2011 Kia Cerato Koup Review and Road Test

by under Review, Kia, Koup, Review, 2011 on 26 Aug 2011 06:02:29 AM26 Aug 2011
Price Range
$NaN - $NaN
Fuel Consumption
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World’s Best Practice’ styling job inside and out; standard features and the value-for-money


Could do with more chassis development

Kia Cerato Koup is a standout choice for wallet-watching new car buyers keen on a sporty coupe. Easily the raciest Kia yet and oozing the design smarts that underscore Kia’s sales explosion in the last few years, a Kia Cerato Koup had not graced the Car Showroom garage since its launch…high time for a refresh.


In fact the timing couldn’t be better with the introduction of Toyota’s ‘Celica Revival’ FT86 sports car edging closer. Sure we don’t expect the FT86 to be in the same league as Kia Cerato Koup’s handy $23,690 starting price - but Toyota says its newcomer will be ‘mainstream’ (unlike say its Lexus LFA).

Kia Cerato Koup Overview

If we were running Kia and our German head designer, Peter Schreyer, asked for a private jet and a condo in Hawaii, we’d happily hand him they keys – Schreyer’s styling direction has rocketed Kia to the top tier of the automotive world. The Kia Cerato Koup highlights why these days the rest of the automotive world is looking at Kia, instead of Kia looking at them.

In fact we’ve heard people say the Kia Cerato Koup is the hottest-looking car yet from a Korean manufacturer – a bold claim, but one we wouldn’t argue with.


The Koup is based on the Kia Cerato sedan/hatchback platform but in fact is quite different (lower, narrower body, lower, firmer, sportier suspension set-up). Likewise inside – some references to the Cerato but a thoroughly sporty execution.

But the overriding winner for the Kia Cerato Koup’s credentials is its value-for-money. Genuine sports coupe looks for only $23,690 (manual) or $25,690 (automatic) reminds you why Toyota sold so many Celicas back in the 1970s-‘80s.

Kia Cerato Koup Engine

Like its sedan and hatchback siblings, Kia Cerato Koup employs the all-alloy 2.0-litre ‘Theta II’, four-cylinder petrol engine. Maximum power is 115kW at 6200rpm and peak torque of 194Nm is achieved at 4300rpm.

As tested, our five-speed manual Kia Cerato Koup accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 9.3 seconds and combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 7.8l/100kms.


As we reported when testing other members of the Kia Cerato family, Kia has every right to be proud of this 2.0-litre powerplant – it’s nicely responsive throughout the rev range and the exhaust note is very pleasant.

We would like just a little less intrusion of mechanical noise when the engine is at its upper limits and working hard.

Kia Cerato Koup The Interior

Kia Cerato Koup kicks its sub-$30,000 price tag into touch the minute you open the door and climb inside. Sporty seats (our test car trimmed in leather-like material), sporty three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel and black trim with contrasting red stitching all immediately confirm this is a sports coupe. 


With rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel and multi-adjustment for the drivers seat, a good driving position is quickly achieved (although we would have liked more under-thigh support). In fact, even though its body is slightly narrower than the Kia Cerato sedan, the Koup provides slightly more front leg and hip room.

Instruments and layout come from the Cerato – Kia’s hallmark ‘three-cylinder’ gauge cluster with red-coloured lighting and a raised centre stack for the audio and standard climate control air-conditioning. Sound comes from a six-speaker CD system with MP3 and iPod connectivity.


Front seats have a memory function to return to their previous position when folded to provide access to the rear seat. Like others in this segment, even though there are three seat belts for the rear seat, lanky adults would not be comfortable on long journeys – although the Car Showroom juniors were soon happily settled-in.

Luggage capacity is 359-litres – very good for a sports coupe and enough to accommodate the Car Showroom family’s needs for a weekend trip to Phillip Island.

Kia Cerato Koup Exterior & Styling

The work of German Peter Schreyer at the Volkswagen Group and more so since joining Kia has stamped him as one of the automotive stylists of this decade. His leadership of Kia’s design team in creating standout vehicles for multiple market segments has been a huge factor in the Korean giant’s global sales growth.

We’ve scored the Kia Cerato Koup (a Schreyer creation) up in the looks department because it’s easily the raciest Kia ever and you have to overlay that styling with its retail price. Capturing all those slick, contemporary, and state-of-the-art styling cues in a car stickered at $23,690 is remarkable.


All the more impressive when you consider the Cerato Koup is Kia’s first shot at a two-door coupe.

Kia Cerato Koup is a low and sleek (60mm lower than the Cerato hatchback) – as a two-door coupe should be – and introduces its sporty dynamics with a bold front end full of large black-out air-intakes, nice two-light, wraparound headlights and fog lights housed in black bezels.

Blistered front guards continue the sporty stance of the Kia Cerato Koup while the crafting of the sporty C-pillar, black lower bumper trim, multicolor lights and integrated bootlid spoiler all combine to give the rear-end a stylish and racy look.

The black-trimmed, 17-inch alloy wheels look smart and also belie the Kia Cerato Koup’s $23,690 price tag.

Kia Cerato Koup On The Road

Car Showroom rates the Kia Cerato hatchback and sedan very highly. Kia’s 115kW/194Nm, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine is a beauty and the MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear suspension is well thought-out.

For the Koup application, Kia’s chassis engineers were tasked with enhancing that set-up for a sports coupe 20kgs lighter than the hatchback. The result was a faster rate for the power steering, 10mm reduced ride height, wider ‘L’-shaped lower arms in the front, extra castor angle for the wheels, a thicker front anti-roll bar plus firmer springs and dampers.


Like all proper sports cars, our Kia Cerato Koup test car ran the manual transmission – a five-speeder (optional automatic is four-speeds).

Around the city the Kia Cerato Koup was right at home – like the Cerato hatchback, power delivery from 2.0-litre engine was impressive and the clutch and other controls were light and easy to use. Our female testers enjoyed those light controls and good all-round visibility and we all appreciated the handy 10.7-metre turning circle and standard rear parking assist when confronted with the confines of our CBD car park.

Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, again that smooth power delivery from the Kia Cerato Koup was impressive with good acceleration out of corners – helped by smart ratios in the five-speeder. However that good drivetrain could use some sportier chassis dynamics.

Kia Cerato Koup Challenges

Kia Koup’s ride and handling mirrors the Cerato hatchback. That means its high standard for a hatchback, but not quite in the sports coupe league.

Kia Cerato Koup Verdict

We congratulate Kia for bringing the Cerato Koup to Australia. Sales numbers were never going to be massive and, given its specialist nature, there would have been pressure from the Finance Department to file this one in the ‘Too Hard Bin’ for Oz. 


But in the cold hard light of day, this is the only sports coupe for Australian new car buyers on a restricted budget. For the same money you would spend on the Kia Cerato Koup as tested by Car Showroom ($23,690), you could buy a Great Wall X240 - even though we’ve never driven the X240…well, you get the point, the comprehensively equipped Kia Cerato Koup sporty coupe stands out.

So, in a nutshell, Kia Cerato Koup succeeds largely because of its looks (inside and out) and phenomenal value-for-money.

Kia Cerato Koup The Competition

Direct competitors for the $23,690 Kia Cerato Koup we tested are light in numbers. At least until Toyota launches the FT86, but even so, Toyota’s much-heralded newcomer is unlikely to dip below $30,000.

Talking sports coupes, we would walk over hot coals to own a Peugeot RCZ, but it’s priced at $54,990, which challenges the $64,500 starting price for the Audi TT. But they’re both more than double the price of the Kia Cerato Koup.

Volkswagen Polo GTI ($27,790 for the three-door) and Renault Clio ($36,490 for RS 200 Cup) are more hot three-door hatchbacks than sports coupes – and they’re more expensive. 

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