2012 Kia Cerato Koup SLS review – quick spin

On looks alone, the 2012 Kia Cerato Koup SLS will win you over. Step inside, and you think, ‘hmm, not bad for a relatively inexpensive sporty two-door’. In our short time with the Kia Koup, we have come away scratching our heads, as there are a some other serious contenders in the Koup’s price range ($26,990).

2012 KIA CERATO KOUP SLS PROS AND CONS

PROS:

  • The suave exterior – clean sharp edges, appealing compact looks
  • Decent boot space for a coupe
  • Punchy pulling power from down low and willingness to rev
  • User-friendly in-car controls and equipment
  • Rear diffuser looks the goods
  • Fuel economy was good for mix of highway and city driving – 7.9-litres per 100km average

CONS:

  • Leather on the seats feels very hard and slippery
  • The gear shift feels like a stick in a bucket of thick elastic bands
  • The engine has a slight hesitation in revs when you change up gears in a ‘sporty’ manner
  • Revs sit too high on the freeway
  • Adults need not try and sit in the back as head room is extremely limited – you will have to slide down in the seat, and bend your head down to fit
  • Steering doesn’t have the responsiveness you expect for such a sporty-looking coupe

2012 KIA CERATO KOUP SLS DRIVING EXPERIENCE

You can’t help but feel a tad ‘hip’ stepping into the 2012 Kia Cerato Koup SLS. It seems like one of those Korean cars you don’t have to defend for, or be afraid of showing to your friends – it’s just cool. On looks anyway.

It comes with 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine, offering 115kW and 194Nm. It’s beefy and always has decent power reserves for sifting through traffic. It does tend to die a smidgen at the sight of a hill though – this could be down to the gear ratios not being ideal for Australian roads.

Handling-wise, the steering off dead centre does feel a bit numb for about an eighth of a turn as you start to come to a bend, but the compact 2012 Kia Cerato Koup SLS is fairly capable in the corners. It even changes direction quite well. It’s just driving in an up-beat, spirited manner seems like hard work.

Gearshift feel in the 2012 Kia Cerato Koup SLS is something Kia could have spent more time on. It feels a tad ‘80s in refinement. You sometimes aren’t even sure if the gear is engaged. Perhaps Kia should have a chat with someone from the German manufacturers about their skill in obtaining shifting finesse – often people buy a manual because they want to feel in control, and if the shift feels not-so-good, it can tarnish the overall driving experience.

The brakes do a good job of pulling up the Kia Koup’s 1288kg of mass and seem to keep plenty of pedal in reserve – they’re ideal for rocking up to cafes and brassieres just fine.

The 2012 Kia Cerato Koup is useful at making you feel trendy, but it’s not as sporty to drive as it is to look at. In that sense, we were a touch disappointed.

2012 KIA CERATO KOUP SLS INTERIOR COMFORT AND FEATURES

If you’re a small-ish person, that is, around 160cm and under, you’ll be right at home in the 2012 Kia Cerato Koup SLS, with the seats giving you ample comfort, and arm and legroom. For a tall person, it’s like someone shrunk the Kia Koup in the dryer by accident – everything feels almost uncomfortably small for larger types. We even found opening the sunroof helped (almost giraffe-like with your head sitting up in the open space).

The back seat should be labelled ‘for kids only’. You’ll really have trouble fitting any adult friends in there. Boot space, however, seems to be where all the room went. There’s tonnes of space for a pram and a few shopping bags.

Dash controls for climate control and the radio are very easy to unearth and operate in the 2012 Kia Cerato Koup SLS. The USB connection does allow you to search through your music on the factory stereo, and even provides quite a punch of sound. There is steering wheel mounted controls for the track/station select and volume controls, for added safety and convenience.

Overall, the trim is quite well done for a car in this price bracket. While it’d be nice if it felt a little more sporty, and had a touch more space, you can’t say that it isn’t well-equipped with gadgets and goodies, such as a sunroof, power windows, USB input stereo.

2012 KIA CERATO KOUP SLS VERDICT

For another $800 you could buy a new Volkswagen Polo GTI. Considering the awards the Polo has taken out around the world, it’s a much better overall package, with a higher level of performance. That said, the 2012 Kia Cerato Koup SLS is something a little different and it comes packed with all the equipment you need – and not as optional extras like some of the rivals. It’s also great looking and could be mistaken for a much more up-market product.

One thing seems clear though, as sporty as the Kia Koup looks, it’s not about being ‘performance’ but about being modern and unique, bringing something fresh to the market, and for that, the Kia passes with flying colours.

If you’re after super-engaging handling characteristics and grin-inducing acceleration though, we recommend test driving some of its rivals: Volkswagen Polo GTI, Fiat 500, and the Hyundai Veloster which will hit the market in the first quarter of 2012.

2012 KIA KOUP SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL
2012 Kia Cerato TD Koup SLS

ENGINE
2.0-litre four-cylinder

DRIVETRAIN
Front-wheel drive, six-speed manual

POWER
115kW@6200rpm, 194Nm@4300rpm

WEIGHT
1288kg

HEIGHT / WIDTH / LENGTH
1400mm / 1765mm / 4480mm

WHEELS
F: 17 x 7 inch
R: 17 x 7 inch

FUEL TANK CAPACITY
52 litres

FUEL CONSUMPTION
Tested average: 7.9L/100km
Official average: 7.5L/100km

PERFORMANCE
0-100km/h: 8.6 seconds (tested)

PRICED FROM
$26,990

Josh is one of the original co-founders of PerformanceDrive. His expertise is car culture and aftermarket performance. He was the editor at Hot4s Magazine, and has since worked at Fast Fours, Zoom, and as a journalist at The Project Group.