The sexy revelation
I’m a big coupé fan. Most of my own cars had two doors, their sleeker and sportier disposition always appeals to me. Without the need for regular rear seat access, tall drivers like yours truly can recline for extra comfort and bask in the decadence of using just the front seats.
Coupés don’t need to be enormous, rear wheel-drive and German; although I’m very partial to those. No, they can also be smaller, Asian and front wheel drive; like the new Kia Cerato Koup. It doesn’t quite have that long bonnet, fat bum look but much like the Scirocco or Hyundai, the FWD layout has its own charm.
Based on Kia’s more common Cerato hatchback, the Koup ticks important coupé check list items with a lower roof line, big wheels, elongated doors with frameless glass, more raked windscreens and a sexy rear end. This is defined by LED light clusters and dual chrome exhausts within a carbon-look rear diffuser. Racy.
Grab the big door handle with chrome strip and thanks to keyless access, the wide door swings open to reveal an equally attractive interior. The cabin shows plenty of contemporary Kia switchgear and materials; it’s my humble opinion that these have recently gained a lot in quality and style.
The dashboard consists of interesting shapes and textures with the central section angled towards the driver like an old 3-Series BMW. Lovely. Crisp white instruments and red needles flank a comprehensive trip computer while modern, dimmable lighting and tasteful chrome strips accent most buttons.
Both front seats offer sufficient comfort and support with manually-adjustable seat belt holders for easier access. Many coupés suffer from pathetic rear quarters so it was an absolute delight to discover that our test vehicle easily harboured three tall adults in the back with only head room lacking slightly.
Part of the Cerato Koup’s standard specification is a 4.2” TFT colour touch-screen with radio, CD, mp3, aux, USB and Bluetooth inputs. Sound output is crisp but lacking a bit in bass and mid-bass. Also part of the standard features is hill start assist, a reverse camera and parking sensors all round
An adjustable steering wheel offers audio and cruise control buttons as well as a three-mode Flex Steer response system. This brings us to an even bigger revelation – the way Kia’s Cerato Koup drives. Press the starter button and the new 1.6 GDi Gamma engine springs to life with a lovely burble.
This high-tech turbo-petrol four cylinder pushes out up to 152kW (207hp) or 265Nm to hit 100km/h in 7.7 seconds and a top speed of 224km/h. Delivered through a taut six-speed manual gearbox to the front wheels, it felt more like 250hp because of the motor’s fantastic response.
Some gear change suggestions seemed implausible but I was stunned how this engine started pulling at 1,200rpm. Just as impressive was our GPS 0-100km/h sprint of 7.1 seconds. Add a light clutch and excellent brakes to this and you’ll see why the Koup is an absolute joy to drive quickly.
Steering response and grip levels are commendable although it’s only natural that such a keen front-wheel-drive car will suffer from a bit of torque steer. The traction control does its best to correct this (and overzealous cornering) as part of a comprehensive safety cache of ABS, EBD and intelligent stability control.
My average consumption from the 50L tank was about 9L/100km which is even more joyous as I’ll happily commit to writing how much I floored the Koup. Should you wish to do the same, it will set you back N$334,995 and come with a five-year/150,000km warranty and five-year/90,000km service plan.
You’ll also have the choice of eight colours and a few options like metallic paint, automatic gearbox, sunroof and other accessories. Given the ancestry of its breed, I honestly did not expect the Kia coupé to be so fast, funky or fun. Hence it’s one of my cars of the year and I believe Kia calls that “The Power to Surprise”.
0-100m: 6.0s / 91.5km/h
0-200m: 9.4s / 116.3km/h
0-300m: 12.2s / 133.4km/h
0-400m: 14.7s / 146.4km/h
1/4mile: 14.8s @ 91.2mph (146.7km/h)