- What’s New – How about a 290-horsepower turbocharged engine with your Kia? If you like that you’ll probably appreciate the six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the Brembo brakes, the navigation system with Bluetooth, and what represents Kia’s first foray into coupe design.
- Why It Matters – According to Kia’s own public relations spokesman, the brand known for low prices and great warranties needs to focus a bit more on the styling front. The Koup concept is a strong representation of what Spectra shoppers will likely encounter, in coupe and sedan form, sometime within the next 12-18 months.
Kia Koup Concept – 2008 New York Auto Show: Long warranties and low prices are the points that have historically brought buyers into Kia showrooms. Those are fine attributes, but company executives believe that in order to make the brand grow and move forward, savvy car shoppers need to be offered something more from this up-and-coming Korean nameplate. After some development, it seems the company has its answer: style and horsepower.
That’s the name of the game with the Koup concept, a two-door, front-drive, turbocharged pocket rocket boasting 290 horses and seemingly set to tussle with established players like GTI and Si. Maybe that’s jumping the gun a bit, yet what’s all but set in stone is the likelihood of the production version of the Koup will arrive as the new Spectra within a year or so in coupe and sedan forms.
Kia Koup Concept – Notable Features
Concept cars are famous for packing a load of features that won’t hit the market for years or are simply unrealistic. In that way, the Kia Koup breaks tradition with equipment that’s already on the market or is well within the range of possibility.
The turbocharged engine is the most newsworthy, followed by the six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, a push-button ignition system, two-piece carbon-fiber/alloy wheels, and a navigation system offering Bluetooth compatibility.
Kia Koup Concept - Under the Hood
Ahh, this is what had us asking, “Kia? Really?” Instead of the brand’s typical adequately-powered four-cylinder, the Koup draws motivation from a turbocharged, aluminum, 2.0-liter four-banger offering direct injection and a whopping 290 horses. Really. And better yet it’s backed by 289 lb.-ft. of torque. Honestly. The goods are delivered to the front wheels, which like those fitted to the rear measure 19 inches, via a six-speed automatic transmission sporting some paddle shifters.
Balancing the Koup’s muscle are Brembo drilled rotors fitted to all four corners and a suspension system consisting of MacPherson struts up front and an independent dual-link setup on the rear.
Kia Koup Concept - Design
There are a number of styling cues at play in the Koup concept, but few, if any, can be traced back to existing Kia models we’ve come to recognize. From the front, the swept back headlights and aggressive face resemble the current-generation Honda Civic, while the side view is relatively distinct thanks to the notchback curve that appears when viewed from certain angles and bodywork that swoops upward just forward of the rear wheel wells. Out back are clean lines centered around muscular haunches, simple yet attractive LED taillights, an integrated spoiler, and dual chrome exhaust tips popping out of a lower carbon fiber treatment. Call us crazy, but we see a little Toyota Paseo and Acura RSX action going on at the tail.
Inside Kia’s four-passenger coupe are the usual trappings of a concept car – carbon fiber accents, high-tech seats with advanced materials, a thickly-padded sport steering wheel, and a push-button starter button. That’s not a terribly unusual feature, but not all that common in Korean economy cars. Other than that, the Koup’s interior appears to be close to production-ready, with a realistic dash and instrument panel layout.
Kia Koup Concept - Competitors
Given its status as the future Spectra, we can get an idea of what competition the production model will face when it hits the lots. Contenders are numerous and cover a wide swath of the market, including vehicles such as the Honda Civic, Nissan Versa, Ford Focus, and Toyota Corolla. Many of these models have been recently updated in terms of style, power, and equipment, but not one of the direct competitors comes in the form of a 290-horsepower coupe. Among that smaller niche are rides such as the 260-horsepower Chevy Cobalt SS, the 200-horsepower Volkswagen GTI, and the 197-horsepower Honda Civic Si.
By Thom Blackett
Photo credit: Oliver Bentley and Kia