I was looking forward to this drive as the car was finally getting some real go to match the show in the form of a direct petrol injection turbocharged engine.
But for some strange reason the Koreans decided that we would only be exposed to the automatic model on the launch. Some of us came home and wrote about the disappointment we felt after experiencing this derivative. The impressive numbers on paper, 152 kW at 6000 rpm and 265 Nm between 1750 rpm to 4500 rpm, just never translated to the road.
We were told by our local South African Kia people that when we experience the manual derivative our minds would be changed. Well recently a bright red Kia Cerato Koup 1.6T GDI manual arrived at our offices for a road test.
I really like the styling of the car; it is sleeker, longer and wider than the previous car and also runs a significantly extended wheelbase. But was I expecting much from it? Not really to be absolutely blunt. I had been disappointed once before, but I started enjoying the peppy nature of the powerplant from the moment I started driving the car.
What a difference. This felt like we had all the rated power and running the Koup up and down the rev range was proving to be fun. But fun is one thing. I am in the business of bringing you the bottom line when it comes to road test data. So off to the Gerotek Test Facility I went to get some real numbers under the belt.
I can say that the Koup did not disappoint. It ran a very decent 0-100km/h time of 7.61 seconds, did the quarter mile in 15.56 seconds at 147.48km/h, the 1km run in 28.62 seconds at 187.22km/h while going to a top speed of 228.45km/h.
Was there a downside at this point? I have to say that there was in that the fuel consumption figures you achieved was closely related to the way you used the accelerator pedal. Yes I know this is always the case from a technical point of view but the Koup liked its fuel. With a fair amount of restraint I managed to get the number down to 9.3 litres per 100 km, but it would easily go over 10 litres per 100 km when provoked and as such made getting to the claimed 7.2 litres a bit of a long stretch.
Now this is not Kia SAs claimed number. I read this number off the obligatory emissions sticker fixed to the windscreen of the Koup. Kia no longer make mention of claimed fuel consumption figures in marketing and press material these days because of what is fast becoming a controversial issue. The way C02 emissions are measured and fuel consumption figures obtained by manufacturers overseas within a closely controlled computer environment is so far detached from reality it is not funny.
The figures rarely, if ever, correspond to what you can expect from your car on the road. And this problem is for some reason somewhat worse for the new generation of smaller capacity turbocharged cars over their older naturally aspirated offerings. And as the fuel price goes up and budgets get tighter, more and more customers are complaining about this problem and expecting some sort of solution that is not forthcoming.
But enough of that. Back to the Koup. Handling is good without being overly sporty and hard, and surprisingly the FlexSteer system that provides three different settings (or weights) for the steering to match your preference from Normal to Sport and Comfort modes didn’t feel all that bad this time around. I did eventually just leave it in Normal mode, as I am sure most owners will.
Active and passive safety is well taken care of too in the form of active headrests, Isofix child seat anchors, ESC (Electronic Stability Control), HAC (Hill-start Assist Control), VSM (Vehicle Stability Management), front and rear parking sensors, HID (High Intensity Discharge) Xenon headlamps with built-in LED daytime running lights and front LED bordered fog lamps along with six airbags: dual front, side and curtain airbags.
Staying inside, the driver-focused cockpit places all the major and minor controls within easy-to-operate reach with some nicely placed carbon-look trim around the place for added affect.
You also get plush leather seats, soft-touch materials that are used on the upper door trims, dashboard, door armrests, door centre trim panels and the centre console to go with the usual luxury befitting a car that sets you back R334 995.
While the new Koup is wider and higher than its predecessor, and its ability to provide generous space for passengers and cargo has been enhanced it is said, it is still a bit of a squeeze for the rear seat passengers.
The all new Kia Cerato Koup 1.6T GDI manual is a proper all rounder with a decent amount of urge and lots of quality on show. It is not cheap though but I would still take it over something like the Alfa Romeo MiTo.