2021 Kia Cerato facelift launched in Korea – revised design, new tech and driver assists, same engines

Revealed in official photos last month, the facelifted Kia Cerato has now been launched in its home market of South Korea, where it’s known as the K3. The C-segment sedan gets mild revisions inside and out and some new tech, but is unchanged mechanically.

As we saw in the previous images, the new look is still recognisably Cerato, albeit with a more modern spin to it. The front end has been redesigned to emphasise the visual width, with the “tiger nose” grille now leading into the headlights. The latter come with six “dashes” on each side that are said to embody a sense of speed, replacing the Porsche-style four-point daytime running lights of the outgoing model.

The bumpers have also been re-profiled – the front fascia features a more distinct cross shape inspired by the “wings of a fighter”, courtesy of the wider centre air intake incorporating diagonal LED fog lights. The indicators, previously located in the corner inlets, have now been integrated into the DRLs.

2021 Kia Cerato facelift launched in Korea – revised design, new tech and driver assists, same engines

At the rear of the car, the taillights mirror the “dash” graphic of the headlights, which extend into the red centre bar connecting the lamps. The rear diffuser-like design is shaped like the “tiger nose” grille and is flanked by reshaped indicator and reverse lights, still mounted on the bumper. All Kia badges have been updated to the latest word mark, including in the interior.

Inside, the changes are limited to two new 10.25-inch displays – one for the instrument cluster, the other for the UVO navigation system (replacing the previous eight-inch touchscreen). The infotainment controls have also been moved into the freestanding centre display panel, while the previous mechanical handbrake has been replaced by an electronic parking brake, freeing up space for a small storage compartment behind it.

New convenience features include remote engine start, over-the-air software updates, last-mile navigation information, vehicle location sharing and a Kia Pay service for parking and fuel. Safety-wise, the Cerato has been upgraded with Highway Driving Assistance (HDA) Level 2 semi-autonomous driving, incorporating adaptive cruise control and lane centring assist. Also added are cyclist detection for autonomous emergency braking, reverse AEB, a door opening warning and a rear seat reminder.

2021 Kia Cerato facelift launched in Korea – revised design, new tech and driver assists, same engines

The mechanicals have been left well alone, with the standard engine choice remaining a Smartstream G1.6 MPI naturally-aspirated four-cylinder making 123 PS at 6,300 rpm and 154 Nm at 4,500 rpm, sent to the front wheels through a CVT.

For extra pep, you’ll have to shell out for the GT five-door hatch, which gets a direct-injected turbo mill producing 204 PS at 6,000 rpm and 265 Nm from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm, as well as a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The facelift has added red highlights on the honeycomb grille mesh and front fog light surrounds, while the rear end is unchanged from the outgoing model and features twin exhaust exits.

The pre-facelift Cerato was due to enter Malaysia some time ago, but the uncertainty of the Kia brand under Naza complicated things a little bit. Now that the dust is settling on the transition to new distributor Dinamikjaya Motors (under parent company Bermaz), perhaps we can hope for the sedan to reenter the market in facelifted form?