South Korean carmaker Kia calls it the “Anzac pack”, the suspension/steering set-up its engineers devised for the irregular surfaces on New Zealand and Australian roads.
The package was put together largely to make its cars sit flatter through both countries’ mix of good and bad surfaces.
It involves changes to suspension spring rates and stabiliser bars, and, in the case of the large Optima sedan, the choice of a hydraulic-powered rack-and-pinion steering system over the electric set-up offered in other markets.
Former Toyota Australia engineer Graeme Gambold – a consultant to the Snow Farm proving ground near Wanaka – and New Zealand technician Nick Reid did the spadework.
The first Kia model to get the Downunder treatment was the Sportage crossover. The Optima sedan was next, followed by the Cerato sedan in May this year.
Now the Cerato hatchback gets the revisions, along with the Flex-Steer variable steering system borrowed from the Cerato sedan launched here in May.
It’s an electric-based system rather than an hydraulic one, and was chosen – like all electric racks – to provide fuel savings, in this case of up to 3 per cent.
It offers three levels of weight – comfort, normal and sport – via a button on the steering wheel. The difference between comfort and normal modes is negligible; sport, however, certainly firms up the helm.
The five-door Cerato shares the sedan’s interior – almost everything is identical. Step inside and there is an immediate impression of roominess, thanks in part to the cabin-forward design and an expansive dash.
The hatchback is 30mm longer, 5mm wider and has a 50mm-longer wheelbase than its predecessor, but the 1460mm height remains the same. Front and rear overhangs are shorter. Kia says it is the only car in the C-segment with front/rear parking sensors.
The five-door Cerato is available in three trim levels – LX, EX, SX – and nine colours. Engines are a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol unit delivering 110kW/178Nm, or a 2-litre that puts out 129kW/209Nm. Both are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions. Kia claims fuel town-and-around economy of 7.1-7.4 litres/100km.
The LX starts at $29,990, the EX at $33,490, the SX at $37,490, and the 2-litre SX at $40,490. Both SX cars get satellite-navigation as standard.
Both the Cerato hatchback and sedan carry a maximum five-star safety rating.