By William Maley
Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
April 25, 2013
The compact front-wheel drive coupe class has been on the decline in recent years. Once a bright light in the automotive world with a number of manufacturers competing, the class has shrunk down to just four models; the Honda Civic Coupe, Scion tC, Hyundai Elantra Coupe, and Kia Forte Koup. The oldest one of this group, the Forte Koup, has fallen to the wayside since the other three have either been refreshed or are a new model. But does being the oldest model in this group mean that you shouldn’t take a look at it? I recently found out as I spent a week with a 2013 Kia Forte Koup SX.
Doing my first walk around the Koup when it first arrived, my inner monologue chimed in with “wait, is this a Honda Civic Coupe doppelganger?” Looking at the front and side profile, the Forte Koup does seem to pull some liberties from the Civic coupe in the overall design. Thankfully, Kia did make some changes to make it not seem like a carbon copy of a Civic coupe. The front has the now familiar Kia grille all blacked-out and a unique bumper treatment. The side profile features a set of muscular lines and a set of sharp seventeen-inch wheels.
Inside, the Forte Koup doesn’t have the same styling exuberance as the exterior. It's pretty much the same interior you’ll find in the Forte sedan and five-door model. It's not the nicest interior, but most of the interior bits are screwed in very well (aside from one door panel that rattled slightly when I was playing certain types of music) and the layout is very utilitarian.
Space is very much at a premium thanks to short roof height. Up front, the limited headroom space is eaten up by the optional sunroof. I had to adjust the drivers seat in such a way that my head wasn’t touching the roof, which meant I wasn’t in the most comfortable position during my time. Combine that with a seat that I found to be very uncomfortable, and I would come out feeling very sore from a drive. The backseat should only be reserved for small kids thanks to the tight head and legroom.
However, the Forte Koup does fight back with an abundance of equipment. My tester came with such amenities such as heated leather seats, navigation, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, hands-free calling, alloy pedals, and a proximity key. Kia still knows how to do the value argument very well.
Under the hood for the Forte Koup SX is a 2.4L DOHC four-cylinder engine producing 173 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. At low rpms, the 2.4L pulls surprisingly well, making it plenty quick for those who drive in the drive in the city or suburbs. Moving higher in the rpm range, the engine begins to run out of steam. This is very noticeable when entering a freeway or deciding to throw the Koup around.
Transmissions for the Forte Koup are a six-speed manual or an automatic with paddle shifters. My car came equipped with the automatic and found it to be a perfect companion. The paddle shifters are a great addition since they can operated when the transmission is in Drive or manual mode. My only complaint with the paddle shifter are the placement the paddles. Mounting them on the steering wheel is horrible place since the paddles are always moving around. Putting them on the steering column would be a better idea.
Fuel economy for the Forte Koup SX stands at 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined when equipped with six-speed automatic. My average for the evaluation stood at 26 MPG. Highway driving saw the number climb to 30.2 MPG.
The Forte Koup’s ride is decidedly mixed. On one hand, the Forte’s suspension tuning and heavy-weighted steering make it a pleasure to drive around corners. On the other hand, the Forte Koup’s suspension needs to go to finishing school. I found the ride to be unbearable when driving on the rutted Michigan roads as the suspension has no give at all. The steering also needs some refinement as its too heavy in daily use.
At the end of my time with Forte Koup SX, I was left conflicted. The Koup has a lot going for and against it. It's a great value and has some snazzy looks, but the ride and steering are a mixed bag. The big problem is the current Forte Koup isn’t a standout anymore like it used to be. Honda and Scion have introduced new versions of their compact coupes, the Civic and tC respectively. There is also the Hyundai Elantra coupe in play which brings some very startling looks and impressive fuel economy to the class.
It's better to wait for the new Forte Koup, due out sometime later this year, than to get the current one.
Disclaimer: Kia provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.
Year - 2013
Make – Kia
Model – Forte Koup
Trim – SX
Engine – 2.4L Inline-Four
Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM – 173 @ 6,000 RPM
Torque @ RPM – 168 @ 4,000 RPM
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26
Curb Weight – 2,891 lbs
Location of Manufacture – Hwaseong, Gyeonggi; South Korea
Base Price - $19,800.00
As Tested Price - $24,520.00* (Includes $775.00 destination charge)
(Note: This Forte Koup didn't come with a window sticker, so I'm guessing the as tested price here)
SX Technology Package - $1,800
Leather Package - $1,000
Sunroof - $795
Rear Spoiler - $395