The Forte is being significantly refreshed for the coming model year. For the time being, Kia has adjusted some of the existing packaging to provide a better value to current buyers.
Most folks buy compact cars for value, efficiency and practicality, meaning that a coupe, with its inherently reduced interior space and often higher price, isn't usually a top choice. However, the Forte Koup's sharp looks should be enough to make more than a few car shoppers make a decision with their heart rather than their head.
Up front, the Forte Koup features a wide rendition of Kia's "Tiger Nose" corporate grille that connects to flowing headlights with inset LED running lights. Unusual hockey stick-like character lines above the side sills provide a dramatic counterpoint to the sloping roofline, while sleek taillights and a rear diffuser add visual spice to the rear end.
The cabin features an asymmetrical dashboard design highlighted by "ripple effect" detailing that Kia says is intended to evoke wavelets radiating from a pebble dropped into a pond. Quirky details aside, material quality is more than respectable and the control layout is largely intuitive.
As one would expect of a Kia, there's a generous amount of standard equipment, including power everything, Bluetooth connectivity, a rear view camera, alloy wheels and more. However, the Forte 5-door also offers upscale options like a ventilated driver's seat, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats - items not usually seen at this price point.
The Forte Koup comes standard with Kia's new-generation UVO infotainment system, which provides Bluetooth-based smartphone integration, streaming audio and voice command functionality for everything from placing calls to changing radio stations. It also includes vehicle diagnostics info and maintenance reminders, and lets users send Point of Interest info from Google Maps searches on their smartphone to the Forte's nav system, which itself offers access to Google Maps and Google Places.
Powertrains and Handling
The Forte Koup is available in EX trim with a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder, or as the SX with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The sedan's less potent but more economical 1.8-liter mill isn't available.
The EX's 2.0-liter produces 173-horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 154 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm, and transmits power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Those in a hurry can opt for SX and its 1.6-liter turbo, which makes 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb-ft of twist between 1,750-4,500 rpm. Cementing the engine's status as the driver's choice is its available six-speed manual gearbox (a self-shifting six-speed can also be had).
The SX also adds larger front brakes, a more aggressive front fascia and sporty interior trim.
Fuel economy is rated as follows: 25/34 city/highway mpg for the 2.0-liter automatic; 24/34 mpg for the 2.0-liter manual; 22/30 for the 1.6-liter automatic; and 22/29 for the 1.6-liter manual.
The Koup shares its suspension layout - MacPherson struts up front, a torsion-beam at the rear and coil springs all around - with the sedan, but firmer tuning gives it a more responsive feel. A "Flex Steer" system allows the driver to vary steering effort between three different settings at the touch of a steering wheel-mounted button.
The entry-level EX comes standard with the 2.0-liter motor in addition to A/C, full power accessories, Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/Sirius XM stereo with AUX and USB inputs, LED running lights, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a trip computer, an outside temperature display, power-adjustable heated mirrors, fog lights, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a tilt and telescoping steering column and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The optional EX UVO Package includes UVO eServices Telematics and a rear-view camera.
The SX adds the turbo engine along with a more aggressive front fasica, larger front brakes, alloy sport pedals, dual chrome exhaust tips, LED tail lights, carbon fiber-style front and rear seat accents, carbon fiber-look exterior trim and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Both trim levels can be optioned with a navigation system with HD radio, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats and a ventilated driver's seat, heated rear outboard seats, leather upholstery, a proximity key with pushbutton start, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and optional HID headlights.
All Forte Koup models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to stability and traction control systems and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Kia's corporate sibling, Hyundai, also fields a pair of models worthy of consideration, including the funky Veloster and the milder Elantra Coupe. Both share a platform with the Forte Koup, although only the Veloster offers a higher-output turbocharged motor.