Kia Koup

It’s no great secret that the Springbok rugby team are currently suffering from a period of turmoil. They’ve endured 5 defeats in this year’s Tri-Nations series, cementing their position at the bottom of the table with resounding boo’s from the Bloemfontein crowd.

In the wake of what can only be described as a dismal defence of the trophy, anyone and everyone with even the remotest link to the game has offered their two cents worth on what went wrong and where we can improve. Even Gareth Cliff, who we all know has little-to-no knowledge of any sport, has offered his advice to the Springbok administration.

I’d like to focus on the comments of some-or-other sports writer, who wrote about the fact that Brian Habana bore the brunt of the booing from the unrelenting Bloemfontein locals. His piece came in response to comments from another underperforming Bok, Morne Steyn, who stood up in defence of his former Bulls team-mate.

What his article boils down to is that the South African public should respect a player like Brian Habana, or any of the other senior players for that matter, because of the service they have offered to the Springboks over the last few years. And by applying a bit of logic that includes their role in winning the 2007 World Cup and 2009 Tri-Nations, which in turn implies that it’s their reputations we should respect.

This I have to admit I agree with one hundred percent. These players brought glory back to South African rugby after a period of darkness (see 1999 and 2003 World Cup performances coupled with all the Tri-Nations blunders in between). Unfortunately the reputation of a player only offers a limited time frame of support when he’s going through a rough patch. Something Bok selectors and coaching staff fail to recognise, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of Player 23.

I’m a firm believer in form. When a player is in form it means they’re playing with confidence and it almost becomes something tangible that the player carries around the field, rubbing off on the rest of the team. When you have key players – senior players – who wonder around the field looking a bit lost, it too rubs off on the rest of the team.

In my opinion the root of the problem is that established members of the team appear to have become a bit too comfortable. Something Jake White agrees with. If you’re guaranteed a place in the starting line up the temptation exists to let little things slide here and there, meaning you’re not as sharp as when you were fighting for your place in the team.

The established players need to be rattled and I hope someone realises this before the 2011 World Cup.

Likewise I see this problem in the motor industry. A few years back, Toyota had a strangle hold on the South African car market. Everyone had a Conquest (Tazz) or a Corolla. VW, for example, were there or thereabouts but nothing special really. However something changed in the last ten years which has seen the Japanese manufacturer lose its grip and VW now owns the market.

And it was exactly what I’ve been talking about with the Springboks. Toyota became too comfortable, subsequently they lost their form. The difference is that the public only hang on to reputation for so long (just ask Brian). VW were there to pick up the pieces and now you can’t even go to the shops without seeing a million Polo’s on the way. You might struggle to find a new Toyota though.

I recently tested the new Polo. Well I say “new” Polo but I use the term quite lightly. Apart from the exterior detailing nothing has changed since the 2002 model. Can anyone else see history repeating itself here?

My prediction for who will pick up the pieces after VW has made a mess of things is Kia. And yes I can see a number of jaws have just hit the floor. But I’ve had a go in the Soul, Cerato and now the Koup and I have nothing but praise for the Korean manufacturer.

Kia KoupThe Koup is a two door sports saloon modelled on the floorplan of a Cerato and put simply, it looks incredible. There are few cars which I remember seeing for the first time – I don’t even remember the first time I saw a Ferrari – but the Koup is one of those I remember. Its wide stance, flared arches and rear diffuser give it a muscle car appeal which can’t be matched for the price.

It’s not slow either. The two litre, four cylinder engine taken from the Cerato offers 114kW of go to match the show. There were a few issues however. The engine appears to squeal when climbing the higher rungs of the rev band when a meatier exhaust note would round off the experience. There was also an annoying pause between dropping the clutch and any form of forward movement, not a long pause, but enough to hinder late night dragging between the lights.

On the handling front the Koup takes all its cues from the Cerato. So the steering still suffers from a slightly artificial feel thanks to a primitive variable steering rack. The suspension is also rather firm, and by firm I mean bloody hard which is not only uncomfortable, but vaguely disconcerting in fast, uneven corners.

Don’t let these issues put you off though. The immaculate styling and bargain price tag make up for the Koup’s downfalls in bucket loads.

Now let me add some perspective. Take the 1.6 litre Polo for example. With all the gadgets the Kia has standard, the Polo costs a whopping R 231,354. The Golf 6 is in a whole new price stratosphere. Now tell me VW doesn’t need to be rattled. 

Price: R 215,995
Engine: 1998cc four cylinder petrol
Power: 114kW
Torque: 194Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.3
Top speed (km/h): 190
Fuel consumption (l/100km): 7.7 (claimed) 

Miles Downard
Photo Credit: Quickpic

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