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Meet Kia's cracking take on the common man's coupe.
- 2009 Kia Cerato Koup; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; five-speed manual; coupe - $23,690*
- 2009 Kia Cerato Koup; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; four-speed automatic; coupe - $25,690*
- Metallic Paint $400 (Fitted - Bright Silver)
Forget everything you thought you knew about Kia being cheap, bordering on nasty, and at least uninspiring. That perception was so 2003. The new Cerato Koup warrants your careful consideration and it couldn't get here at a better time, seeing as plenty of previous small-car two-doors have evaporated from the market - Honda's Civic Coupe, Mitsubishi's Lancer Coupe and, showing my age, Mazda's 626 Coupe, just to name a few.
Pugnaciously good looking the Cerato Koup draws much of its styling from the already attractive lines offered in its four-door sibling. However, in losing the rear doors and lowering the roofline (by 60mm), it has gained a sporty, sleek and slightly aggressive alternative to buyers shopping the hatchback arena.
There's very little in the way of compromise either with the Koup evidentally as impressive in terms of quality as similarly priced Japanese rivals. Accomodation and equipment levels are also generous with the Koup being near identical on both counts to that of the up-spec Cerato SLi sedan, as currently on long term evaluation here at CarAdvice.
Sharing a common wheelbase of 2650mm with Cerato sedan, Koup boasts cabin proportions nearly mirroring those of its four-door counterpart. Rear head and shoulder room are slightly reduced but not so as you'd notice, the revision seeing a loss of 58 and 59mm respectively. By the same token rear legroom has also only decreased by a marginal 28mm. Entry and egress to the rear seat is a relatively ungymnastic affair though a release on the front seat shoulder might have been a nice idea.
Koup features the same sufficient level of storage compartments as per Cerato sedan offering a two-tier console box, roomy glove compartment, split-sectioned door bins, six cup holders (four front, two rear) and assorted oddment compartments all getting a look in. On the downside Cerato Koup omits height adjustable seatbelts for the driver and front seat passenger.
In terms of decor it's again a case of the familiar with Cerato's unfortunately banal three-pod instrument panel making an unwelcome return. Refreshingly, the handsome centre stack is now accented by a glossy piano black fascia to compliment the monotone black interior. Subtle soft metal and chrome finishes punctuate the console and door trims to lend Koup's cockpit a more up market feel.
As touched on a moment ago the feature list is quite strong considering the list price with the Koup offering striking black and alloy 17-inch wheels, front and rear foglamps, single-zone climate control air conditioning, cruise control, dusk sensing headlamps, rear parking sensors, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, alloy pedals, power windows and mirrors, trip computer, remote central locking, MP3 compatible CD tuner with iPod connectivity and steering wheel mounted remote controls all as standard equipment.
The single-grade Koup will be joined by an up-spec model early next year, the Koup SE, that will offer larger alloy wheels, leather upholstery should you be chasing that extra touch of class.
Safety comes compliments of an impressive array of standard equipment that includes speed sensing door locks, dual front, side and curtain airbags, ESC with Traction Control and four-wheel disc brakes featuring electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. Three-point inertia reel seatbelts are fitted to all five seating positions with the front seats adding pyrotechnic pretensioners to the list. Although yet to complete ANCAP testing a four-star result akin to that of Cerato sedan should be expected.
Up back a commodious 358 litre boot offers ample luggage space which can be increased by the 60:40 split fold rear seat. Conveniently the release mechanism for which are located in the top of the luggage compartment to negate the need for climbing in and out of the back seat.
Under the bonnet the Cerato Koup is powered by Kia's free-revving, Theta II CVVT engine. Of 'square' design (meaning bore and stroke dimensions are equal, in this case 86.0mm), this 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit develops a class-leading 115kW of power at 6200rpm while also managing a strong 194Nm of torque from 4300 revs.
A revised exhaust system featuring dual outlets offers the Koup a lower, more distinctive note under acceleration which I might add is quite brisk thanks to a recalibrated throttle response that sees 0-100km/h times of 9.3 and 10.5 seconds in the manual and automatic respectively.
When it comes to transmission choices the Koup offers a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual, and although neither choice is perfectly suited to the car's stylistic intent I'd take the manual as a preference.
The reason? Simple: the ageing four-speed automatic feels a little lifeless and is slow to respond to subtle changes in throttle pressure. The result of this unfortunate situation is that the eager engine cannot be fully utilised, especially when modulating speed through corners where the transmission tends to overreact once prompted seeing a frenzy of excitement and noise before the desired result is achieved.
By contrast the only issues found with the manual box are a light clutch and slightly longer throw of the gearshift than is otherwise desirable.
Our real-world driving offers a vastly different result on the fuel-consumption front than the ADR fuel figure suggests, I would however hasten to point out that both car's engines were very fresh with only 800km on the manual and 1300km on the automatic's odometer at the time of testing, and if our long-termer is anything to go by, this figure should fall to a more acceptable figure over the course of time.
Pleasingly the Cerato Koup is happy to run on regular 91RON unleaded meaning filling the tank should set you back around $65. For the record our week's fuel consumption figures were 8.6L/100km for the manual and 10.0L/100km in the auto.
Sprung by a strut front / torsion beam rear arrangement, a 10mm reduction in ride height compared to the Cerato sedan means the Koup feels a little more taut through corners, a feeling validated by the inclusion of a thicker front stabiliser bar, stiffer shock absorber settings and increased steering rack ratio that provide a more tenacious yet accurate drive to compliment the car's athletic appearance.
Although this has made for a slightly stiffer ride I wouldn't say the Koup is overly firm or uncomfortable with enough compliance remaining. This allows relaxed cruising on country roads and cabin noise levels comparable to that of similarly priced four-door competitors (72dB @ 100km/h).
With great looks, competitive pricing and an outstanding five-year / unlimited kilometre warranty, Cerato Koup is a meritorious example of just how far the 'cheap and cheerful' Kia brand has come, and as such, is truly a worthy consideration to any one willing to exchange their badge snobbery for some seriously striking, reliable and affordable two-door motoring.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: