A fresh face on an old favourite | It shares its sexy lines with the rest of the newly-redesigned Forte family.
Whenever a review of a new Kia product goes up online anywhere on the internet, it seems that every auto writer (myself included) mentions how far Kia has come and how their vehicles have gone from being econoboxes to sharp, reliable, and well-designed. I’m not going to talk about that – I’m going to talk about how much I like the 2014 Kia Forte Koup and why. The first thing you notice about the Koup is its styling. It shares its sexy lines with the rest of the newly-redesigned Forte family, the sedan and the Forte5 hatchback.
I was tossed the keys to a 2014 Forte Koup in EX trim. This is not the new turbocharged variant – it’s powered by the same 2.0L 4-cylinder that I became familiar with when driving the Forte sedan back in the winter. It puts out 173 horsepower at 6,500rpm and 154 lb-ft of torque at 4,700rpm. Though a 6-speed manual is standard (and I would prefer it), this car was equipped with the 6-speed automatic with Sportmatic controls.
This motor goes quite nicely; it reminded me very much of the 2014 Honda Civic Coupe that we tested earlier this year. Both are front-wheel-drive coupes that are surprisingly affordable and look particularly sharp. When the transmission is left alone to do its own thing, acceleration is very satisfactory and quite peppy. The Forte Koup won’t win any battles at the track, but it’ll get you to where you need to go with ease. The Sportmatic function allows you to shift gears at your whim, and it works very nicely. Upper trim levels even give you paddle shifters, a very welcome addition to a sports coupe no matter how affordable the price tag.
Kia has equipped all Koup models with an Active Eco system that is operated by the push of a button located to the left of the instrument panel. This technology adjusts shift points, throttle response, and engine management to conserve fuel as best as it can. I noticed a significant change in both the behaviour of the car as well as overall fuel economy using this mode. In my week’s commute, I observed 7.0L/100km in both city and highway driving. On one longer highway run, I actually saw as low as 6.0L/100km, which is awesome with gas prices sailing north of $1.30/liter. The Forte Koup takes regular fuel as well.
Inside, the Forte Koup does not feel like a Kia from five years ago. The interior is on par, if not better than, competitors from Honda and Toyota. The three-spoke steering wheel is stylish and feels great in your hands. It’s not too large, so quick maneuvers are effortless. The upper-trim level SX and SX Luxury models get navigation, a ventilated driver’s seat, and a few other goodies. My EX made do with heated seats, a sunroof, a colour touchscreen in the UVO infotainment system.
No navigation is on board, but at least now Kia lets you plug in your iPod using the regular Apple cable rather than demanding their own proprietary one. Things like Bluetooth, satellite radio, a USB input jack, and stunning taillights are all standard on this model as well. The seats are very comfortable and the overall driving position is very, very good. I could spend hours after hours in this car without the slightest complaint.
After my time with the Forte Koup, I didn’t really find much to whine about. I find the ride height and overall height of the car a bit tall – it makes the car look too tall in my eyes. It also makes the gap between the wheel and the fender seem huge. This is also an issue the Civic suffers from, but I feel like the target market for both vehicles would have no issue investing in the aftermarket for a set of lowering springs. Additionally, the larger 18” wheels on the SX and SX Luxury models (the EX comes with 17”) will also work wonders to fill the gap.
The 2014 Kia Forte Koup is a great buy in the compact coupe segment. It’s a lot less common on the streets than the Civic Coupe, which alone makes it a winner in my eyes. Also, the Civic now suffers from a rather strange head unit that’s not very user-friendly. The target market for this car is the young professional as well as the university/college student looking for a classy year-round ride. At $23,095 as-tested, the Koup isn’t expensive in the slightest. A comparable Civic Coupe would be the EX model, that comes in about a thousand dollars less. Personally, I’d opt for the Kia just for its polarizing looks and fresh new face in the segment – aesthetics really do go a long way.