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Not An Automatic Choice: Kia Koup Turbo.

Kia has, at the moment, one of the most fun cars around, the Pro_ceed GT. It comes with a six speed manual transmission only, bolted to a firecracker of a 1.6L turbo engine. It’s the manual transmission that makes it such fun to drive and the incredible flexibility of the powerplant, with 265 Newton metres of torque across a rev range of nearly 3000 revs, make it superbly usable. Kia have the Cerato range, a four door sedan, five door hatch or two door coupe, with the option of both manual and auto gearboxes, plus offering, for the Koup, a choice of 2.0L naturally aspirated engine or the same engine as found in the Pro_ceed. A Wheel Thing was lobbed the key to the Abyss Blue coloured Koup ($30710 on road with metalic paint), complete with turbo engine and automatic transmission (Koup is available with optional Touring Pack). Is it as much fun with a self shifter?Profile2

NoseThe Cerato is a good looker on the outside, with soft curves replacing the previous sharp Rear2edged version. Changing to the two door styling from a sleek looking sedan adds a touch of menace to its stance, along with the chunky 225/40/18 tyres wrapping some pretty sexy alloys. The sheetmetal is smooth, curvy, with the front sporting a well balanced look. Driving lamps at each bottom corner frame a large grille, with the headlight clusters rolling back into the fenders split yet joined by a narrow grille. In profile there’s a lightly scalloped lower section while a crease line draws the eye to the angular C pillar and “neon tube” look tail lights. Folding mirrors (black on Turbo, body colour on Si) complete the front section.
The interior is a subtle mix of black, grey, faux carbon fibre, faux leather and cloth. Seats are comfortable but lack decent lateral support, the cloth is a mix of black and grey and sits in between the faux leather bolsters. Rear seat access is typically slightly tricky, with a latch on the shoulders of the seats lifted to fold and roll forward. The seatbelts run through a pivot arm which gets in the way of anyone trying to exit when the front seats have been occupied. SeatsThe dash plastics are hard and there’s a mix of the matt black plastic look and faux carbon fibre strips housing the air vents.Dash As usual the aircon controls are simple to use with a clear layout, the 5 inch touchscreen head unit and dials are easy to use and read and there’s the usual expected assortment of steering wheel mounted controls for audio and cruise control. Ahead of the gear lever is a small storage space which also houses the USB and Auxiliary inputs. The steering column is adjustable for both reach and rake (in/out and up/down). Naturally there’s plenty of safety built in, such as VSM (Vehicle Stability Management) and HSC (Hill Start Control), parking sensors front and rear, reverse camera and airbags all around. Cargo space isn’t bad considering the design, being rated at 433L capacity.Bootspace

WheelOn the road the Aussie spec suspension is supple, yet firm, with the meaty tyres providing plenty of grip on both tarmac and gravel/dirt surfaces. No, it’s not its normal environment yet some backroads near Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, proved that the engineering work put into the Koup certainly pays dividends and the ride on gravel was surprisingly good. Lateral grip is great, straight line handling is direct and there’s minimal float over undulations, the suspension pulling the Koup into line quickly. Feedback through the steering is artificial with Kia’s three mode electric settings adding nothing for a natural feel. Naturally there’s paddle shifts behind the tiller.Profile1
Kia quotes 265Nm from 1750 through to 4500 revs and in the manual GT that torque really works. You can sink the slipper in any gear and it simply rockets along….in the auto, it’s diminished, muted, restrained under 3000 rpm. When the go pedal is prodded hard, it drops back a Enginecouple of gears and makes a lot of noise. Once it reaches 3000 then that urge, felt earlier in the manual, seems to make an appearance.

The question was raised at the beginning:is it as much fun with an automatic as it is (engine and gearbox combination) with a manual? No. It’s not. The auto saps the life and performance of the engine and therefore the fun. It’s also more thirsty than the manual which that was noticeable around town and oddly, the turbo weighs more than the standard engined Si 2.0L Koup…
The Cerato Koup isn’t marketed as a hot hatch, nor a warm one. The manual transmission and turbo combination works; for me, the automatic doesn’t.

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Model Range: Cerato Koup, Si and Turbo.
Engines: 2.0L petrol or 1.6L turbo petrol.
Power: 129kW @6500rpm/150kW @6000rpm.
Torque: 209Nm @4700rpm/265Nm @1750-4500rpm.
Fuel: Unleaded.
Tank: 50L.
Transmission: six speed manual (six speed auto optionable).
Driven wheels: Front.
LWH: 4530mm x 1780mm x 1410mm.
Wheelbase: 2700mm.
Wheels/Tyres: Si 17 inch, 215/45/R17. Turbo: 18 inch, 225/40/R18.
Luggage space: 433L
Consumption: 7.3L/100km 2.0L man, 7.4L/100km 2.0L auto, 7.7L/100km 1.6L man, 8.0L/100km 1.6L auto (combined).
Weight: 1284kg/2.0L man, 1307kg/2.0L auto, 1334kg/1.6L man, 1360kg/1.6L auto.
Price: RRP $30190 Koup Turbo, metallic paint $520, as tested $30710.
Warranty: Five year, unlimited kilometre.
Safety rating: ANCAP five star.