Test Drive: 2012 Kia Forte Koup car test drives reviews kia
Test Drive: 2012 Kia Forte Koup car test drives reviews kia
2012 Kia Forte Koup SX Luxury R Package. Click image to enlarge
Test Drive: 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX

Manufacturer’s web site
Kia Motors Canada

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2012 Kia Forte Koup

In the world of sporty compact cars, the Kia Forte Koup is often the forgotten child. While the Honda Civic Si, Mazda3 Sport, and Ford Focus grab all the attention, the Forte Koup continues to trudge along, lurking in the shadows. As one of the few compact coupes left on the market, the Forte Koup really does deserve more attention than it gets, if not for any other reason than looks alone. In an effort to boost its profile and consumer attention until the all-new Forte arrives, Kia has added a new dealer-installed ‘R’ performance package for its two-door Forte.

The R package is really more of a collection of individual parts that can be ordered from a Kia dealer to be installed on any Forte Koup. The package consists of a two-piece front skirt ($473.83), side skirts ($473.83), flush rear spoiler ($450.45), ‘R’ badge on each fender ($30.25 a piece), ‘R’ branded door sills ($94.95), Koup/Forte performance air filter ($51.48), and a performance exhaust ($574.65). When fully installed, the R package is both good and bad. The body add-ons and exhaust are both great to my eyes and add to the attractive coupe’s shape. Senior Editor Jonathan Yarkony, however, did not like the side ‘skirts’, which he found were stuck onto the Forte Koup in the worst Pontiac-Grand-Am-like tradition. However, we both agreed the out of place cartoonish ‘R’ logo appliqué on the front fender badge and door sill ‘R’ badges should be banned. Otherwise, you may spend too much of your time explaining to onlookers that yes, these are indeed legitimate Kia badges and not just something you picked up from the Walmart automotive section. I have a hard time believing Peter Schreyer green-lighted these badges; especially the font used for the ‘R’ logo.

Test Drive: 2012 Kia Forte Koup car test drives reviews kia
Test Drive: 2012 Kia Forte Koup car test drives reviews kia
Test Drive: 2012 Kia Forte Koup car test drives reviews kia
2012 Kia Forte Koup SX Luxury R Package. Click image to enlarge

But what Peter Schreyer did design and green light is the rest of the Forte Koup’s looks. Even though it has been on sale for over three years now, the Forte Koup still looks fresh and modern. Opt for the top of the line SX Luxury version and the taillights are upgraded to LEDs that look great and would be at home on an Audi (c’mon, you didn’t think I would go through an entire Kia review without referencing Audi styling, did you?) Now, if Kia could just upgrade the front lights with a dose of HID or LED running lights, the car would really stand out.

Inside, the sleek coupe exterior forces trade-offs in form of headroom. With the sunroof eating up what precious little cranium real estate is left, my head would brush the roof even with the seat at its lowest setting. I had to sit in an awkward position to keep from having the roof liner scrubbing off what little hair I have left. The rear seats are equally headroom-challenged but do offer enough legroom for adolescents or shorter teens. Trunk space is decent for a compact coupe at 358 L, and the rear seats do fold down. Forward and rearward sightlines are very good, but the 3/4 rearward view is blocked by the massive C-pillar.

The Forte Koup’s interior is mostly hard-touch surfaces with soft touch inserts grafted onto the dashboard, similar to the Chevrolet Cruze. The steering wheel, although made of cheap-feeling leather, has a nice, thick shape. The radio is not that great sound-wise, but very simple to use. As always, I like that there are buttons and dials for all radio and HVAC controls. If you are someone who prefers touchscreen controls, the Forte Koup can do that too. My main gripe with the interior was a rear shelf and/or seat that squeaked and rattled over every bump in the road. This may have been an effect of the upgraded wheels and tires offering a slightly firmer ride.




About Mike

Mike Schlee is the former Social Editor at Autos.ca and autoTRADER.ca. He began his professional automotive writing career in 2011 and has always had a passion for all things automotive, working in the industry since 2000.