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Driven: Turbo Kia Koup arrives at $27,990

Blown the Koup: Kia's second generation Koup is the first turbocharged petrol engined Kia to go on sale in Australia.

Kia’s sub-$30,000 turbo Koup takes the fight to Hyundai Veloster SR and Toyota 86

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Kia logo16 Oct 2013

KIA this week launched its first proper sportscar in Australia, the force-fed Cerato Koup Turbo, with a red hot starting price of $27,990 plus on-road costs.

As such, the slinky second-generation Koup flagship, and the first Kia to feature a blown petrol engine, undercuts the base version of its (less powerful, but rear-drive) Toyota 86 arch-rival by some $2000, and the mechanically-identical Hyundai Veloster SR turbo by $4000.

Sporting a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine, the range-topping front-drive Koup packs 150kW/265Nm and leaps from zero to 100km/h in 7.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 222 km/h. No passenger car offers more power for the money.

The base price refers to six-speed manual versions, although a six-speed auto with paddles can be had for additional $2200.

Kia will also continue to offer a naturally aspirated version sporting the familiar 129kW/209 Nm 2.0-litre normally aspirated engine from the Cerato hatchback, priced from $23,990 – a $600 jump over the old entry price of the outgoing 115kW/194 Nm Koup.

The turbo Koup marks Kia’s first step into the genuine sportscar market, with the previous-generation version never featuring the pace to match its style.

Kia will complement this new model with the European-built Pro_Cee’d Turbo from early next year, featuring the same 1.6 turbo engine.

That car will be targeted at entry hot hatches such as the Ford Focus ST, while the Koup you see here is pitched firmly at Sports Segment luminaries such as the 86, Subaru BRZ and its Veloster SR twin-under-the-skin.

The top performing turbo variant manages the fastest acceleration when optioned with the “multi-mode” automatic transmission, while self-serve manual versions forfeit three-tenths (7.7s to 100km/h).

Conversely, the manual variant is the fastest of the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated Koups, clocking a 0-100km/h dash in 8.4 seconds, compared to 8.9 seconds for the automatic.

Kia’s 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder (named Gamma) forced-induction spearhead comes with technology including variable timing on both inlet and exhaust camshafts, and direct fuel injection.

A single twin-scroll turbocharger generates 17psi of boost pressure, which is piped through to the all-aluminium engine via an air-to-air intercooler and has a combined fuel consumption of 7.7 litres per 100km (manual gearbox).

Kia claims the Turbo’s specially tuned exhaust system produces a “sporty tone” between 1000 and 4000 rpm and is 10 to 15dB louder than the Si exhaust note.

The “Nu” 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is also has an aluminium block and cylinder-head and shares the variable inlet camshaft timing from the Gamma engine but not on the exhaust camshaft.

Combined fuel consumption of the normally aspirated engine is 7.3 l/100km when combined with the manual gearbox.

Suspension architecture is shared with its two sister cars (the Cerato sedan and hatchback). The MacPerson strut front and torsion-bar rear set up has been tuned specifically for Australia resulting in a stiffer spring-rate and uprated dampers.

Front brake discs have also been uprated and enlarged from 280mm to 300mm for the Turbo to cope with the extra performance potential, and the electric steering on both models has a quicker ratio of 15.1:1 compared to the Cerato sedan.

Steering weight and feel can be altered from the lightest Comfort setting through Normal to the heaviest Sport via a steering-wheel mounted button.

The new Koup is slightly larger than the outgoing model with a 15mm increase to width (1780mm) and 10mm added to its height (1410mm), while a 50mm stretch to its wheelbase also translates to the same extension to overall length (4530mm).

Despite the overall increase to exterior dimensions, the new Koup is now more aerodynamic with a reduced drag coefficient from 0.31 to 0.30.

Taller passengers will be happier in the new Koup thanks to growth on the inside too, with rear-seat headroom up by 28mm, shoulder width increased by 15mm and legroom boosted by 51mm.

Boot capacity is also up and the 433 litre luggage area is easier to load with a 60mm wider opening, and the space and access can be boosted further still by 60:40 split-folding rear seats.

Turbo seats get half imitation leather trim and a black roof-lining while Si versions settle for full cloth and a grey ceiling.

A dot-matrix LCD information cluster nestles between chrome-ringed speedo and tachometer, and entertainment and cruise-control switches are located on the two-axis adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Interior noise has been reduced by fitting a new three-layer “HMP3 noise lowering pad” in the engine bay, Ethylene Vinyl Acetate coating to the cabin floor and “thinsuator” filling to the wheel-arches and interior trims.

The engine is also sits on vibration-absorbing dual-frequency mounts and a dynamic dampener reduces vibration from the driveshafts.

The net result is a reduction of idle noise by 1 decibel, acceleration noise by 2dB and cabin cruising noise levels at 110km/h are 65dB.

Styling cues from the previous model remain but a new-look Koup comes as a result of a complete body restyle (only the bonnet and front wings are shared with Cerato).

The repositioning of the maker’s name-badge, modified grilles and enlarged air-intakes differentiate the new model from the outgoing version.

Turbo variants get 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Nexen tyres (an inch larger than on the 2.0-litre), and gloss black door mirrors and handles, plus the addition of side-skirts, a carbon-look rear diffuser and an extra tailpipe complete the makeover.

Racing Red and Abyss Blue standard paint choices add nothing to the pricetag though ‘premium’ colours Snow White Pearl, Aurora Black, Bright Silver and Metal Stream carry a $520 cost.

63 per cent of the Koup’s passenger cell is constructed of high-tensile steel, which has increased torsional rigidity by 37 per cent boosting occupancy protection and is further increased by six airbags.

On-road safety is increased with electronic driver assistance programs including ESC, ABS, hills start and emergency stop signalling, which turns on the hazard lights when heavy braking is applied.

Si variants get as standard keyless entry, cruise-control, a six-speaker MP3 compatible radio/CD player, Bluetooth, front and rear parking sensors with rear camera, electric folding mirrors and UV filtering glass.

A step up to Turbo variants adds LED rear and daytime running lights, a cooled glovebox, self dimming rear view mirror and keyless start.

A $2200 Touring pack upgrades the Turbo equipment to leather upholstery, a seven-inch touch screen with satellite navigation and DVD player, dual-zone air-conditioning and an auto de-fogging function.

As with all Kia cars, the new Koup gets a five-year/unlimited kilometer warranty.

2014 Kia Koup pricing*
2.0L GDi Si$23,990
2.0L GDi Si (a)$26,190
1.6L T-GDi Turbo$27,990
1.6L T-GDi Turbo (a)$30,190
*Excludes on-road costs.

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