. No brilliant, but not bad either. Nothing to criticise there. The steering still feels meaty enough too.

Ceratos come in two body styles: the good looking saloon and the less good looking hatchback. The hatch is the poorer relation, starting at £9,750, the same as a run-out model Ford Focus Flight with CD and a/c. Saloons kick off at £10,500 for the 1.6LX and end abruptly at the £11,995 141bhp 2.0SE. So there's only £2,245 between the cheapest and the most expensive.

Obviously at £11,995, the 2.0SE sells on value. Its basic list price is the same as a heavily discounted 2.0 litre Mondeo or Vectra. And that's where buyers should hit decision time.

But they won't. They'll be impressed by the Cerato's looks, equipment, performance and showroom value for money. They'll like its neat dimensions that will fit their garages. They'll love the luxury of leather seats in a car for less than £12,000. And they'll buy it in droves.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.5 CRDi 58 mpg 12.5 s 128–129 g/km
1.6 40–42 mpg 11.0 s 165–167 g/km
2.0 38 mpg 9.0 s 180 g/km

Real MPG average for a KIA Cerato (2004 – 2006)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

35–61 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the KIA Cerato (2004 – 2006)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What is the real mpg for a KIA Cerato used as a taxi?

I'm buying a 2006 petrol KIA Cerato 1.6. Can you let me know the mpg on all local stop and start driving as it will be a taxi?
Not in Real MPG and we didn't record it in our test: Officially 41.7mpg, but used stop start as a taxi, probably about 30mpg.
Answered by Honest John
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