Kia Cerato Koup 1.6T (2014) Review

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This Kia Cerato Koup is the second generation to try its hand at the SA market. The first, whilst looking the part, never really had the go to match those smart looks. This new model then gives the Cerato Koup exactly that, it gets a turbo engine with way more power and torque. The new Cerato Koup’s suspension has also been tinkered with to deliver better stability and there’s a few more sporty touches inside the cabin. Is it enough though to lift the Kia Cerato Koup into the limelight?

Powering Up

Moving on from the overawe, underperforming Koup of the previous generation, the Koreans have installed a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit to do duty in this new machine. The turbocharged petrol unit puts out a healthy 152 kW combined with 265 Nm of torque. Statistically it makes for a mouth-watering combination when you factor in a kerb weight of less than 1 300kg.

Slam your foot on the go pedal from stationary and the Koup will light up the front tyres easily, there’s also almost zero torque steer as the power is delivered smoothly to the front wheels. It revs cleanly all the way up to the mid-6000s, sounding a little disinterested despite the supposedly enhanced exhaust note to add excitement. It doesn’t feel fast and that’s probably because it isn’t, the Koup gets from 0-100kph in 7.7seconds. Whilst it may not be trying to compete with the hot hatches that do sub 7 seconds to 100 kph, the Koup could do with a  bit more thrill from its mill.

Inner Sanctum

Korean manufacturers and Kia in particular has become very good at making sure its cars come fully loaded with all the gadgetry you could want. The size of the Koup in total has been enlarged slightly, making it taller, longer and wider. That has meant that rear occupants now have a bit more headroom and the rear legroom has been increased by 51mm, which has made the rear an entirely tolerable place to endure a journey now.

The Koup also operates keylessly so you can leave the key in your pocket at all times, it also senses when the key is close to the vehicle and unfolds the side mirrors in a sort-of ‘happy to see you’ greeting. Steering wheel controls manage just about everything on the vehicle from the Bluetooth kit, radio controls, cruise control and the on-board trip meter.

There’s also a button with the picture of a steering wheel on the steering wheel. The button activates Kia’s new Flexsteer system that allows you to adjust the weight of the steering electronically. Comfort setting is extremely light, but useful if you do a lot of three-point turns. Normal setting seems just about right with decent weighting. Sport setting feels heavy and probably too heavy with minor adjustments proving to take a fair amount of effort – it tires you out after a while.

To the Point

Drill the Kia Cerato Koup through a set of bends and it’s quite an enjoyable little car. It lacks the knife-edge lift-off the throttle pedal get sliding handling that some of the driver-focused hatches have, but it’s still easy to have fun with. The Koup is well balanced through the corners and always leads towards having the front push when you ask too much of the front tyres. If you try the old lift-off technique to entice the rear out, you'll be disappointed as it doesn’t come.

It’s a safe strategy from the handling chiefs at Kia – to go with the hordes of passive and active safety systems on the Koup. That doesn’t mean to say you can’t enjoy the low-seated drive, it still does a good job of snaking through a set of bends at rapid speed.

Conclusion

For R334 995 the Kia Cerato Koup is a steady improvement over the previous generation. More power makes it a candidate to be taken seriously, but it ultimately lacks the thrills a car that looks this good could provide. Still true to its Korean roots it offers great specification inside and now has increased space so occupants aren’t cramped.

The Koup offers up a reasonably exciting driving experience through the twisty stuff, but errs on the side of safe understeer rather than the enthusiast-minded precision sharp handling of current top notch hot hatches.

Another Opinion

The Kia Cerato Koup is one of the prettier coupes on the road today. Thanks to that decent turbocharged motor, you'll get good performance too, but it's not going to keep up with the GTI brigade. Still, I think its one of the best offerings to come from Kia in ages and shows how far the brand has come. -David Taylor

2014 Kia Cerato Koup 1.6T quick specs

Engine  1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo
Power  152 kW
Torque  265 Nm
Transmission  Six-speed manual
Wheels  18-inch alloys
0-100km/h  7.7 seconds (claimed)
Fuel economy  7.2 l/100 km (claimed)
We like: . Styling . Loads of kit . More room in the back

We dislike: . Engine doesn't excite . More show than go

Also consider: . Mini Coupe Cooper S . Toyota 86

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