Kia Cerato Koup SX 2010 Review

Kia Cerato Koup SX 2010 Review

‘Fortune favours the bold’ is how the old Latin proverb goes and Kia’s new Cerato Koup is attempting to prove a new relevance for the dated sentiment. The two-door coupe is a body shape that many carmakers have dabbled with in the past but in the current economic climate are weary of. Kia has recognised a gap and seen an opportunity to reinforce the message of its Soul model — that Kia now makes design-focused vehicles. The Koup represents Kia’s first foray into the two-door sports car market and while there is little doubt it’s a ballsy move, is it one that will see fortune follow? Car and SUV got the tyres spinning on the low-slung Koup to find out the bottom line.

Exterior styling is without doubt the Koup’s biggest strength and even the harshest badge snob will admit it’s a handsome machine. The Koup is lower, shorter and lighter than the four-door Cerato sedan on which it’s based and shares a single body panel — a scalloped bonnet. The ascending beltline, high rear deck and low roof give the Koup genuine presence and an athletic stance. The aggressive styling kicks off from the front with Kia’s corporate grille sitting above a gaping lower bumper inlet and fog lamps. Out back, flattened rear lights and a pronounced boot lip draw the eye, with a twin exhaust tip blowing out street cred. The sporty look is finished off with bespoke silver/black 17-inch alloys that highlight the black exterior trim. Overall, the Koup’s styling is boldly unique and works as a rolling billboard to inform the world just how far Kia has developed.

Open the frameless doors get inside and you’re cosseted by deeply bolstered sports seats that offer good support and a typically reclined coupe driving position. On our tested high-spec SX model the seats were finished in soft leather with red stitching. The three-spoke steering wheel is also leather-bound and although it’s not pretty it grips well and houses handy cruise and audio control buttons. Interior decor is dark with abundant charcoal plastics broken up by welcome doses of gloss black and silver trim. The instrument cluster is well illuminated in orange but is fairly basic and scant. By comparison the centre control stack is logically thought out and offers separate control screens for audio and climate controls. In terms of quality, the Koup interior feels finished to a decent grade but the contrasting silver trim feels dubious and may not prove hard wearing.

Practicality is too often overlooked in 2-door coupes but it is an area Kia has paid close attention to. The Koup has four cupholders, a large glovebox, two-tier centre storage console/armrest and divided door bins. There is also genuine space for rear occupants with ample legroom and while the roofline restricts rear headroom it’s still livable. Entry and exit to the back seats doesn’t require contortionist abilities either. Equipment level is very good for what’s a budget vehicle and includes 6-speaker 6-disc stereo with full iPod/USB integration, climate air-con, power sunroof, reversing sensors and remote central locking.

If styling is the Koup’s strength the mechanicals working away under the sheet metal would unfortunately be its weakness. It’s a case of a lot of show and just not enough go. The Koup makes use of the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine as the Cerato sedan. Power output is unchanged at 115kW with 194Nm of torque. While it’s a free revving unit, it needs to be worked hard to get the Koup moving with any real haste. With the 0-100kph sprint taking 9.3 seconds (manual) the 16-valve motor simply lacks the power and necessary torque to instigate an exciting driving experience. That said, it’s a capable motor which sounds good thanks to a revised exhaust system but ultimately it can’t follow up on the performance claims made by the Koup’s aggressive styling.

Our tested vehicle was fitted with a 5-speed manual transmission which makes for a better option than the 4-speed auto box but wasn’t without faults. The clutch is tricky to master and the gearstick has a longish throw, further compounding the general underpowered feel. Fuel economy makes for a shining light with the Koup sipping away on just 7.7l/100km of 91RON petrol.

On road, the Koup has solid handling dynamics and although you can’t throw it around like a more expensive sports car it does sit flat in corners with a high level of grip. The suspension is based on the same set-up as the sedan but a thicker front swaybar and a 10mm lower ride height make a difference. The ride is firm, most notably over the rear torsion beam axle but this does inject some much-needed sporty character to the drive. Despite the firm ride there is just enough compliance to allow for relaxed cruising and very little wind or road noise enters the cabin.

When it comes to safety the Koup is well covered for the price with an Electronic Stability Programme, ABS brakes, six airbags and three-point seatbelts for all three back seats.

Like most Kias, value for money is a large part of the appeal and for $33,990 the Koup offers a modern aesthetic and excellent equipment and safety levels. With a 5-year/100,000km warranty backing it up, it’s a tempting prospect.

The bottom line is simple, the Koup’s striking styling and sporty interior will appeal to many but the powertrain will rule out most enthusiasts seeking a spirited drive. It’s a practical coupe with good interior space and is a welcome addition to a sparsely populated market segment. But what the Koup does best is show an end product of Kia’s evolution as a carmaker in the last decade. Now, only time will tell if fortune favours this bold vehicle.

Price: $33,990 (LX model – $27,990)

What we like:

  • Head turning styling
  • Interior space
  • Competent handling
  • Price

What we don’t like:

  • Needs power to back the styling
  • Tricky clutch
  • Some sketchy interior plastics

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Other reviews of interest:

Kia Soul (2009) — Road Test

Kia Cerato SX (2009) — Road Test

Volkswagen Scirocco (2009) — Road Test

Kia Cerato Koup SX (2010) – Specifications

MECHANICAL
Engine type 2.0L DOHC CVVT petrol
Displacement (cc) 1998 cc
Compression ratio 10:5
Max. power 115 kW @ 6200 rpm
Max. torque 194 Nm @ 4300 rpm
Fuel economy (combined cycle) 7.7L / 100km (manual), 7.9L / 100km (automatic)
Co2 emissions (g/km) 183 manual, 186 (automatic)

TRANSMISSION
Gear box 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic with sportshift

SUSPENSION
Front suspension MacPherson strut
Rear suspension CTBA (coupled torsion beam axle)

WHEELS
Tyres 215/45 R17
Braking system Ventilated front discs, solid rear discs
Alloy wheels 17″
Full size spare wheel and tyre

STEERING
Steering system Power assisted rack & pinion with MDPS(motor driven power steering)
Minimum turning radius kerb to kerb (m) 5.37

DIMENSIONS
Overall length 4480 mm
Overall width 1765 mm
Overall height 1400 mm
Wheelbase 2650 mm
Min. ground clearance 155 mm
Kerb weight min. / max 1308 kg
Luggage capacity 336 litres
Fuel tank capacity 52 litres

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