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Kia Cerato Koup 2009 review

New car fashion is often fickle. Take coupe models for example — they have been in and out of favour just like the length of hemlines, the width of ties or height of heels.  Coupes were in, then out and now they are coming back, thanks to an unlikely ally.

The demise of the coupe market in recent years saw the loss of some players which came big in soul — like Toyota's Celica, Mitsubishi's Lancer, Hyundai's Tiburon and Honda's two-door Civic.  But there are always companies willing to take a punt on fashion. Korea's Kia, which is reinventing itself with a more youthful look, has spotted the gaps in the market and, confident its market research is right, has boldly filled the gap.

Enter the Koup, the coupe with a K, which was launched in September and has already notched up a modest 150 sales across the country.  That's small bickies in the scheme of things, but those sales are nevertheless important for the Korean brand as it diversifies its model range with niche models like the funky Soul.

With the Cerato-based Koup Kia has kept to its winning formula of offering a stylish model, extensively packaged and sharply priced and all protected with one of the best warranty programs in the business. So the message here is the Koup comes big on value.

Pricing and equipment

The Koup is the brand's first two-door; pricing has been set at $23,690 (plus on-road costs) and what you get as standard kit for the money embarrasses plenty of better known brands.  Standard equipment includes rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, power windows and mirrors, climate controlled air conditioning, fog lamps, alloy pedals, leather bound steering wheel with audio controls, a half decent audio system with MP3 input and USB port, tinted glass and cruise control.

On the safety front, the Koup has six airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control and active head rests to reduce whiplash injuries. The only options are a four-speed automatic transmission for $2000 and metallic paint ($400).

Drivetrain

For now it comes standard with a five-speed manual; a six-speed isn't far away. The 2-litre petrol four-cylinder is the same motor in the Cerato. With variable valve timing, the motor is good for 115kW and 194Nm of torque. But peak performance comes high on the tacho. Maximum power isn't achieved until 6200 revs, while top of the torque curve is at 4300rpm.

Driving

While Koup's muscular styling, which was penned in California, is stunning, especially in its bright Racing Red paintwork, the driving experience doesn't quite match the looks.  At low-to-mid rev range the Koup is perky enough to satisfy most buyers — providing they are not expecting real sportscar performance. But the engine needs to be revved to give of its best and the test car suffered from an overly light clutch so driving smoothly was a challenge. Kia claims a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 9.3s which is modest.

On most roads the Koup surprises with its sharp steering, balance and grip plus a comfortable ride but that falls away once out on country roads with lumpy surfaces which shows up the weaknesses in the McPherson strut/ torsion beam axle suspension.  We couldn't get close to Kia's claimed combined fuel consumption of 7.8l/100km of regular unleaded, returning a thirsty 11 to 12l/100km for mainly city driving.

No problems however about the distinctly European styling, nor the spacious cabin. Even access to the rear seats, which can be a tight squeeze in coupes, is not a problem.  The Koup will never be a big seller, but it has the sporty image the Koreans desperately need.

Pricing Guides

$7,946
Based on 38 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$2,999
Highest Price
$10,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Koup 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $7,990 – 9,990 2009 Kia Cerato 2009 Koup Pricing and Specs
(base) 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,990 – 6,960 2009 Kia Cerato 2009 (base) Pricing and Specs
(base) 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,990 – 6,250 2009 Kia Cerato 2009 (base) Pricing and Specs
Limited Edition 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,850 – 5,610 2009 Kia Cerato 2009 Limited Edition Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$5,960

Lowest price, based on 3 car listings in the last 6 months

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