2014 Kia Forte Koup SX Premium, engine bay, dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Steven Bochenek
Komplete with its kute nomenclature, the Kia Forte Koup is a good buy for the young value-conscious driving enthusiast. I’m not young nor was I when I first drove one but, as chance would have it, do earn a young person’s annual income and am still very immature, so do retain some perspective. The tester here is the top of the line SX Premium trim and, even after taxes, it still comes in below $30,000.
You get a lot of thrills for those bucks at any level though. Consider the first Kia Forte Koup I ever drove. It was the actual racer from the Targa Newfoundland Rally in 2010, the first time Kia had entered the event. I drove it the day after this marathon event finished, and was given free reign by its drivers to tear through the wonderfully winding roads on ridiculously steep hills of St John’s. Attending Targa on the Rock is a bit like suddenly joining the world’s biggest family. Nearly everywhere you go, people are almost aggressively friendly, quite unnerving for a retiring and misanthropic Torontonian. With the Forte Koup’s race decals still applied, the car was saluted by pedestrians throughout town. One time during the three-hour ride, it was even encouraged by police to speed over a sharp hillock — their thumbs up and smiles wide (doubly unnerving, compared to misanthropic Toronto police).
Understandably the racer was utterly different from this 2014 tester I drove recently. The manual transmission was well worked in after nearly 2,000 km of heightened attention; racing seats and a roll cage had been installed; and there was the distinct funk of men at work redolent throughout. Yet there was plenty in common too, starting and finishing with an element of respect for the driver. In short, shrills for the bucks.
The 2014 tester had many brand new features, including a completely redesigned chassis. The Koup’s longer (now 4,530mm), lower (1,780mm) and wider (1,410mm) providing the sort of cling and grip in corners that you’d imagine from a huge crab on wheels.
But the watchword for the 2014 Forte Koup would have to be choice.
First you choose between four-cylinder engines. The tester boasted the spritely 1.6L turbo with direct injection. It produces 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm. Better still, with 195 lb-ft of torque at the enjoyably wide range of 1,750 – 4,500 rpm, it overcomes any truculent turbo lag with aplomb. (The 2.0L option costs less but offers 173 hp @ 6,500 and strikingly less torque, just 154 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm.) It’s the same engine you get from Kia’s sister company Hyundai in their Veloster Turbo, another fun little ride that a value-conscious driver could easily consider.
Under the ideal conditions needed to render EnerGuide’s easy statistics, the estimated fuel economy is 9.3 L/100 km in the city and 6.6 on the highway. The Forte Koup is designed to appeal to a performance-oriented audience. Likely not a lot of them will get such Pollyanna numbers; I certainly didn’t.