IT WEARS ‘CERATO’ ON ITS RUMP, BUT THE 2016 KIA CERATO KOUP IS MORE THAN MERELY A TWO-DOOR VERSION OF THE FOUR-DOOR SEDAN SHARING THAT BADGE.
Interior styling is, however, shared between coupe and sedan. But the Koup gets longer, frameless doors that are the sports car equivalent of long, sexy legs, while the rear-end boasts a shorter bootlid and racier horizontal tail-lights.
The Cerato Koup range starts from $24,190 plus on-road costs, but that’s for the underpowered 2.0 litre manual. It will cost $4000 more to buy the 1.6-litre turbo and another $2200 to option the six-speed automatic as tested here. That makes for a $30,490 (plus orc) coupe package.
Vehicle Style: Small sports coupe
Price: $30,490 (as tested, plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.0 l/100km | tested: 10.9 l/100km
The availability of an automatic transmission and sourcing from South Korea has saved the Kia Cerato Koup from extinction. Its blood-brother, the Kia pro_Cee’d GT, has just been killed off because it was manual-only and made in the Czech Republic.
We mention this because the pro_Cee’d GT has been hailed for its style and performance, where the Cerato Koup traditionally has not. And, so far this year (to November 2015) the pro-Cee’d has outsold the Koup, 371 sales versus 228 units, so clearly the cost for Kia Australia of sourcing from different factories is the bigger issue.
So is the Cerato Koup worth a look?
- Standard equipment: power windows and mirrors, keyless auto-entry, multi-function trip computer, air-conditioning, leather/cloth seat trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-on/off headlights
- Infotainment: 4.3-inch colour touchscreen with USB/AUX input, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, AM/FM radio, CD player and six speakers
- Options fitted (if applicable): none
- Cargo volume: 433 litres
The Cerato Koup Turbo is lacking some items you may expect as standard fit for $30k, such as satellite navigation and dual-zone climate control air-conditioning. But these form part of a $2500 option package bundled with leather trim.
Adding nav also flicks the 4.0-inch touchscreen for a 7.0-inch unit that looks more upmarket, however adding the package takes the price to $32,990 (plus orc). By comparison, a Holden Astra GTC has a 7.0-inch screen with nav as standard for $29,190 (plus orc) and lacks none of the Kia’s other equipment.
The Cerato Koup feels its sub-$20k origins inside, particularly with the small centre screen of our test car.
Also, scratchy plastics, dowdy grey trim and faux carbon-fibre inserts simply don’t provide the ambience expected for a $30k-plus coupe.
Four people are generously accommodated for a compact coupe, however. The front seats are comfortable, but the real star is the rear seat with a supportive cushion and tilted backrest.
There is impressive legroom and headroom back there, and even air-vents – finally a coupe that thinks about rear passenger welfare!
The boot of the Cerato Koup is shallow (because a full-size 18-inch spare alloy resides beneath the floor), but it’s also deep, affording 433 litres of space.
Kia has masterfully managed to combine good looks on the outside with sedan-like space on the inside. If only it had the ambience and equipment to match.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine output and configuration: 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
- Transmission type and driveline configuration: six-speed automatic, FWD
- Suspension type, front and rear: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
- Brake type, front and rear: ventilated front and rear disc brakes
- Steering type and turning circle: electrically assisted mechanical steering, 10.6m
Despite sharing a 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder engine and 18-inch alloy wheels, the Cerato Koup isn’t as sharp to drive as the pro_Cee’d GT.
The Koup has ordinary Nexen tyres and simple torsion-bar rear suspension, where the latter scored excellent Michelins and a sophisticated multi-link rear arrangement.
All is not lost, however, because this Kia is quite different in flavour to its defunct cousin. Think of the Cerato Koup as more of a fast, frenetic small sedan with two less doors, and it starts to make sense.
Throttle response is excellent and the turbo engine delivers punch anywhere in the rev range. The six-speed automatic is a superb match, slickly and decisively picking gear ratios and very responsive when using the standard paddleshifters in manual mode.
The Cerato Koup can be fast fun even around town; it's as adept at plugging traffic gaps and accelerating from the traffic lights as many more expensive cars. However, 'sling-shotting' the turbo comes at a penalty; we averaged 10.9 litres per 100 kilometres on test when the official combined cycle average is 8.0 l/100km.
On a twisty road, the story is also not quite so complimentary. It simply doesn’t have the grip and cornering finesse of a well-sorted ‘European’ (like, say, the Clio Sport or Holden Astra GTC) when you start looking for its outer limits.
There is simply more engine than chassis here.
That said, there’s still decent balance and a stability control system that will keep things from getting too pear-shaped should you give the Cerato Koup a bit of a fling.
The suspension also provides a reasonably absorbent ride, both for city and country driving. The sense of quality disintegrates somewhat over larger bumps, but generally it balances compliance and control reasonably well.
So, along with the roomy interior, it can play sensible two-door sedan where required.
The three-mode steering however – with comfort, normal and sports modes – is disappointing.
Even in the lightest setting, the steering feels resistant, yet it is always loose on centre. ‘Sport’ at least provides meaty weighting, but the response at the wheel is never as quick as a sporty coupe’s should be.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 35.51 out of 37 possible points
Safety features: Six airbags including dual-front, front-side and full-length curtain, ABS and ESC, reverse-view camera, front and rear parking sensors
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The recently relaunched Astra GTC offers swoopy styling and more equipment, but is slower than the Kia, while hometown rival Hyundai continues with its top-selling Veloster Turbo (one we like quite a lot) for a slight premium with one extra (side) door.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Kia Cerato Koup is not a honed drive and nor does it carry the premium feel that you might expect at this price.
However, re-adjust your expectations from the high watermark that was the pro_Cee’d GT and this two-door coupe appeals in other ways.
Not only is it roomy inside, but it also rides decently around town. The surplus of power and intelligent automatic means it is also fun, anywhere and at anytime. You don’t need a twisty road to play with to get your kicks at the wheel of the Koup.
Note the benchmark-setting seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty then go bargaining hard if you want a fast, urban-friendly two-door that definitely looks better than your average run-of-the-mill hatchback.
Its pricing knocks half-a-star off our assessment, but with just a little effort (and arm twisting), you will do a very good deal here.
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