In bright acid green, with charcoal black wheels and window tints, the Kia Koup looked like a concept car and I couldn’t wait to drive it
But that version belonged to the boss. The test car came in hot red – with the ‘Koup’ across the windscreen a nod to my inner girl-racer.
Not that this Koup is a hoon-mobile. It’s the two-door coupe variant of the sensible Cerato sedan, sharing its platform, underpinnings and engine. It’s not a hot car, it’s the good-looking boy or girl next door dressed up to party – yet nice enough to take home to mum.
Koup’s party frock is a body radically different to Cerato. The roofline sits 50mm lower, and the suspension’s dropped 10mm. Putting the same wheelbase into a shorter and slightly narrower body pushed the wheels out to the corners, enhancing the athleticism of the car’s sculpted lines.
But there’s a bill to pay, and that’s reduced rear seat room – though the boot remains a useful 336 litres – and less headroom. Which didn’t bother me, I had seat height adjust, but taller passengers might complain.
As for on-road feel, there’s good news and bad. This 115kW/194Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission feels muscular enough at lower revs, though less so at speed – a six-speed would be nice to see.
Still, that low-down punch suited the car’s looks. The handling doesn’t. It’s not bad – it’s average. Average suits Cerato’s safe-n-sensible flavour but not this car’s hot looks.
However – that may not be a bad thing. Plenty of folk want a cutting edge image that’s easy-care, whether it’s clothes, interior design or their car. Koup’s engine does everything your everyday car requires and delivers it frugally – averaging 7.7l/100km despite my hilly semi-rural life.
The cabin’s smart, too, enhanced by supportive seats and clearly laid out controls with the black-on-black severity lifted by different surface finishes and a few bright accents.
Access to the rear seats is reasonable, and you could fit two compact adults back there thought they might feel a tad claustrophobic. Still, they’ll be impressed with the goodies on offer at this SX’s $33,990 price.
As well as the standard ABS brakes, six airbags and stability control there are rear park sensors, leather seats, fog lamps, iPod and USB input, climate control air, steering wheel mounted cruise and stereo controls, UV tinted windows and a power sun roof.
Tot all that up and it’s not too surprising the base car could only afford cut-price suspenders – and gets a noisy ride; consider a change come tyre-replacement time.
Koup will certainly have competition from New Zealand’s almost unlimited used-car market. But with the demise of Hyundai’s coupe, Honda’s Integra and Nissan’s 200SX there isn’t another new coupe available that’s anything like this affordable.
Me? I’d wait for a better suspension set-up, even if it may mean a higher price tag. Koup looks classy enough to take it.