Strictly from a car enthusiast’s point of view, for the asking price of $50,000, which brand new car buys you over 150bhp and close to 200Nm of torque?
A Suzuki Swift Sport is a tad above $50,000, but it has “just” 125bhp to boot.
Both the Honda Civic Si and the Mitsubishi Lancer EX 2.0 GT have the specific outputs to meet the criteria but they each cost in excess of $70,000.
So, the Cerato Forte 2.0 SX is perhaps the only one that fits the bill.
The engine is a real gem and loves to be revved.
The Cerato Forte test car may have had less than 100km on its odometer but its 2-litre twin-cam powerplant was happy to be flogged to its redline.
Each prod of the throttle was accompanied by a tuneful growl coming from the exhaust.
It is when the engine revs past the 3500rpm mark that the car shows its ground-covering ability.
The acceleration may not be force-you-into-your-seat kind of quick but it seems faster than the 9.3 seconds claimed for the century dash.
The 5-speed manual is a good ally in this situation because it feels positive, even if the throw is a bit on the long side.
The Cerato Forte 2.0 shares the same undercarriage as the 1.6-litre variants, so in terms of handling, it is just as sure-footed and doesn’t shy away from enthusiastic use.
At its limit, it understeers a tad more, and that’s probably due to the weight of the larger engine.
Besides the sweet and punchy engine, the value-for-money price tag also nets you a hoard of factory-fitted options such as a sunroof, cruise control, electronic stability control, climate control system, parking sensor, six airbags, supervision instrumentation meters and nifty-looking 17-inch alloy wheels.
Frankly, this equipment list will not look out of place in a car that costs $100,000.
As a good value-for-money proposition, it is as good as it gets.
2009 Kia Cerato Forte 2.0
ENGINE 1998cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 156bhp at 6200rpm
MAX TORQUE 194Nm at 4300rpm
GEARBOX 5-speed manual
0-100KM/H 9.3 seconds
TOP SPEED 200km/h
PRICE INCL. COE $51,999