2010 Kia Cerato Koup First Drive Review

Tony O'Kane | 23 Comments

IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE a car based on the humble Cerato could look this good, but lo and behold, the Koup sure is easy on the eyes.

Kia Australia has launched the 2010 Cerato Koup nationwide, and cars are set to roll into dealerships this weekend. What will greet buyers when they walk into Kia showrooms? Nothing less than the sexiest and sportiest Kia yet – and Australia’s cheapest coupe.

Australia is one of the first right-hand drive markets to get Kia’s sporty new Koup, which launched in the US and South Korean markets earlier this year.

Kia’s sales projections for the car are modest at 600 to 800 cars for the first year. But more than anything else, the Korean automaker sees the two-door Cerato variant as a trophy for the brand: a rolling billboard announcing the arrival of Kia as a world-class manufacturer.


It is also a triumph for Kia’s engineering teams, having been developed from last year’s Koup Concept into a production car in just 12 months.

Although it shares the same wheelbase as the sedan, the Cerato Koup bears a number of significant differences from the four-door Cerato.

The Koup is 60mm lower than the sedan, the result of a 10mm suspension drop and a 50mm cut in body height. It’s 50mm shorter too thanks to a cut in rear overhang, and total width is down 10mm to 1765mm.


Styled at Kia’s American design studio in Irvine California, every body-panel bar the bonnet is new and the front and rear bumpers are markedly different to those of the sedan.

While sashless windows impart an up-market flavour to its lines, the blacked-out grilles, foglight-frames, and the Koup’s trapezoidal lower bumper inlet, inject some visual menace into the Korean two-door. Below, subtle wheelarch flares frame a set of two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels.

The sharp character line that runs along the Cerato sedan’s flanks is also there on the Koup, except it appears deeper, bolder and more pronounced.


Around the back, narrower tail-lights sit below a prominent boot lip and a faux diffuser panel surrounds the twin-outlet chrome exhaust tips.

It’s sharp looking for sure, and it turned more than a few heads on the streets of Melbourne. The Cerato sedan is already a well-proportioned car; lopping off two doors and massaging the sheetmetal has more than enhanced the visual appeal - the Koup has the presence of a whole new car.

On aesthetic qualities alone, the Koup is deserving of the trophy status Kia has bestowed upon it.


Step inside the cabin and the picture gets even better. Like the upcoming 2010 model year Cerato sedan, the Cerato Koup benefits from newer, more upmarket materials and a premium trim scheme.

Black is the dominant colour in the cockpit, while a healthy smattering of piano-black trim and neat applications of chrome offset the darkness. The steering wheel – which, like the dashboard, is shared with the sedan – features gunmetal rather than silver paint and red stitching on the leather-wrapped rim.

Red stitching is also applied to the seats and fabric-trimmed doors, the front seats themselves being deeply-bolstered buckets unique to the Koup. The back seats lose a bit of legroom compared to the sedan, but there’s still more than enough room to fit three people across the rear bench.


Specced to the same level as the Cerato SLi sedan, the Koup scores fog lamps, climate control, cruise control, a trip computer, auto-on headlights and rear parking sensors as standard, also standard is a six-speaker AM/FM CD tuner with USB/iPod input.

Safety equipment too is generous, with ABS, traction control, stability control and six airbags included in the Koup’s single spec level.

Mechanically, the Koup possesses a mixture of familiar and new components. Power is delivered by the same 2.0 litre Theta II petrol inline four used by the Cerato sedan, and the Koup’s four-speed auto and five-speed manual are also pinched from the four-door’s parts bin.

The auto has, however, received a sharper shift map for the Koup, but an all-new six-speed auto is expected to arrive with the first model update.


Power is a best-in-class 115kW at 6200rpm, with peak torque of 194Nm arriving at 4300rpm. While the Koup Concept used a turbocharged Theta II engine mated to an all-wheel-drive system, there are no plans to bring either to the production Koup – likewise for diesel powerplants.

Fuel consumption is rated at 7.8 litres per 100km for the manual and 7.9 l/100km for the auto. Kia is definitely being conservative with these numbers though: we managed to achieve an average of 7.5l/100km on the long drive home from the launch – in peak hour traffic.

Suspension hardware is based on the same MacPherson strut/torsion beam setup from the sedan, however stiffer damper valving, a thicker front swaybar and a 10mm lower ride height all improve handling in the Koup. A faster steering rack ratio sharpens turn-in, and more rigid steering linkages help make the tiller a more communicative one.


Brakes are unchanged from the sedan’s stoppers, but subtle changes see performance improve and stopping distances shorten.

How does it drive? Pretty respectably, as it happens. Where handling in the sedan is soft, the Koup feels a lot tauter and more controlled during spirited jaunts along twisting roads.

The sportier suspension tune works wonders with the Cerato’s chassis, and although that rear beam axle is anything but sophisticated, the Koup still exhibits a reassuring amount of grip.

It’s by no means quick (the claimed 0-100km/h time for the manual is 9.3 seconds), but keep that 2.0 litre up high in its rev range and there’s enough grunt to keep the Koup moving at a good rate.


That said, it’s a pity a turbocharged motor isn’t on the cards – things could get serious with a bit more grunt.

But, despite the sporty pretensions, Kia will be relying on keen pricing and the Koup’s killer good looks and fuel economy to move cars out of its showrooms. The Cerato Koup range kicks off at $23,690 before on-roads for the five-speed manual, and $25,690 for the four-speed auto.

The 25-40 year-old demographic is squarely in the sights of the Koup, and Kia hopes to snare some customers away from rival hatches and small sedans, like the Mitsubishi Lancer VRX, Mazda 3 SP25 and Honda Civic Sport.

Has the 2010 Kia Cerato Koup got what it takes to stick it to the Japanese competition? We’ve already started putting some kays on our Koup’s odometer, and we’ll have the answer for you next week.

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Filed under: review, Kia, petrol, coupe, Kia Cerato, kia cerato koup, 2010 kia cerato koup, 2010 kia koup, fwd, kia koup, small, lifestyle, 4cyl, 2door

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  • FrugalOne says,
    6 years ago
    1 like
    This would have to sell well, based simply on its looks.

    Engine output is NOT class leading, its the same as the Dodge Caliber.......

    Steering wheel 3-spoke design is YUK, just like the sedan, nice that it's leather though!

    It's a pity the 5-speed auto was not offered from the off.

    I don;t need climate-control, chrome exhaust, fog-lamps or rear park sensors [on this short vehicle?], and a smaller more economical 1.6L would be nice.

    RATHER it be to MY "SL" spec. and $19,990 driveaway!

    How much trade in for my 2004 ST11 X -Trail? smile , yeap i like Koup, F.0. approved tick, will check it out this Saturday, to soon to do a deal though, wait till the novelty wears off a bit and then i might bite!


  • FrugalOne says,
    6 years ago
    "Hi FrugalOne
    Aside from the Kia having more torque, some might say the Caliber isn’t in quite the same class as the Cerato Koup…"

    True on both counts, bugger all difference though, but yeah totally different class, both 2L/4cyl. but that is about it!


    Mind you as soon FIAT fits it MultiAir "package" to this [and all] Chrysler donks, its game over, the Chrysler will have more of both and be THE class leader no matter how you measure it!

    Good write up BTW, looking foward to your updates and thoughts.

    After all its on my shortlist for future purchase, need to study ALL low/mid $20's vehicles for potential purchase.


  • sleeper says,
    6 years ago
  • Love GT-R says,
    6 years ago
    All show and no go. Designed for female P-platers. "Sporty pretensions" is an accurate description.
  • OTTO AU says,
    6 years ago
    What can we say is, WELL DONE KIA!

    They have seen a segment that is not currently active and went for it.

    NO NO NO! Its does NOT need brutal performance [where you going to use it anyway in our police state?] its price-range is the hatchback segment, that it looks like its doing 100MPH and has great style is a bonus, performance for want of a better word is equal to all the other similar priced hatchs, nothing more nothing less, job done, targets meet!

    Need to see how hard it is to get into the back seat, and what the leg room is like back there.

    If KIA start selling boat loads of these you will see the Lancer Coupe and Toyoya Paseo re-enter the market again, maybe even sister company Hyundai might do a cheaper coupe?

    Once again Kudos to Kia, STYLE is back!
  • Fred Bishop says,
    6 years ago
    I cannot tell, is this fine auto missing a rear window wiper/washer, or does it have one?


  • FrugalOne says,
    6 years ago
    First real-world on-road test in Oz, and it got slammed.

    I think its a fair report to be honest....


    So whats the MY10 Lancer Sportsback really like? smile
  • gary72 says,
    6 years ago
    ^^^ I think she missed the point entirely. It's a coupe version of the Cerato and priced accordingly. I don't think Kia is pitching it as being a 'performance car' or even a 'sports car'. More a car that thanks to its attractive coupe styling is 'sporty'.

    What else can you buy for that money that looks that good?
  • PriceGuide says,
    6 years ago
    I think its simply to expensive, needs to be $20,000
  • RBH says,
    6 years ago
    I think Kia are right on the money with this and the Soul. If they keep producing cars like this at this price point, they are going to carve a nice niche for themselves.

    There is absolutely a place for a budget price coupe. The last model Lancer coupe sold like hotcakes, simply because it was the best looking car in its price bracket. This car is definitely a looker and at 600-800 units p.a. I think Kia are massively underestimating the demand for it.
  • RalphSerra says,
    6 years ago
    @PriceGuide i agree with you.

    What's the bet like the Cerato and Soul that they will have to savage the price and support it in a few months time.

    Why not be sensible and kick it off at the *real* price from the start?

    It should indded be $20k driveaway or as per Frugalo offer a "SL" base spec. of it.
  • Josh says,
    6 years ago
    To that report... " http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=65721&vf=2 "

    I also she missed the point entirely. It's NOT a sports car... Just looks like one wink

    I think the design is TERRIFIC smile

    Does it come in blue? If so, one for my son.
  • Steve says,
    6 years ago
    Fantastic Car, all KIA needed was to get a better hold on some market share before they too started to release some great cars. This car is something I would buy over others in its class - its got more power than a Corolla (and its faster by 2 seconds to 100kms/h) looks brilliant, the styling on this is fantastic, its great on fuel usage, drive quality compared to earlier models is much better... brilliant little car, I think it definitely can give Lancer, Corolla, and other small cars a run for its money - price tag is fantastic also
  • julio says,
    6 years ago
    nice car , looks brilliant, fast style, and cheaper. Well done KIA.
  • bananabender says,
    6 years ago
    I saw one of these parked next to a Golf GTi at the shops. The Kia look just as good for $20k less.
  • aek says,
    6 years ago
    look nice !
    but not sure about engine
  • dk says,
    6 years ago
    a ft-86 rip off from the looks of it -,-
  • merran says,
    6 years ago
    I have just noticed the car.
    I am a Lancer owner, having owned 4 of them and I was just about to buy another one, but maybe not!
    I would like to hear from someone who has actually purchased a Koup so that they can tell me what they think. I am a bit concerned about the Kia tag, but maybe that is all about to change because of this little car.
  • craig says,
    6 years ago
    My wife & I bought a Rio in 07 as a fill in car simply because it was cheaper than anything decent second hand for her to drive. Had a trouble free run with that and have just bought a Koup. Were very close to buying a Mazda 3 SP25 but just was not happy with the looks. She wanted a coup but needed room for passengers and there is little on the market. The Koup ticks all the boxes as in 5 seater, not just another car and of course is a coup. We like all the creature comforts, i.e. cruise control, climate air, ipod control, reverse sensors auto headlights, all standard on the koup. To drive is a pleasure and I am more than happy to be behind the wheel ( I have an 08 SV6 holden) Power is more than adequate in today's driving world. For under $30,000 I think is a great buy and with 5 years unlimited k warranty there really is not much to complain about. Yes you could have more power, but why? Personally I think it looks great,very nice to drive, inexpensive and while I too initially had issues with the Kia name and Korea, I think those days are gone. Kia, Hyundai and others have more than come of age in recent years and I personally would rather have some more $$$ in the bank. While we haven't had it that long, I would not hesitate in recommending it as an alternative to what most of us would have traditionally bought. All our friends and work colleagues and others have commented on what a great looking car it is.
  • merran hamilton says,
    5 years ago
    Thanks for the info Craig- I have just ordered one and will pick it up 12.04.10. I cant wait. It looks gorgeous, so goodbye Lancer and hello Koup. Time will tell if I am as happy with it as I have been with my Lancers, but at this point just according to it looks inside and out I am!
  • says,
    5 years ago
    Now if it wasn't a KIA I would have raced out to buy one immediately.Unfortunately I have 4 friends who have Kias and they have had nothing but problems with them...4 friends with KIAs and all 4 have had major problems..I think I will wait to see the feedback from people who take the risk buying one as it is a nice looking car...one thing I did notice about the cars interior is that it has a very weird smell inside unlike that new car smell.
  • Rita says,
    5 years ago
    I went for a test drive in the Kia cerato Koup today...Let me just say, WHOA!!! It drives like a dream, it actually does have guts, the inside interior looks fantastic...The back has plenty of room for 3, i had my 13 year old son in the back which is 5ft 8 he had plenty of room for his long legs...the stereo sounds great too...I actually did buy the car today and i will recieve it in 2 weeks time. If any one is intereste i will let you know what i think of it after a couple of months..I also think the price is reasonable. I also did notice it didn't have a new car smell, but it is okay, it doesn' STINK...
  • says,
    5 years ago
    I have worked for a dealership that sells Kia and there cars are very reliable. some of the old rio's are starting to have little problems like door handles and the like but thats no different to fords and holdens. 10 years workin on Hyundais and jias i can say they build a preety good reliable car. The Koup Looks the goods and drives great for what it is. Remember that its 24k not 40k so dont expect a BMW or something but i believe its as good if not better than the Mitsubishi as far as quality and finish. 3 year waranty just makes the decission easier.
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