THE 2010 KIA CERATO KOUP, first revealed in concept form early last year, will launch in Australia late next month, priced from around $25,000.
The company's first two-door coupe, the Cerato Koup will be a halo model for the Korean brand, emphasising the company's move towards a youthful, more dynamic look.
Speaking with TMR, Kia Australia's National Public Relations Manager Jonathan Fletcher said that the Koup won't be offered with the 2.4 litre engine available in the US model. Australian-delivered Koups will instead be powered by the same 115kW 2.0 litre petrol engine that powers the Cerato sedan.
"The 2.4 litre was never on the cards for Australia, it's a US-specific option. The head of overseas marketing for Kia, in Korea, has been clear that the US arm has its own needs, and as a substantial market - Kia will probably sell something like 300,000 cars there this year - those needs will be catered to.
For the rest of the world? sportiness is certainly a part of the Koup equation, but efficiency is another, and with that in mind, it was decided that the 2.0 litre was the way to go. It's not short on power, and in sedan form it offers class-leading power."
Fletcher also confirmed that the Koup's suspension has been revised (over the sedan's) to ensure that it delivers on its sporting pretensions, by offering improved handling and communication with the road.
"The Cerato Koup is a more sporting drive than the sedan. It's lower, shorter in length, stiffer, lighter, a better drive all-round. It's absolutely not a 'just for looks' model."
With a claimed 9.3 second run to 100km/h for the five-speed manual and 10.5 seconds for the four-speed automatic, the Koup isn't going to set the road on fire, but it's not claiming to be a performance car.
What it will offer is an appealing combination of sharp sporty coupe styling and frugality.
Fuel economy for the manual is 7.5 l/100km - the same as the sedan - while the auto, despite being a ratio down, manages to return 7.6 l/100km.
Where the Koup in the US market has to contend with the likes of the Honda Civic Coupe and Focus Coupe, it's a different story in Australia.
"There's a gap since the demise of the two-door lines from other manufacturers. The base model Integra, Celica, that sort of model. It's for people who want two doors rather than four, but they don't necessarily want to drive a hatch. There are people for whom the hatch is right, and people who prefer the security of a proper boot," Mr Fletcher said.
"It's unquestionably a car that we're going to be very proud to have as part of our range. It will form an important part of our range, and its looks alone immediately stamp it as being something of a halo car for the brand."
"I've been driving the Koup recently, and I can't park it anywhere during the day without people commenting, positively, on its looks."
Pricing, ever the hot point for 'entry-level' carmakers such as Kia, is expected to be around the $25,000 mark.
"The manual Cerato SLi sedan is around $22,990 and the auto around $24,990. It won't be much more than that," Mr Fletcher told TMR.
The 2010 Kia Cerato Koup will launch locally in the second half of September. Watch this space for TMR's First Drive review.