Kia Cerato Koup
Say hello to our little Monday-to-Friday friend, Kia’s sweet (orange) new Cerato Koup.
Picking up a new car is always a thrill. Whatever budget and whatever taste, whether it’s a hot-hatch or a supercar, it’s that new-car anticipation and feeling of pride that makes it a very special day. And so it was when we picked Tarmac’s brand new (with 414km run-in km) long-termer, a 2010 Kia Cerato Koup.
Admittedly a little left-field of what’s expected, we’re not badge snobs and saw the Kia’s attributes and its value as key aspects of car buying. Of course we’d love an Evo X or Nissan GT-R, but there’s that saying of champagne taste on a beer budget. Our budget is bore water.
With just four basic colours, we were excited to see the addition of two more special order tones for 2011. Though the Lime Twist is eye-catching, our chosen Sweet Orange, offers something a little different that’s not too way out. Driving around in this car, you soon realise how many other manufacturers produce a similar hue: like the Mazda2 and Nissan 350Z. The curious thing about the colour is how reactive it is to sunlight, going from an electric golden metallic, to a flat bronze in the shade.
Colloquially shortened to Kia Koup, the two-door version of the Cerato offers plenty for not much; which is exactly why we chose it for our six-month trial. The headlines are a 2.0-litre four-cylinder good for 115kW, 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds (manual) and almost every mod-con.
Plus the sharp looking coupe body looks right out of Europe. Being part of Kia’s latest offensive, true to current Korean products, the quality is high but the price is low: the Koup starts at $24,990 drive-away, which is impressive value given the equipment list.
After trying both the manual and auto version, we opted for the four-speed self-shifter for a number of reasons: the manual, while faster to 100km/h, isn’t as responsive around town, and despite one less gear, at part throttle – where it will spend most of it life - the auto’s torque converter makes it a slightly nicer drive.
A rather Mazda3like three gauge/red-lit instrument cluster sweeps nicely to the centre console dominated by the large climate control dial, and it’s all very logical and well laid out - but it’s the list of gear that impresses more: like 17-inch alloys, a faux diffuser and black front bumper accents that give the Koup and aggressive stance. Inside there’s a heap of gear, like smart-iPod input, comfortable seats, plenty of steering adjustment, and a long list of extras as standard: everything from the multi-display trip computer, steering wheel/cruise controls, six-speaker sound, alloy pedals, one-touch front and rear demisting and a decently large glovebox. There’s ESP, six airbags, seat-belt pre-tensioners and speed/impact sensing door locks, along with heaps of storage bins, including a split-level armrest; sun-visor extensions, 60/40 seats with remote pull-releases in the boot, even rear parking sensors with a dash display showing where the object is – short of sounding like a brochure, it’s all these things that make the basic task of commuting such a pleasure.
Really, the only thing lacking is sat-nav, and with just $200 buying a good TomTom unit or iPhone app, it doesn’t seem to matter much.
And that’s the whole point. With our Hankook Evo X program, we’re looking for a daily driver that’s well equipped, comfortable, looks good and isn’t too expensive. It doesn’t need to be fast, but it shouldn’t be slow and it can’t burn up too much fuel – the racecar manages that more than enough!
Negative observations? Ride quality is definitely firm and fussy so we’re hoping that might free-up over time, and after the first few tanks of suburban driving, our average of 10.7l/100km is a little over the claim of 7.9l/100km - but the engine ‘has’ just ticked over 1000km, and we’ll need to see how it sips on the freeway with some more km under its belt. Interestingly, we managed to fill 54.2 litres of fuel into the 52-litre tank, so we hate to think how close we were to running out.
With a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, it all adds up to a quite convincing case, if you appreciate how well built Korean cars have become. We’ll see if we share the same level of enthusiasm after six months.
Kia Cerato Koup
Engine: 2.0-litre four
Gearbox: Four-speed auto
Power to weight: 11.0kg/kW
Price: $26,990 (auto, drive-away)
Km driven: 1100km
Fuel use: 10.7l/100km (7.9 claim)
Tarmac rating: A
+ Looks, equipment
- Firm, jittery ride