Talk about a game-changer – Kia has replaced the previous, somewhat plain Cerato Koup with an all-new model boasting sophisticated looks and a punchy turbocharged engine. But the second-generation Koup maintains the previous model’s standout value with a naturally-aspirated model priced from just $23,990 – that’s very little coin for a handsome coupe.
The Cerato family is the cornerstone of Kia and the Korean giant reckons on selling around 500,000 of them this year. No doubt the Koup is the image leader thanks to its gorgeous looks (a collaboration between its design studios in Germany and North America) and impressive driving dynamics.
Combined with the just-launch pro_cee’d GT there’s a performance car theme emerging at Kia. And that has to be good.
Kia Cerato Koup Overview
More so than the previous model, with the second-generation Koup, Kia set-out to provide marked differentiation from the Cerato hatchback. In fact, parked alongside the regular Cerato you’d be hard-pressed to tell the Koup is a relation.
The sleek newcomer is longer and wider than its predecessor and is graced with exotic looks which stretch way beyond its modest sub-$24K starting price tag.
Kia offers the Cerato Koup in two grades. Entry-level Si versions start at $23,990 but Car Showroom tested the range-topping Kia Cerato Koup turbo (automatic) which is sharply priced at $30,190.
Kia Cerato Koup Engine
Entry-level Kia Cerato Koup Si models employ the naturally-aspirated 129kW/209Nm ‘Nu’ 2.0-litre engine however our test car was the turbocharged model.
So under the bonnet was Kia’s excellent ‘Gamma’ 1.6-litre GDI engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger boosting output to 150kW at 6000rpm and peak torque to 265Nm between 1750-4500rpm. Fuel consumption (combined cycle) is rated at 8.9l/100kms.
It’s an all-alloy block and head with an offset crankshaft and dual (intake and exhaust) variable valve timing. The turbo also scores a unique exhaust system tuned to produce a sporty sound (10-15dB louder than the naturally-aspirated version) between 1000-4000rpm.
Our test car was fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission or you can opt for a six-speed manual.
Kia Cerato Koup The Interior
Naturally there are some cues from the Cerato hatchback inside the Kia Koup, but carbon-look trim highlights and nicely supportive front seats with easy access to the rear highlight the coupe version’s sporty flavour. And compared to its predecessor, the second-generation Kia Cerato Koup is significantly ahead in terms of critical head, leg and shoulder room.
The steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach and – again impressive for a car in this price range – the front seat belts have extended guides so you don’t dislocate a shoulder when reaching for them. Instrumentation is nicely presented in two chrome-trimmed dials and there is a Dot Matrix LCD cluster.
Rear seat legroom is amongst the best in this league and the rear seat split-folds 60/40 for load-carrying versatility. Luggage space is reasonable at 433-litres.
Kia Cerato Koup Exterior & Styling
Kia has one of the strongest lineups of design talent in any automotive company its European team - headed by German Peter Schreyer - teamed with their North American colleagues in California to create the second-generation Koup. Most of the work was done in California under the control of Kia Motors America head designer Tom Kearns and the result shares only the bonnet and front fenders with the Kia Cerato hatchback.
When you reference its $23K starting price, the Kia Cerato Koup delivers an exotic cab-forward look punctuated by frameless doors, a swooping C-pillar and complex side sculpturing. That’s a lot of looks for little cash.
At the front, the Koup is highlighted by a grille which is slimmer than the Cerato hatchback as well as a curvaceous bumper and wider, lower air intakes. The Kia badge shifts from the grille to the front bodywork and the Turbo model as tested gains front fog lights, LED DRLs, a dark chrome grille and carbon-look trim.
The turbo rides on stylish black-trimmed 18-inch alloy wheels and also features body-colour side skirts and gloss black exterior mirrors.
At the rear is a stylish bootlid spoiler and the turbo model is accented by a gloss black lower trim and carbon-look under-bumper diffuser.
Compared to the previous generation, the all-new Kia Cerato Koup is 50mm longer (4530mm), 15mm wider (1780mm) and 10mm higher (1410mm). Kia says the 50mm longer wheelbase (2700mm) is actually the same as the Sorento SUV and is the longest in the European C1 segment (that means extra interior space).
Kia Cerato Koup On The Road
It was a few days of city driving before we tackled our high-speed mountain roads test loop and in that traffic-choked environment we thought the Kia Cerato Koup Turbo was a bit docile. Wrong! Get the Kia Cerato Koup Turbo out in the open and crack the whip on the 1.6-litre and this stylish coupe really gets motoring.
There’s plenty of urge from that 265Nm of torque and the local fettling of the MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear suspension has paid dividends with handling dynamics enthusiasts will appreciate. Naturally with all that grunt, the default setting when pushed is understeer but the Kia Cerato Koup Turbo responds nicely to throttle control to balance the front-end and that turbo shove on corner exit is very rewarding.
Around town, the Kia Cerato Koup masks its racy open-road demeanor with pleasant every-day dynamics and non-sporty drivers will be right at home. Of course there’s plenty of acceleration when required (like freeway merging) but refinement levels are high and the reversing camera makes for easy parking.
Kia Cerato Koup issues
The compromise – 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/40 R18 tyres – sporty looks and grippy when cornering, but the ride may be too firm for some buyers in this segment.
Kia Cerato Koup Verdict
All things considered there’s a lot to like about the Kia Koup Turbo. A good starting point is the price – starting from $23,990 for the naturally-aspirated Si model, and ranging up to at $30,190 for the turbo automatic we tested – which is great value by any measure.
Then there’s the looks – the combination of European and American styling teams have delivered a stylish coupe which will appeal to markets throughout the world. And, you can actually fit four people inside the Koup with reasonable comfort – not all players in this segment can make that claim.
As for the driving dynamics – well Kia’s 1.6-litre GDi twin-scroll turbo certainly sings when you push, but doesn’t complain when stuck in traffic and the chassis, while not outright sports car, is nicely set-up.
Kia Cerato Koup The Competition
Kia Cerato Koup’s main rival comes from within then same family – that would be the Hyundai Veloster turbo. A little pricier at $33,990 for the six-speed automatic, the Veloster still turns heads with its breakthrough three-door styling. For driving dynamics, the Veloster may be a shade sportier than the Koup.
Honda CR-Z is the standout in this league but comes with a hefty sticker of $40,790. Pin-sharp driving dynamics (although enthusiasts may question the CVT automatic) and the clever 1.5-litre hybrid drivetrain are the CR-Z’s highlights. Looks ace too.