Can Kia build a Honda Civic Si fighter?

Yesterday, Motor Trend’s Todd Lassa suggested that all the Kia Koup concept needs is a new name, a b-pillar, and it’s ready for production.

Based on the front-wheel drive Spectra platform, the Koup has the potential to become a Honda Civic Si competitor in the not-so-distant future.

The Kia Koup’s interior and exterior are fairly realistic which means that, with the exception of pieces like the 3-color seats and 19-inch wheels, we might see a similar package arriving in dealerships before long.

The concept is powered by the 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged four with direct injection, producing 290 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque from 2000 to 4000 rpm. The concept has a six speed automatic with paddle shifters, but if (when?) this concept does make it to production, we hope to see a five or six speed manual as well.


Another hint Kia may be developing an inexpensive FWD sports coupe with elements from the Koup is the concept’s focus on safety features like having six airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system. The independent front suspension gets MacPherson struts while the rear suspension has a dual link setup.

If Kia can bring a quality Civic Si competitor under the Civic Si coupe’s $21,745 MSRP (including destination) with its five-year warranty, we think the company might have a winner on its hands. Granted, it has a long way to go before that happens, but it’s a possibility. Would you buy a toned-down production version of the Kia Koup? [Source: Motor Trend, March 21, 2008]

20 thoughts on “Can Kia build a Honda Civic Si fighter?

  1. Styling -wise, this Coupe is there. Wam-Bam, thank you Kia. Yikes, Kia can study some little details here or there(none which seem particularly important to me right now)to tweak and then build and release this pup. This car is gorgeous. Done deal.

  2. I;ve noticed that hondas usually have concept like looks. I wish Kia will keep SOME carbon fibre.

  3. One of the automakers that keeps the production vehicle really close to concept is Mazda. They really make only necessary adjustments and design changes before production model hits the road. You can compare Mazda CX-7 concept and production version and you’ll definately find out how close they really are.

    On the other hand, we have Hyundai and Kia who are very well known of producing great looking concepts, but also making production cars look less attractive. One of the duo cars (concept-production car) that can proove that is the beautiful Hyundai Arnez concept and it’s production model. Then there is Kia cee’d five door concept and production model. Kia Soul has also got many adjustments. It still looks great, but could be even better and more Mini-like.

    I hope at least 2-door Spectra stays really close to the Koup concept. Then Kia has another winner on it’s hands!

  4. Himi: I’d also add the Mesa/ Borrego to your list. The Mesa had a really great look and novel features (forward facing LED spotlight!) that completely disappeared from the production version (at least, what I saw at NAIAS 2008 and on the ‘net). As for the KOUP, when I first saw it I thought it looked similar to the Honda Civic. That’s what’s bugged me with Kia specifically, often times their vehicles look like already produced competitor vehicles. The 2006.5 Optima has Lexus headlamps and Buick taillamps; the 2009(?) Optima has Camry headlamps and Audi taillamps. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but really, can’t Kia come up with something slightly their own? Enough of my rant.

    As for your question: If Kia produced the Theta II with the turbocharger (as I’ve heard is rumored to be an engine option in the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe), I’d love to have the KOUP as a vehicle. And if they brought one of the Euro diesels over to the USA, and have a 6 speed manual, that’d be fantastic! My question is: Isn’t the Theta (and soon to be Theta II) the 2.4L engine from the Optima and Rondo (and Hyundai Sonata)?

  5. Hey, I never new that there was a concept version of CX-7. It does look awsome and although they have removed somethings to make it production ready the production one still looks great.
    P.S. MY favs list top 5:
    1- Nissan
    2- Mazda
    3- Hyundai-Kia
    4- Honda
    5- Volvo

  6. Truedat Jason. I forgot to mention Mesa! The same story again, great looking concept and OK (could be hotter) production model.

    I don’t really see many similarities between the Koup and Civic. Might be some parts resembling to Civic but all are designed differently and in it’s own way. So to me, besides the Kee, this is the second most unique looking Kia (concept) vehicle.

    Yup, the Koup(Spectra) will be based on same platform as cee’d. I have some material proving that and I will show it to you next week.

  7. I love the Koup

    I also remember the MULTI S concept , when the Rondo arrived, i was so deceived by it’s look
    I really think Rondo is a great car but it would need the Mazda sportylook like MULTI S

  8. the Koup doesn’t look like the civic other than the thin lights. The koup has more aggressive stance to the fron end and the rear is better too. Actually the whole vehicle lloks beter then the SI. Sorry honda. The front end is very blunt and stubby giving it a real “mean but clean” look. We have a civic here that someone trade in and I really am not a huge fan of the civic’s over 2 feet of dash in the window.

  9. koup is just a concept. when it enters prodction, it will down grade a lot and civic SI is almost concept like for kia. Only an SX or xR version can save it from the SI once in production.

  10. I agree with you Colby, it looks better than Civic! But as Boris said, it’s only in it’s concept stage and until it gets to production it can be awfully downgraded…just as many Kias had been.

    If we compare it to Civic concept we have seen a year or two ago, then we can state that the Koup looks much more aggressive and Civic is more elegant. I see some similarities betwen the two. The most noticable are the front lights and perhaps the side line.

    But production Civic Si stayed really close to the concept and we are gonna see what Kia brings to the market this time. I trully hope they can go a little bit more aggressive this time and attack the compact market with a really hot looking Spectra 2-door coupe. It’s the only way to steal sales from Honda, Toyota…

  11. Reading in an American car mag yesterday about the Genesis Coupe’s turbo 4 cyl, something like 190hp and 187 ft/lb. of torque to the wheels, all for around $19,999 for the 6-speed manual version! Wow, if Hyundai even just comes close to those numbers for around $20,000 for the base model Genesis Coupe with the manula tranny, I’m thinking they will have a hit on their hands. It is, however, a niche marketed car, and the Genesis sedan will sell in much larger numbers. Hopefully Kia will offer a Theta II motor or something similar for the Koup. The Kia Koup looks hotter than the Genesis Coupe, IMHO, and I am pretty sure that Kia will not want Hyundai to have a more powerful motor in their Coupe than their Koup. No way.

  12. I wished it did, but I really doubt we are gonna ever see the 290hp engine in Kia! More likely there will be the same engine offered but with slightly lower output. Expect to see the same hp rating as in Genesis Coupe 2.0 turbo. 215-225 hp range, depends on fuel used…

  13. between what? civic and KOUP?? right now, in the concept form, the koup definately beats civic in looks. but we’ll have to wait and see what they do to the production model.


  15. This doesn’t look like a Civic Si fighter to me. Instead, it looks more like a Civic Si wannabe. I agree that Kia has built some semi-decent cars befitting their MSRP’s, but let’s not get too excited to forget Kia still ranks low on reliability, quality, technology, and even the over all design. It will be a long time before I mention Kia and Honda in the same sentence.

  16. To Song:
    Well… seeing Hyundai, Kia’s close corporate relative, is second most reliable automotive company in the world, I don’t really see how Kia still ranks low… and their technology is superb! (and HONDA? are you freaking joking? that one Toyota/Nissan wannabe japanese car company that is INFAMOUS for their low reliability?) I do agree that Kia is a bit inferior to some very top auto companies in terms of quality and design to be honest, (Definitely NOT technology and reliability…) but that’s the exact reason why they are rolling out cars like these in attempt to improve that! I am definately not a Kia whore (My family has Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Versa) but gosh, give them some respect

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