SEOUL, KOREA – It seems that hardly a week passes without Kia launching some or other new model. Not surprising as the brand is planning to launch 47 all-new or refreshed models over the next four years – quite a feat.
Earlier this year, the company debuted the all-new Cerato saloon, a car that we’ve already tested and left us impressed. Later this week, South African buyers will be able to get a look in at hatchback variant of the same car. And within a few months, the Koup derivative will be seen locally.
I took a series of long-haul flights to drive the newcomer on its home soil in Korea.
As with the last model the Koup is a handsome car. In this new guise, the model has lost some of the angular aspects of its forebear, which is unfortunate as those traits lent that car a really aggressive demeanour with an identity all of its own.
Koup 2.0 has adopted the family face as seen across the Cerato range. It also boasts a slimmed down version of the brand’s tiger-nose treatment, which is seen across all models. To help further differentiate the two-door model there is a larger lower air dam with central bar that acts as a number plate holder. Oversized, swept-back headlamps and detailed foglamps complete the frontal aspect nicely.
The profile has a beautiful rising waistline, creating a slant-forward look, and the lower half of the doors/rear fender has the bowed line as seen across all Cerato models. 16-, 17- or 18-inch alloys (to be decided by Kia SA ahead of the local introduction) set up the stance.
Viewed from behind, the Koup keeps most of what made the last model so distinctive: the high boot line and angular taillamps that stretch over onto the boot. A mock diffuser finishes off the large bumper.
It’s a handsome package that will definitely stand out from most other C-segment offerings.
Kia states that the Koup has grown by 50 mm in length, all of which is found between the axle lines. Time in the cabin proved that the car does indeed feel larger. More so than in prime competitors, which I shall get to later, you would consider using the rear bench to seat adults even for longer journeys.
Trying to make it more of a “driver’s car”, the Koup’s facia has been angled ever so slightly towards the driver. The rake-and-reach adjustable steering wheel has a good range but the electrically adjustable driver’s seat doesn’t drop low enough for my liking, and I am not the tallest guy around.
Quality levels seem to increase with each successive Kia model and that holds true here as well. However, although better than before, it doesn’t match up to the best in class just yet.
Under the skin
Like the saloon and hatch derivatives the Koup has a MacPherson strut front and torsion-beam rear-suspension arrangement.
More notable is the inclusion of an all-new engine for this family. Kia decided to launch the Koup with a 1,6-litre turbocharged motor. The direct-injection unit produces 150 kW and 265 N.m developed between 1 750 and 4 500 r/min.
Power is transferred to the front wheels by either an automatic or manual transmission, both featuring six speeds. Claimed fuel consumption is 6,9 litres/100 km in the combined cycle (7,2 for the automatic).
On the road
Korean roads, especially those in and around Seoul, are extremely well maintained/made and therefore do not trouble a cars suspension too much. Outside the urban confines when travelling out towards Korea’s many mountains the stiff nature of the rear layout makes itself felt.
Kia is quite proud of the new engine that the Koup comes fitted with (the same one that all SA models will boast), and indeed a car of this nature with these levels of power and torque should make it a somewhat entertaining drive.
Sadly, that fun-to-drive aspect does not seem to be present. Either Korean horses are weak or the six-speed transmission saps a lot of power. There just isn’t that torque rush in one strong wallop as expected from a force-fed car, in the same way a Mini JCW (160 kW) or a Peugeot 208 GTi (147 kW), or even a Fiesta ST (132 kW), all also turbocharged, deliver their power.
Kia continues its onslaught on auto markets around the world and with over 2,5 million Ceratos sold since the model’s introduction in 2004 the range makes up a vital part of the company’s growth.
Like its forebear the Koup is a distinctive model that is sure to stand out from the crowd. The new motor should really make it a nice competitor to other two-door coupés such as the thoroughly entertaining Toyota 86 and VW’s Scirocco, but not with that slushbox. We weren’t given the chance to sample a manual version, which I hope is a world better than the auto.
Local representatives of Kia on the launch bandied about a number of R330 000, so don’t expect it to be much cheaper than that when it launches either late this year or early next.
Model: Kia Cerato Koup
Engine: 1,6-litre, turbocharged
Power: 150 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque: 265 N.m from 1 750 – 4 500 r/min
0-100 km/h: 7,4 seconds
Fuel consumption: 7,9 L/100 km
CO2: 187 g/km
Top speed: 222 km/h (ltd.)
Est price: R330 000