First drive: Kia Cerato Koup 2011 in Dubai

First drive: Kia Cerato Koup 2011 in Dubai

We got a chance to briefly test-drive the 2011 Kia Cerato Koup at the Dubai dealership when we went in as potential customers. Oh my, from where to where the Kias have come – what a car the Cerato Koup is! For the first time ever, I found a vehicle that has its roots in Asia while having a pure European character – rivalling some of the European marques!

All I did was a 10-minute test-drive though I could drive it my way, thanks to the silent dealer representative, though he was as scared as a pussy cat. The car appears to have good low-end kick unlike the Honda Civic, and is quick off the line. The 2.0-litre engine powering the Cerato Koup is rated for 154 hp and 194 Nm, and unlike the Honda’s 1.8-litre, this need not be hammered all the way to the floor to get all those horses to life. It is mated to a 4-speed tiptronic transmission that shifts smoothly and does the job. Manual gear-shifts seemed to lag a bit and is not responsive enough – leaving the transmission in auto seemed to be the best option. The engine is refined and noise is muffled well enough.

And the delight of the day for me was Kia’s handling! Never ever in my wildest of dreams have I expected a Kia to have such surprising levels of cornering abilities with negligible body roll – add to it a precise steering that gives a fair amount of feedback. The suspension is very well tuned to be European-ish in character; and when combined with 215/45 low-profile tyres wrapping 17-inch alloys, the Koup soaks bumps and potholes without much harshness while giving some sporty feeling and allowing some great levels of cornering; though not really close to the segment leader, the Ford Focus, this one can put many cars to shame and can make a lot of Civic lovers frown and go furious! Once over the limit, the car safely understeers. In case of any amateur stupidity, there is the electronic stability nanny to keep things in check.

Interior space is good; there is good legroom for the front occupants while the rear can seat a couple of 5-foot-8 adults without any fuss. The headroom is kind of low, and this can make getting in and out of the car slightly tedious. Interior quality is generally very good; though I could not do a detailed inspection I found that the top dash is covered with soft-touch materials; the centre console comes in cheaper plastics. Seats were dressed in faux leather and were fairly comfortable. I did not switch on the stereo, but it appeared to be the same unit which we found in the Hyundai Sonata. It also has mood lighting, TCS and ESP, 6 airbags and a good a/c that seemed to tackle well a warm February afternoon.

My overall first impression about the car is so great that I have no words to explain it. Right from styling to performance to value-for-money, the car is a deal at Dhs 72,000 in the UAE. For now I would say, if not for the brand image, the Cerato Koup would be a popular car among young drivers.

What do you think?



  1. Vivek, I’d have to disagree… I’ve driven this car several times and I feel a civic has much better acceleration. Aside from this the engine really needs to be thrashed to make it pick up any speed, but as a highway cruiser it is comfortable and good. The brakes are amazing as well so emergency stops won’t ever be a problem. The mood lighting I’ve only seen on the soul; while the Koup just has red interior lights.

    The car’s suspension is decent, but errs more to the stiff side which makes bumpy roads a bit uncomfortable, aside from this I think they need to lighten the steering as it feels like you are driving a truck when you try to manoeuvre in tight spaces or parking areas.

    The build quality of the interiors is commendable I agree but they need to put a better engine in it if it’s to become anything other than a basic highway cruiser which also happens to look good.

    • Well, probably you “feel” that the Civic is faster. I have driven the Civic a lot many times and the Koup seemed different; not only to me, but to my buddy as well who also has extensive experience with Hondas. If you have noticed, most European cars ride a bit firm when compared to the Japanese cars in a bid for good balance between ride handling and comfort – which is why I did not regard the slight firmness in the Koup “uncomfortable”. And I never had issues with the steering too; my Mondeo has a stiffer steering!

  2. i actually love its looks!!! but i gues it should share the engine with sonata 2.4 or a 2.0t.. bad that it didnt got sold too much here! but good news is that i guess kia testing new cerato based on elantra which is a good sigh actually.. and DI engine is a good thing if it comes here!!! spy shots in the link

  3. Alot of Cerato Koups are here in Egypt streets
    For me i have about 4 of my friends own it
    And after using it form more than year i can say

    1- Not stable at all .. suspension is very Noisy
    2- Sheep interior .. donky leather Seats
    3- Brakes is not that good And ABS work very lat

    And by the way the new one 2011-2012 is 6 speed Atuo with new face left

    Nothing is good at all in that Koup i used it alot and i know what i’m saying .. Safty is Zero in that car

    People here in egypt are tring to sall there Koups and most of them are going to get the new Hyundai Veloster

    • err…am not sure about that, but i believe that the egyptian market is always getting the “toned down” version of any car in the world to keep the customs low. I have tried the mazda 3 from a gulf spec and from an egyptian spec, the feeling is totally different..although they are the same damn car at heart and mechanics.

      No sir, allow me to disagree with you, the egyptian market gets the lowest class of quality, if you want to judge the car, take a proper speced car from anywhere in the world, except egypt. (i am an egyptian btw, am not really bashing egypt or anything, but its true…egypt’s car specs are all “customs” driven than “customer” driven !! :))

  4. Nice article Vivek 🙂
    I haven’t driven the car but did have a look at it in the showroom. Decent build quality, features…basically value for money. It could do with some more power. The US gets a 2.4ltr 175hp engine mated to a 6M/6A gearbox from the Optima. If this engine makes it here and sold at a reasonable pice it will find a number of customers.

  5. A nice but rather quick and brief review, Vivek. I also would like to point out, that the dealer here has been telling its a 6 speed auto. I have driven my friend’s KOUP about a year back, didn’t feel it to be remarkably quick, but it did have pretty good handling. You may want to go drive it again with the changed 6 speed and see if it exhibits any improved performance, since you drove it way back in Feb.

  6. Ps, found out the one I had driven was the top of the line which doesn’t have mood lighting but the other lower optioned cars have that. Guess when they put 6 air bags in there wasn’t enough space for that.

  7. Hey, this car is nice for youth who can’t afford to buy coupe cars… Nice add to the collection of kia.

    Oh by the way, go and check out infiniti JK 2013

  8. Hi I drive a Kia Cerato. Wow it amaizing. Lot of space. I would not mind owning one. The moment I drove this car I new it “I must have it” Utter royalty. I will own one soon.

  9. I bought one last year, from my point of view this car are amazing if you see it’s price(138000 E.P)as it’s the best car(from my opinion) in it’s category in Egypt.I just love this car.

  10. I have one of them, I think its a good car.

  11. Have you all noticed that there is no engine temperature display on the Cerato?..

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