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Road Tests

Kia Koup T-GDI

Kia has spent its history playing catch up with Western car manufacturers and in doing so hasn’t really focussed on the performance car market. Which is a good thing in my books; everyone should learn to crawl before they run.

Fast forward to 2014 and there’s no doubt that Kia are now running; they have a range of vehicles that compete in almost every segment, they look great, are well equipped, offer value for money and are built solidly.

So, the logical step is to move into the performance market and the Koup is the perfect vehicle with which to do it. The first generation Koup had all the Kia trademarks; most especially it’s striking good looks. However there wasn’t much go to match the show. But that’s now been sorted with the introduction of some turbo power.

On the outside

This second generation Kia Koup has lost some of the aggressive lines that were so prominent on the outgoing model. It’s softer somehow, more rounded at the front and back. But that sleek appearance plays into Kia’s definition of the Koup; which is more gran tourer than hot-hatch. So this model is longer, wider and a bit higher all with the aim of providing more interior space. There’s definitely a sense of sophistication to the new design which works really well.

On the inside

The bigger dimensions have translated into more cabin space, especially at the rear. Two adults will fit comfortably on the back seats; which is a lot more than you can say for a lot of coupes. The rear overhang also increased in size leaving a capacious boot to say the least. All this space translates into an exceptionally comfortable place to sit, helped along by wider seats with deeper side bolsters.

As with all Kia’s new vehicles, the interior is well appointed and built to last. There are plush leather seats, soft-touch materials all around the cabin and a neat, uncluttered centre consol. Gadgets are plentiful too; like Bluetooth, cruise control, automatics lights etc.

Behind the wheel

Under the bonnet lies a 1.6 litre turbo charged motor producing 152kW and 265 torques, which in my test car was mated to a six speed manual gearbox. The Kia Koup will sprint from 0 to 100km/h in 7.4 seconds and go on to 224km/h at the top end.

My initial impression was that these figures were disappointing. Quoting 152kW sounds mighty impressive, but the torque lets this package down somewhat in the acceleration stakes. The power delivery is very smooth though; with little turbo lag and a nice band in which the torque is available. The gearbox is slick and the clutch has a bit more feel than in the standard Cerato sedan/hatch. The specially tuned exhaust note adds a welcome gargle between 1000 and 4000 rpm.

To up the handling stakes, Kia has stiffened the subframe, the lower suspension arms have larger diameter bushes and the steering rack was moved forward to improve on-centre feel. Damping is controlled by gas-filled dampers front and rear.

The result isn’t particularly great; thanks mainly to the electric power steering which numbs feedback. The addition of Kia’s flex-steer steering modes (Comfort, Normal and Sport) only add to the unnatural sensation that is evident when flicking through a series of fast corners.

Verdict

Don’t consider the Kia Koup as a hot-hatch competitor; it has much more merit as a GT car. It spacious cabin, comfortable seats, large boot and effortless power delivery make this the perfect car to settle in to for a long haul. The fact that it’ll dart between the traffic lights with a nifty turn of pace is a nice something extra; just don’t pit yourself against anything with a GTi badge on its grille if you aren’t prepared for the inevitable humiliation that will follow.

Price: R334 995
Engine: 1591cc four cylinder turbocharged petrol
Power: 152 kW
Torque: 265 Nm
Acceleration (0-100km/h): 7.4
Top Speed (km/h): 224
Consumption (l/100km): 7.7 (claimed)
Service: 5yr/90 000km service plan

Kia Koup T-GDI was last modified: May 21st, 2014 by Miles Downard

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