2014 KIA CERATO KOUP REVIEW
What’s hot: New styling, equipment and tasty 1.6 litre turbo.
What’s not: Looks a little too much like the Cerato?
X-FACTOR: Well-balanced, the turbo is quick on road and easy to live with.
Vehicle style: Small coupe
Engine/trans: 150kW/265Nm 1.6 turbo petrol, 129kW/209Nm 2.0 litre petrol | 6-spd manual/auto
Fuel consumption listed: 7.7/7.3 l/100km | tested: 11.7 l/100km (turbo auto)
The second-gen Kia Cerato Koup comes with neat new lines and a potent turbo model thrown into the bowl.
While the first generation hardly set the sales charts on fire, this one has the style and improved dynamics to take the fight to the bargain coupe sector.
The 1.6 litre GDI Turbo under the bonnet is lifted from its Korean cousin, the Veloster SR Turbo. It's the first of a wave of turbo-engined cars from Kia. The 1.6 will also see duty in the pro_cee'd GT.
In the new Cerato Koup this is the engine that may change buyer perceptions. But, for those looking for something milder, the new model (like the old) also comes with a naturally aspirated 2.0 SLi.
By Kia's own admission, this isn't a hot hatch but a grand tourer.
We set out to find out what it was like.
The Koup's dashboard is hardly the latest in avant-garde design, but it works well. The carbon-look weave of the stereo surround is a nice touch as are the ribs in the passenger side of the dash pad.
There's not a lot of difference between the 2.0 litre and Turbo for specification.
Each has cruise control, air-con, artificial leather trim, trip computer, power windows, a 4.3 inch screen for the stereo, phone and reversing camera.
The 4.3-inch screen looks a little bit lost in the dash, but has good resolution and is almost as easy to use as the excellent MyLink system found in Holden's Trax and Barina, if not as feature-packed.
The only real differences between the two models are the alloy sport pedals on the Turbo, electrochromatic rear vision mirror and push button start.
The Touring Pack, only available on the Turbo, brings sat-nav, real leather, a larger 7-inch screen, DVD player, dual zone climate control and a few other odds and ends.
The front seats are very comfortable and well-bolstered for when you're having a bit of fun.
The fabric on the base model and the part-leather Turbo is identical and a bit sober, but feels fine and won't let you slide about (the Touring Pack comes with full-leather).
The plastics are, overall, very good. It doesn't feel super-premium, but as with the rest of the range, is part of a rapidly-improving cabin ambience from Kia.
Children could be easily coaxed into the rear seat more readily than, say, a Toyota 86 but it doesn't have the Veloster's trick third door.
Inside is plenty of storage, with six cupholders (for five seats, oddly), door pockets, a glovebox big enough to fit a sizeable user manual and a phone/gadget bin underneath the dash.
The rear seats spilt 60/40 to extend a decent-sized boot which swallowed four big overnight bags without squeezing.
ON THE ROAD
True to Kia's claims, the Koup isn't the hard-charging hot hatch - that's been left to the forthcoming pro_cee'd GT - but is quite the comfortable sports tourer.
The only major difference is smaller wheels and brakes for the naturally-aspirated 2.0 litre model. It sits on 17-inch wheels shod with 215/45 tyres while the turbo gets 18-inch alloys with 225/40 tyres.
The brakes, discs all round, are 20mm bigger on the Turbo, at 300mm. ABS, EBD, ESC and traction control are standard across the range.
The suspension tune is unique to Australia, developed by a trio of Kia Australia locals.
The result of that fettling is responsive handling should you produce the stick. Turn-in is good and the front end is not unduly unsettled by large bumps or imperfections.
It does tend towards understeer, especially if you're really going for it, but is nicely controllable on the throttle.
The steering too is quicker than the old generation Koup, at 2.85 turns lock-to-lock.
The Koup also features Flex Steer, which is something of a gimmick. A steering wheel-mounted button allows you to switch between comfort, normal and sport.
Sport is probably too heavy for most, but has a positive on-centre feel. Comfort is too light but for the driving we did, Normal felt just right.
On either set of wheels, the ride is calm and controlled, with a bit of firmness to hint at its ultimate ability. Sharp bumps will send a shock through the cabin, but you won't feel it through the steering.
The 129kW/209Nm 2.0 litre non-turbo is a reasonably flexible unit. It revs freely but you do need to keep it up above the 4000rpm mark to get the best from it.
There's decent torque there and you can leave it in third while you concentrate on the steering, braking and accelerating.
The 150kW/265Nm turbo is the more flexible unit. There's virtually no lag from the 1.6 litre GDi-T and it has a much fatter torque curve.
It's quite a bit quicker from standstill and in the gears than the 2.0 litre and with little impact on the fuel numbers.
The turbo is a bit flat however. There's no aural drama (in common with the Veloster) and feels like it needs a bit more of an edge.
The manual gearbox is the pick for both turbo and non-turbo. The shift is reasonably slick shift and the clutch isn't as lifeless as in some other Kias.
Mated to the 1.6 GDi-T, the six-speed auto doesn't detract much from the performance - it is actually quicker to 100km/h - but it does take away some of the driver involvement.
The weight penalty of the automatic in the 2.0 litre however is felt in the handling. It doesn't make it a bad car - far from it - but the auto base model is not for the keen driver.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
Pricing for the new Cerato Koup is keen, the car looks great and it drives really well. In fact, you can't have anything for less than $30,000 with this kind of grunt.
Those in the know will spot its origins in the Cerato hatch, but the European-built Koup feels tight and will nab a few buyers who wander into Kia showrooms looking for something different.
It's also a big jump over the old Koup, which, while good-looking, was a bit dull. The new one fixes the dullness while adding a bit of spice and all-rounder appeal.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- 2.0-litre GDi SLi - $23,990 (M/T) $26,190 (A/T)
- 1.6-litre T-GDi Turbo - $27,990 (M/T) $30,190 (A/T)
- 1.6-litre T-GDi Turbo Touring - $30,190 (M/T) $32,390 (A/T)