The Kia Koup has always looked the part, but now it has a turbocharged engine. Is there finally enough go to match the show?
Base price: $42,490.
Powertrain and performance: 1.6-litre turbo petrol four, 150kW/265Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 8.0 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4530mm long, 1420mm high, wheelbase 2700mm, luggage capacity 433 litres, fuel tank 50 litres, 18-inch alloy wheels on 225/40 tyres.
We like: Swish looks, performance boost from turbo engine, nicely finished.
We don’t like: Not as fast as you’d think, not as dynamic as you’d hope, thirsty.
How it rates: 7/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? The Kia Koup has not done much to promote literacy, but at launch back in 2009 it was notable for bring a stylish two-door body shape back into the mainstream.
Things have changed a bit in the five years since, with the return of truly sporty affordable coupes like the Toyota 86. So it’s fair to say that the Koup can no longer survive on good looks alone, which is perhaps why Kia has upped the ante in the second-generation version by adding a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? Like a Cerato sedan, which is basically what the Koup is under the skin. So a sports car it is not, but it is a small coupe with good road manners.
The switchable-mode steering, which allows you to choose between three levels of weight for the electric assistance, remains a gimmick (and one that Kia is now moving away from in newer models).
But the rest of the chassis is nicely balanced and predictable. The ride is firm but not fussy; Kia has not repeated the mistake it made with the first-generation Koup, which seemed to equate sportiness with rock-hard suspension.
The engine, which is shared with parent company Hyundai’s Veloster turbo, provides a pleasant boost to the Koup’s performance but real-world get-up-and-go doesn’t quite match the expectations created by the on-paper power and torque outputs.
Some of the blame may lie with the six-speed automatic transmission, which is smooth but does seem to take the edge off the Koup’s acceleration. It’s thirsty, too: a Combined figure of 8.0 litres per 100km is quite high for a small car and it’s not hard to push it well into double figures. Wouldn’t be such an issue if it was truly rapid – but the Koup turbo is more in the brisk category.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? As a two-plus-two the Koup is nicely executed. Kia still has the edge over Hyundai in interior quality and design and the Koup is a good example, with crisp lines and tactile surfaces inside the cabin.
It’s well-equipped, with satellite navigation via a bright seven-inch touch screen and little luxuries like leather upholstery and heated seats in the front. Plus Kia’s signature SX-specification oddity of cooling for the driver’s chair only.
What the Koup doesn’t offer inside is anything vastly different from the Cerato. It’s the same dashboard architecture and dials – not a problem in an absolute sense as the Cerato is a well-thought-out and nicely finished car, but it does mean that the Koup doesn’t feel special from behind the wheel if you’re already familiar with its more prosaic siblings.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? The extra performance of the turbo engine is a welcome addition to the Koup, but it doesn’t change the fundamental character of this car: it’s still a fashion-first two-door that will be bought for its striking looks rather than its dynamic character.
You could argue there’s nothing wrong with that because Kia can offer the enthusiast an alternative in the form of the Proceed GT, a European-specification hot-hatch. We’ve not driven that model, but by all accounts it’s a sharper, more satisfying drive. So Kia has one model for show (Koup) and another for go (Proceed GT).
- Air conditioning: Dual climate
- Audio: CD, iPod compatible
- Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
- Blind spot warning: No
- Bluetooth: Yes
- Cruise control: Yes
- Driver footrest: Yes
- Head-up display: No
- Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/Driver only
- Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
- Lane guidance: No
- Leather upholstery: Part leather
- Parking radar: Yes with camera
- Power boot or tailgate: Yes
- Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/No
- Rear ventilation outlets: No
- Remote audio controls: Yes
- Satellite navigation: Yes
- Seat height adjustment: Yes
- Self-parking technology: No
- Steering reach adjustment: Yes
- Stop-start: No
- Trip computer: Yes
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