Kia has been growing steadily since it entered Canada fifteen years ago and with new products like the Forte5 and Koup, there is no reason to believe the trend will end…
Huntington Beach, California.
Kia rounds out its attack on the country’s best-selling cars with the launch of the final two models to the Forte lineup.
Last year Kia introduced their all-new Forte sedan to compete with such top sellers as the Honda Civic, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra. This week, the 5-door hatchback version called Forte5 and the coupe, called Forte Koup begin arriving in dealerships.
The launch of these two vehicles took us from Huntington Beach California, through the mountains and desert to Borrego Springs and then back through the mountains to San Diego. The terrain varies from massive California highways to very twisty mountain passes and vast desert valleys. Stunning scenery and a recommended drive for any sightseer or driving enthusiast.
The Forte5 is the more practical of the two new Kias with a hatchback design that sets it apart from the competition. Many competitors don’t offer a hatch so this is sure to be noticed by people who need extra storage and passenger room. Sold with a new base 2.0L engine or an optional 1.6L turbo engine, there are varied looks depending on which trim is chosen. The non-turbo Forte5 gets a front grille similar to the sedan with a smaller lower intake and a larger grille opening. The Forte5 SX turbo gets the same grille as the Koup, with the opposite front treatment, a bigger lower opening and a smaller, more aggressive grille. The great news is that all Forte5 and Koup models come with alloy wheels; 16-inches on the Forte5 and 18-inch alloys on the turbo version. The Koup hass 17-inch base alloys or 18-inches on the turbo.
I drove the top Turbo version of the Forte5 and the base, non-turbo version of the Koup. Both have an amazing level of interior refinement. If you have ever questioned that Kia knows how to make good quality cars just look at these new products. The switches and dials look and feel first rate and the layout is logical and easy to use.
Koup can actually fit adults up to six feet. The dash has either a conventional radio layout with a smaller screen but when the backup camera is added on either model, the screen jumps to 6-inches and becomes a touchscreen device. If the buyer wants the navigation system, then the top turbo model with luxury package is needed.
The front seats sit high off the floor for good outward visibility and the back seat of the What continues to amaze me is the level of equipment Kia offers from standard Bluetooth and satellite radio to optional heated and cooled seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, power folding outside mirrors and more. True luxury touches.
Kia has put some punch into both the base and turbo versions of the Forte5 and Koup. The base engine is a large 2.0L direct injection engine with 173hp. In comparison, the top selling Civic has 143hp. The turbo model gets a 1.6L direct injection engine with a solid 201hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque that comes on at a very low 1750 RPM. The turbo also gets a stiffer suspension, bigger wheels, sharper steering feel and shorter gear ratios from first to third gear. This makes the car livelier and handles better but it also makes the car a bit twitchy on the highway when driving straight.
The base 2.0L would be my choice. 173hp is loads for a car of this size and the smaller wheels and less aggressive suspension might be a better day-to-day driver. Either way, Kia has kicked things up a notch and both are fun to drive and never feel underpowered.
The Forte5 starts at $19,495 and top out at $28,395 for a turbo with navigation. The Koup comes with a few extra standard features and it runs from $20,895-$28,695. Some might think that the higher end models are a getting expensive but they have features such as dimming rearview mirror, power outside mirrors and heated rear seats that are not generally available in this class.
Kia has been growing steadily since it entered Canada fifteen years ago and with new products like the Forte5 and Koup, there is no reason to believe the trend will end.
Power: 1.8L 4-cylinder with 132hp or 140hp
Fill-up: 8.6L/5.8L/100km (city/highway Forte5 auto)
Sticker price: $19,495-$28,395