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Good looks, good value
THREE years into its model life, the Kia Cerato Forte K3 has been refreshed with minor tweaks that taken together, should allow it to hold its own against more expensive competitors.
This Korean compact sedan has always represented value for money without looking low-rent and the latest version is no different. On the outside, there are redesigned head and tail lamps as well as a re-profiled bonnet and new rear bumper. The most obvious change is the addition of two vertical air intakes at each corner of the front bumper for a sharper mien.
The powertrain is unchanged, with a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
What has changed is the introduction of a new Drive Mode Select (DMS) system with three selectable modes - eco, normal and sport. In sport mode, the steering is beefier and upshifts are delayed to eke more out of the 130 hp and 157 Nm available.
The DMS button on the lower centre console replaces the FlexSteer power-adjustable steering feature, whose three modes were previously chosen with a button on the steering wheel.
A digital speedo feature is now found in the multi-function display. Also new is the front passenger's seat ventilation. Previously, only the driver got to cool his behind.
Apple CarPlay and a blind spot detection function are also available. What is standard, however, is the Smart Trunk System, which opens automatically when the smart key is in the detection area for at least three seconds.
This useability epitomises the Kia Cerato Forte K3. It may not have the oomph of a turbocharged competitor but it does what it does well considering its price point.
On the road, it has a happy blend of body control and ride comfort. The handling is neutral and the cabin ambience is surprisingly refined. With its generous 2,700 mm wheelbase, rear legroom is also good as the virtually flat floor adds to the spaciousness.
It isn't often that good looks and utility come together to offer good value.
Kia Cerato Forte K3
Engine: 1,591cc inline-4
Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission
Max power: 130 hp @ 6,300 rpm
Max torque: 157 Nm @ 4,850 rpm
0-100 kmh: 12.1 secs
Top speed: 195 kmh
CO2 emissions: 160 g/km
Average OMV: S$14,000
Price from: S$94,999 (with COE)
Distributor: Cycle & Carriage Kia