The Kia Cerato small sedan is designed for downsizers looking for big features.

Buyers of small sedans have a new choice to consider in the latest Kia Cerato. It’s an all-new, third-generation of the Korean maker’s most successful model which has sold more than 2.5 million around the world since its introduction in 2004.

Continuing a tradition of value for money, Cerato pricing starts at $19,990 for a range that can be compared for size and features against more mainstream models such as the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and Holden Cruze.

For now, the Cerato comes only as a sedan, but a hatchback is promised for later in the year. While there are similarities under the skin to its sibling from parent company Hyundai, the Kia Cerato has completely different body and interior designs, equipment specifications and, importantly, the suspension set-up that dictates the way it drives.

Kia makes much of the investment it puts into ‘Australian-ising’ its cars, understanding what some other manufacturers haven’t – that our roads and driving conditions are unique. Consequently, Kias have developed a good reputation among testers for their driveability, banishing one of the major stigmas that used to come with Korean cars. The new Cerato is longer, lower and wider than the outgoing model, with a wheelbase that now matches that of the Sorento SUV. Kia claims the car features improved quality, more convenience and safety features, a roomier cabin, improved driving refinement and upgraded powertrains that deliver class-leading fuel economy.

Kia says the car is designed to appeal to a growing number of motorists who are downsizing their cars but still want good space and equipment.

Three trim/equipment levels are available – S, Si and SLi. Even the basic model comes with a long list of gear that, not long ago, would have been considered “luxury”, such as air-conditioning, CD player, Bluetooth phone connectivity, parking sensors, central locking, power windows, electronic stability control and fog lights. The range-topping SLi Cerato includes an LCD electronic instrument display and satellite navigation in its standard specification.

There is a choice of two petrol engines, but for now, no diesel. A “base” 1.8 engine delivers 110 kiloWatts and average fuel consumption of 6.6 litres per 100km in the official test. A 2.0 litre, with sophisticated direct injection, comes with 129kW and consumption of 7.4 litres/100km.

The Cerato has earned a 4-star ANCAP crash safety rating.

Prices quoted do not include statutory and dealer on-road charges unless otherwise stated. Prices correct at time of writing.