Test driven in April 2011
Photos by Adrian Wong
If you do not already know, the Kia Koup is the two-door coupe from the Korean manufacturer. It is actually part of the Kia Cerato Forte range and was unveiled as a concept car in 2008 at the New York International Auto Show.
Most coupes are lookers, with their stylish two-door designs, and the Koup is no exception. It is easily the best-looking Kia of the entire model range, with the revamped Kia corporate grille and headlights.
The Koup was launched in Singapore in late 2009, at a time when Kia was on a high. The successful launch of the Cerato Forte then proved that Kia is capable of building good cars which remind strongly of Continental cars. That is not surprising; as Kia pulled ex-Audi design chief Peter Schreyer over, hence the design department is well taken care of.
A good-looking transformation it made from its sedan counterpart, giving a strong external presence with its aggressive lines and rims that remind me of those on MINI cars. It’s not difficult to notice a Koup from afar, but some might turn away after seeing the badge or express surprise at the badge.
You might find this review familiar as the Koup was test driven before, but the new 2011 Koup sees some changes and minor enhancements, of which the biggest change is the six-speed gearbox for its automatic models.
Previously, the Koup was on a four-speed gearbox and felt like it could do with one or two more gear ratios. True enough, the 2011 version of the Koup is refreshed with a six-speed gearbox and this helps especially in the area of fuel economy. Taking the 1.6-litre automatic version out, the drive felt a bit sluggish with a call for greater things out of it, but essentially it is a typical economy car with nice clothes on.
Performance in terms of power and torque sees no change, with the Koup still offering a maximum of 124bhp at 6,300rpm and 156Nm at 4,200rpm. Its zero to 100km/h sprint time has improved very slightly – 0.3 seconds less than before – to 11.5 seconds now.
You can choose to use the +/- manual selector on the gear lever or the paddle shifts mounted on the steering wheel to deliver your desired performance from within its capabilities.
Start the car up with the engine start-stop button and get comfortable in the seat, or allow some sunlight in through the sunroof to infuse natural daylight into the car. The test drive unit came in red and this matched the red-inspired interior of the Koup very well.
There were black seats within with pretty red trimmings, red stitching all around the cabin, red-outlined floor mats, red background hues of the speedometer and the red-lit speakers on the doors. I was very amused by these speakers, which had its red lights blinking to the beat of the music being played through the radio or through your personal iPhone or iPod connected to the car.
I find the centre console a bit lacking in presence, which is a tad sad after all that effort to impress. The dials and controls are very clearly defined, but maybe it is the digitalised numbers – coincidentally in red too – that didn’t seem to work out for me. Space within the Koup both front and back is ample, including the boot which is generous of a coupe.
When the Koup was launched, the COE prices had not reached its outrageous levels of recent times, hence it was a very good deal for an entry-level coupe. Retailing from levels starting at slightly less than $60,000 with COE (for the basic 1.6-litre Koup manual) then, the Koup was honestly too good to resist! COE prices have increased dramatically yes, but relative to its competitors it is still a decent deal.
As before, the Koup is available in two variants – 1.6-litre or 2-litre – and also in manual or automatic transmission. The non-facelift Koup model is about $6,000 less for the 1.6-litre one, and about $9,000 less for the higher 2-litre variant.
In November 2010, the sales for 2010 of the Cerato Forte and the Koup made it to Singapore’s top 10 best selling cars, giving the Japanese carmakers a huge threat of worry. As the Cerato Forte and Koup are of the same model range, it might have been the number one car in Singapore if the sales of both models were combined.
That’s how important looks and functionality at the right price is.
2011 Kia Koup 1.6 SX 6-speed (A)
Engine: 1,591cc inline-4 16v DOHC CVVT
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Max Power: 124bhp at 6,300rpm
Max Torque: 156Nm at 4,200rpm
0-100km/h: 11.5 secs
Top Speed: 190km/h
Price: $89,999 with COE
Distributor: Cycle & Carriage Kia