June 20, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 20 October 2011 10:57
When confronted with a modern, sporty coupe, we usually adopt the mindset that it’s a two-seater, preferring not to subject adults to the cramped back seats. We have not forgotten the time we tried to squeeze two adults into the back seat of a Hyundai Tiburon, and one actually cut her head when the rear window smacked into a clip she had in her hair.
But we dared to assign a woman of average height to the back seat of our 2011 Kia Forte Koup. She even had to share the seat for more than two hours with an older 20-inch television set that wouldn’t fit through the narrow trunk opening. And it all worked out. The Koup’s back seat, while not exactly commodious, is functional.The Korean-built Forte is available as a four-door sedan and two-door coupe. Like all of Kia’s products, it’s the beneficiary of quantum, across-the-board improvements in overall quality.
Our test car was a silver Koup SX, which features a more powerful engine than the base model and a sport-tuned suspension. It had a big edge in refinement over the Forte sedan we tested last year. Although it weighs less than 3,000 pounds, the Koup felt substantial. Acceleration bordered on exhilarating, but could best be described as snappy.
The Koup is not just stylish; it’s an impressive value. Our top-of-the-line SX model started at just $19,395 and reached $23,640 with high-end options: leather upholstery, heated seats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power sunroof, navigation system, push-button start and automatic climate control. Standard features included cruise control, steering wheel paddle shifters, Sirius satellite radio and Bluetooth wireless technology. And it wouldn’t be a Kia if it didn’t have the 10-year, 100,000-mile limited power-train warranty.
The 173-horsepower engine delivered 28 to 32 mpg during our week with the Koup, using regular unleaded gasoline.
So the Forte Koup is inexpensive, loaded with features, stylish and fun to drive. Too good to be true, right?
Well, we did have a complaint or two. The front seat belts require a long, awkward reach over the outboard shoulder to the rear, and the narrow trunk opening limits the functionality of the otherwise impressively large trunk. Tall drivers found leg room to be tight, and the manual tilt lever on the cushion doesn’t lift the front of the cushion high enough to compensate. And the SX package exacts a fairly steep fuel-economy penalty compared with the standard 156-horsepower version, which can reach 37 mpg.
The Forte has done well in crash tests and also has been found to be reliable. But the main attraction of this model is its modest price and high value quotient. The base Koup EX starts at just $16,995. Competitors like the Scion TC and Honda Civic cost more when comparably equipped. No wonder this model is performing well for Kia in the marketplace, leading the pack with 32,887 units sold worldwide under the Forte and Cerato badges.
Engine: 2.4-liter inline Four, 173 horsepower, 168 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 2,844 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
Wheels: 17x7 inch alloy
Tires: P215/45R17 all-season
Seating capacity: 4
Luggage capacity: 12.6 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 13.7 gallons
Fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular
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