CAR REVIEW: 2011 Kia Koup

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

Test driven in April 2011

Photos by Adrian Wong

284036_10150250369442710_602152709_7206333_4502638_nIf 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.

261821_10150250369947710_602152709_7206340_7712843_nA 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.

262027_10150250369647710_602152709_7206336_5033835_nYou 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.


284627_10150250384747710_602152709_7206460_5405978_n261979_10150250384607710_602152709_7206459_7790207_nThere 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.

268341_10150250369777710_602152709_7206337_5340687_n263125_10150250384107710_602152709_7206450_7065381_nI 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.

269058_10150250384197710_602152709_7206452_1535464_nWhen 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.

264653_10150250369862710_602152709_7206339_2134872_nAs 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.

281496_10150250368897710_602152709_7206329_2280336_nIn 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.

283451_10150250369067710_602152709_7206330_248920_n2011 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

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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