Kia’s Forte surprise
Every motorhead knows about the Kia Stinger, the Korean brand’s 365-hp twin-turbo V6 compact executive sedan.
But not everyone knows that the new (since January 1, 2019) Philippine distributor of Kia vehicles , Adventure Cycle Philippines, Inc. (ACPI) has another high-performance, less expensive compact sedan.
Without any fanfare or launching extravaganza, the Forte GT has quietly joined the Stinger and the Sportage GT as one of Kia’s top-performance trio.
The appearance of the Forte GT manifests the veracity of the Kia tagline: “The Power to Surprise” since the Forte dropped out of Kia’s product lineup in the last few years of Columbian Autocar Corporation’s distributorship of the brand.
Now, surprise, surprise! ACPI offers the Forte in three variants: the Forte 1.6 LX AT (6-speed automatic transmission) for P1,095,000, the Forte 1.6 EX AT for P1,195,000 and the Forte 1.6 GT DCT (dual clutch automatic transmission) for P1,650,000. All the variants are front-wheel-drive.
However, the GT is powered by a 1.6-liter in-line 4 cylinders, DOHC, turbocharged gasoline direct injection engine mated to a 7-speed dual clutch (DCT) automatic transmission with manual mode while the LX and EX have the same 1.6 liter powerplant, but naturally aspirated and paired to a 6-speed AT.
GROWL. The Forte GT can be distinguished from its lesser siblings not only by its looks, wheels and speed, but also by the sound of its turbocharged engine.
Climb into the driver’s seat of the GT, press the push start button, and you will hear the engine start with a low, rumbling growl.
If you think the growl emitted by the sport-tuned twin exhausts is titillating, wait till you hit the highway and 150 kilometers per hour: crackling and popping sounds urge you to go for the redline (traffic situation permitting, of course.)
The Forte GT not only sounds like a sport sedan in motion should, it looks the part.
Aggressive visual additions with sport body kit project the GT attitude.
SPORTY THEME. Kia’s signature Tiger Nose grille is black with red inserts in the Forte GT, there are new side skirts, high-gloss side mirrors, all the lamps are LED (headlamps, daytime running lights, position lamp, rear combination lamps, high mount stop lamp on the trunk lid spoiler), and the ducktail spoiler, lower rear diffuser with chromed dual exhaust tips plus 17-inch two-tone wheels and red disc brakes complete the exterior.
The sporty theme is carried over into the cabin with its all-black interior, contrast red stitching on the leather seats, door panels, armrests, and 3-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters.
The premium ambience is enhanced by the glossy dashboard trim, satin chrome inside door handles, electro chrome rear view mirror, aluminum pedals, power adjustable front seats, illuminated push start button, dual zone automatic air conditioning with rear vents, a 3.5” LCD multifunction display, 8″ audio touchscreen system, six speakers, hands-free Bluetooth, Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
The rear seat accommodates three adults comfortably with 39 inches of headroom, 6 inches of legroom, rear aircon vents, and a center armrest with two cupholders. The trunk lid opens automatically when you press twice on the key fob. The trunk has a luggage capacity of 502 liters.
GT ENGINE. The Forte GT’s 204 hp, 265 Nm torque engine is the same as that of the 2020 Hyundai Elantra Sport and Hyundai Veloster, Hyundai Motor being the biggest stakeholder of Kia Motors in South Korea. Some say that the Forte GT’s engine has the same horsepower as the Toyota 86 sports car.
In markets abroad, the Forte GT is compared to the Honda Civic SI, but since the latter is not sold locally, the Forte GT is compared to the Honda Civic RS.
By most accounts, the Civic’s Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) makes it slower to respond than the Forte GT’s 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission.
With a curb weight of 1,366 kg, the Forte GT seems to steer heavily the first time you take the wheel despite the motor-driven power steering.
Choose Sport in the Drive Mode Selector and step hard on the gas pedal to achieve 100 kph in less than eight seconds.
The Forte GT’s sport-tuned multi-link rear suspension provides a stiffer ride than other compact cars, but at the same time allows for great cornering ability.
The Forte GT’s array of safety features includes front, side and curtain airbags, ABS, electronic stability control, hill start assist, cruise control, rear camera display with park guide, front and rear parking sensors.
SUMMING UP. Premises considered, if you want a compact car that is exciting to drive but at the same time ready to transport your family in comfort and safety on out-of-town weekend trips, there is a 2020 Kia Forte GT waiting for you — provided, of course, that you have P1,650,000 at your disposal.
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