Getting yourself noticed among the plethora of entry-level sporty coupes on the Canadian market takes some doing.
From mild to wild and everywhere in between, they are all reliable, safe and affordable, so it?s up to the manufacturers to attract the attention of consumers.
Kia?s strategy with the 2015 Koup is a combination of price, content and, with the SX model, performance.
The Koup SX tested here was a 2014 model that had been in the press fleet for some months, but the 2015 models are starting to arrive in dealerships as of September.
As the cars are identical, I thought it was prudent to use the 2015 pricing, and more importantly, the new 2015 fuel consumption numbers that are the ?five-cycle? test, which are more realistic.
So to the matter of price and content, there are two Koup 2015 trim levels beginning with the entry level EX that starts at $21,295 and comes with many standard amenities.
Some of these include: UVO infotainment with rear camera display, dot-matrix type LCD cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel, FlexSteer (with automatic transmission), auto folding outside mirrors and LED front running lights.
The SX that starts at $24,195, includes everything on the EX then ups the ante with 18-inch wheels as opposed to 17-inch on the EX, more aggressive front fascia with larger bumper and grille openings, black gloss grille inserts and outside mirrors, larger front brakes, alloy sport pedals, Smart key and LED taillight technology.
The EX uses Kia?s latest direct injection 2.0-litre inline DOHC four-cylinder with 173 hp and 154 lb/ft of torque equipped with an in-house designed six-speed manual transmission. Opting for the six-speed automatic adds $1,200 to the sticker price.
The SX pumps up the ponies with a 1.6-litre twin turbo inline direct injection four-cylinder with 201 hp and 195 lb/ft of torque. Again, a six-speed manual is standard with the six-speed automatic available for $1,200 more.
Fuel consumption figures for the 2.0-litre manual/automatic are 10.1/7.4L/100 km city and 188.8.131.52L/100 km respectively. For the 1.6-litre the figures are 10.8/8.1L/100 km city and 10.6/7.6L/100 km. Note the automatic is more frugal than the manual, which is not normally the case.
Suspension is MacPherson struts up front and a rear twist beam with the SX getting slightly more sporting suspension.
I am pleased Kia thinks a manual transmission is important.
Getting back to content, tested here is the SX automatic with the Luxury Package that includes, in Kia fashion, a wide range of features you might expect to find as options on competitive vehicles in this segment.
These include: power sunroof?, Xenon HID headlights?, Multimedia Interface (with navigation), Enhanced LCD/TFT Supervision Cluster, leather seats?, cooled/ventilated driver seat, heated front passenger seat and heated steering wheel.
When you stop and lock the SX, the power outside mirrors tuck in, a feature found on high-end luxury cars.
But the really cool part is, when you approach the locked SX, it senses the smart key and deploys the outside mirrors to their normal position and turns on a puddle light on the underside of the mirror.
The as tested price with everything Kia could build in was ?$28,795 not including $1,465 shipping fee.
At the press introduction earlier this year, I drove the SX with manual and found it notchy primarily because there were zero kms on the box and it was still in need of breaking in.
On this week?s tester, the autobox complete with paddle shifters was fitted.
Now we come to the performance part.
Open the hood and you see just how small the engine is. But don’t let size fool you as that 1.6-litre has the power of some V6s I can think of but, more to the point, is the 195 lb/ft of torque that comes in almost instantly, thanks to its twin turbo technology.
The SX Koup has a lot of speedy competition like the Civic Si and the Toyota/Subaru FR-S/BRZ to name a few.
Where the Kia excels is in horsepower for litre, i.e., the Civic Si has a 2.4-litre with 205 hp and 174 lb/ft of torque. The 2.0-litre ?boxer? four on the FR-S/BRZ comes in at 200 hp and 151 lb/ft of torque.
Of course, the direct injection and twin turbos are the reason for all this Koup power, which flows very smoothly throughout the rev range with no noticeable turbo lag.
The best part is you don?t need the engine singing at 5,000 rpm or so because most of the SX torque starts coming in at 1,750 rpm.
There is a little torque steer to the left on hard acceleration but a deft hand on the wheels keeps that under control.
With slightly larger brakes than the Forte Sedan and stiffer suspension, the Koup feels well planted but, because it?s a front-driver, you wonder if the rear might step out under very aggressive handling, such as on a racetrack.
But in everyday life, traction control and stability control rule out anything like that.
Automatic trans versions of the Koup are equipped with FlexSteer that enhances the electric power steering with a driver-selectable three modes ? Comfort, Normal and Sport.
Normal is for every-day driving, while Comfort is for highway cruising. Sport tightens steering wheel response to improve handling
One thing you have to watch is how speed creeps up on you because those turbos are working all the time and they love to punch out the ponies.
Where the Koup really comes into its own is on two-lane blacktop roads through hilly terrain.
Ascending, the turbo is never short of climbing power.
Down hill and through a bend or two and the Koup is very stable.
The front seats are well bolstered and steering response with the automatic in Sport rewards the driver.
In short, it’s fun to drive which is; after all, what a sporty coupe is all about.