Review of: 2014 Kia Forte Koup 2dr Cpe Auto SX Premium
2014 Kia Forte Koup: Turbocharged two-door
By Jil McIntosh
Jul. 24, 2014
Handsome new design? Check. New direct-injection turbo engine? Check. Second set of doors missing in action? Indeed, and well-all-righty-then: it’s time to take the 2014 Kia Forte Koup out for a spin.
Kia’s entire Forte family has been redesigned for 2014, including the sedan, hatchback, and the oddly-spelled two-door coupe. It’s available with a 2.0-litre in the EX trim level, but I had the top-level SX, which uses the new 1.6-litre turbocharged engine.
Pricing starts at $20,995 for the EX, while the SX begins at $23,695 with a six-speed manual transmission. My car was optioned with a Luxury Package, which comes only with a six-speed automatic, and adds a sunroof, xenon headlamps, navigation system, enhanced instrument cluster, leather seats with driver’s side ventilation, and heated steering wheel for a total of $28,295 before freight and taxes.
Pros & Cons
- + Off-the-line responsiveness
- + Styling
- + Navigation system
- - Cargo liftover height
- - Visibility
- - Steering feel
Almost everything looks better with just two doors, and the Koup is no exception. This new model is sleeker than before, and also slightly larger, which gives it more interior space.
Kia’s signature “tiger shark” grille is a wee slit here, positioned atop a wide lower air intake that’s bisected by a front bumper patterned as carbon fibre. That faux-fibre continues at the rear, where it’s used on the diffuser.
I like the upward slant of the Koup’s profile, especially the line that bisects it from the headlights to the tail, but as with most coupes, there’s an issue of where to put the back windows and the C-pillars. This results in a wider blind spot when you’re making a shoulder check.
The Koup shares its interior with its siblings, but with sliding and folding front seats for access to the rear. It’s handsome and laid out well, but on both the Koup and Forte5 I’ve driven, my complaint is the same: there’s too much plain, hard plastic in a car that rings in just a shade under $30,000. On the inside, the car doesn’t look its price.
The seats are comfortable, and I found they had enough bolstering for the car’s sportier performance, but not so much that it was a pain to get in and out. Very few owners are going to be racing their Koups on the track, and for the rest of us, it’s nice to run errands without performing contortions at every stop.
The SX’s heated, perforated-leather seats include a cooling function—wait, make that “seat,” because only the driver gets the refrigeration. C’mon, Kia, when are you going to wake up and put in two of these chairs? How do I convince my passenger that I didn’t get hosed on that close-to-thirty-grand tag, when I’m nice and cool on a blistering day, but he’s stuck to his seat?
All models include a rearview camera, Bluetooth, CD stereo with satellite radio, auxiliary input, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, while the Luxury A/T trim line adds an enhanced multimedia stereo with navigation, the only trim level to include it.
Kia has figured out that simple is good, and everything’s very easy to use, including the navigation’s voice control. Rather than leaving you continually waiting for a chime and saying each line separately, the system lets you input the entire address in one shot. That’s becoming far more common with many manufacturers, but it’s still worthy of praise.
The new 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder makes 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, and while it’s probably a lot more fun with the stick shift, it’s still strong with my tester’s six-speed automatic. The turbo spools up quickly, power is linear and the car feels quick, although it’s also very quiet. That’s a plus or minus, depending on whether you just like some extra oomph in a daily driver, or if you’re looking for a pocket rocket with an exhaust note to match.
The engine runs on regular-grade gasoline, and against published fuel figures of 9.3 L/100 km in the city and 6.6 on the highway, I averaged 9.2 in combined driving.
Despite the two hundred ponies, there’s next to no torque steer, and the performance-tuned suspension does a great job of providing a smooth, stable ride. But Kia’s engineers still haven’t done the best job of dialing in the electric power steering, which sends virtually nothing in the way of feedback. Input response is good, and the car handles well, but there’s just no communication. There’s a button to switch the steering weight between “comfort,” which is way too vague; “normal,” which is still too light for my liking; and “sport,” which is firm, but lifeless. It’s an unnecessary gimmick.
Despite my impression that the interior doesn’t look quite match the price tag, the Forte Koup can be a value-priced alternative to some of the “hot hatches” and sportier models on the market, especially if you opt for the manual-equipped SX (the only one of the two trim lines with the turbo) at a starting price of $23,695.
By comparison, Honda’s Civic Si Coupe makes almost the same horsepower as the Koup, but less torque, and starts at $28,383. The Focus ST gets 252 horses out of its 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine, but it starts at $29,999, while the Volkswagen GTI, producing 210 horses, starts at $27,995 in two-door configuration and $32,895 with four doors.
The Forte Koup straddles the fence between an everyday vehicle and a sports car. Its two-door configuration makes it far less practical than a sedan, and its engine, while very good, falls short of the higher figures that most performance-oriented models create. That said, if you want something good-looking and with a bit of fire in its belly, along with an 87-octane octane requirement, long warranty, and numerous features, the Koup might just be the car that punches your ticket.