Think Kia cars and these days you’re spoilt for choice. The Korean automaker seems to have the South African new car market well and truly covered with a 47-model line up – no, make that 48 – because just this week its existing Cerato range of 12 models swelled to 13 with the addition of the flagship and rather good-looking wedgy, two-door Koup.Let’s just think for a moment about that model line-up: now numbering close to 50, because that is a quite a significant choice to offer SA buyers – even more than parent Hyundai (37-models).GALLERY: Kia Cerato Koup By way of comparison a random selection of auto retailers that also ‘trade’ locally include Mitsubishi, from Japan (21 models); Opel (Germany) 19; Renault (France) 30; Honda (Japan) ±50, and Mazda (Japan) 40.ENTHUSIASTIC CUSTOMERSWhat I’m trying to convey to Wheels24 readers is that Kia is definitely a serous player within our borders (and most likely beyond) that hasn’t even considered looking at the lucrative but possibly burgeoning one-ton bakkie market – yet!Generation 1 and 2 Kia Cerato Koups proved quite successful for Kia and its loyal band of enthusiastic customers – but the one common criticism from them was it just wasn’t powerful enough for the South African speed merchants found among us!Enter Generation 3, with totally new body styling thanks to celebrated car creator/maestro Peter Schreyer, Kia’s chief designer with a little help from Kia Motors America’s design studio. Interestingly, except for the bonnet and front wings, every exterior panel on the new Koup has been redesigned and is unique to this latest model.There’s also a whole raft of interior improvements to be discovered – more about these later – while under the bonnet lurks a rather nifty 1.6 turbocharged engine that pushes out an impressive 152kW at 6000rpm, and an equally impressive 265Nm from a low base of 1750 upwards, from the T-GDI (that stands for turbo-charged gasoline direct injection, by the way).Two transmissions are offered, but I would think the six-speed manual version likely to be the more popular choice given the sporty nature of the vehicle. But if automatic transmission is more important to you there are two operating modes found within: full automatic or ‘Sport’, the latter engaged by moving the shifter towards the driver. Steering-wheel paddles also make their appearance in the automatic version of this performance car.FREE-FLOW EXHAUSTAccording to the manufacturer acceleration times of 7.4sec (7.9 auto), can be expected for the important to some 0-100km/h traffic light GP – depending on transmission; while top speed is close to 225km/h (for those who crave track-day racing, of course).The engine really does sound good – thanks to the tuned, sporty, tonal exhaust (from 1000-4000rpm) that’s complemented by the free-flow exhaust system and two tail pipes that project from the diffuser panel under the rear bumper.Wider, longer and taller, with a significantly extended wheelbase, will definitely benefit the driver and his/her passengers in the extra knee leg and shoulder departments; the luggage area is now also considerably improved and enlarged and 60:40 rear seat split.In profile, the Koup is enhanced by the use of frameless doors, gloss black external mirrors and door releases, colour-coded sill mouldings (eight colours to choose from), and a set of really sporty 18” alloy rims.IMPROVED SUSPENSIONMoving inside, the sporty theme continues with the liberal use of carbon-look trim, body-hugging Recaro-style leather seats, as alluded to earlier the roof is 28mm higher, legroom has been extended by 51mm and shoulder room by 15mm). Also present are tilt and telescoping adjustable steering and other useful creature comforts such as a colour info cluster that includes an 11cm touchscreen.The Koup’s suspension benefited from some tweaking over the outgoing model, gratefully experienced on the brief ‘ride ‘n drive’ around the Cradle of Mankind, in Gauteng. A nice compromise between firm and harsh handling has been achieved – no bone-jarring moments – and I would go so far as to say handling and manners are exemplary in the Koup.It’s also worth mentioning the excellent brakes; this is an all-disc set-up with large-diameter ventilated discs up front (300mm), and 262mm solid discs at the rear complemented by anti-lock brakes and electronic brake-pressure distribution.INTERESTED? WATCH THE PRICES!The Koup’s stoppers were certainly put to good use dodging the potholes on Gauteng’s much-neglected and deteriorating roads. In addition, on the safety front, there are six air bags and anti-whiplash head restraints.Kia SA’s marketing director David Sieff told me they hope to sell 150 Koups a month but prices will have to be reviewed at the end of March given the sorry state of the rand. • The all-new Kia Koup sells for R334 995 (six-speed manual, R12 000 more for the auto) and comes with a five-year or 150 000km warranty, and a five-year/90 000km service plan.