Parkers overall rating: 2 out of 5 2.0

The hatchback is available with a 1.6 petrol engine which generates a respectable 103bhp. This is the base unit, with a 0-62mph time of 11 seconds and a top speed of 115mph. It's a bit rough around the edges and needs to be worked very hard, but can still deliver 43mpg. A newer 1.5 CRDi diesel - Kia's first - with 101bhp joined the line up in November 2004.

It's better than the petrol with decent in-gear pace, but it's not particularly refined and becomes coarse when revved hard.

Kia has put a lot of effort into trying to make the Cerato more refined than its previous models and they have succeeded in giving it a reasonable ride and keeping the bumps and vibrations largely at bay. Insulation against noise could be better and the handling is predictable but unexciting. The steering is light and the gearchanges can be slow too.