First Look: 2014 Kia Forte Hatchback

We know what you’re thinking: “Oh, Kia finally ported over its European C’eed hatchback as a new five-door Forte in America.” Hold that thought. The two models may share several key ingredients – including platform, roofline, and so on – but the new Forte 5-door is far from a cookie-cutter clone of its European relative.

European Influence, American Twist

Like its four-door sibling, the 2014 Forte 5-door has a front clip that’s entirely different from the European C’eed. The Forte-spec front clip incorporates slender, projector headlamps with LED accents, and the brand’s trademark “tiger nose” grille.

Attractive, yes, but if you’re in the mood for attitude, try on the new SX trim level, which is only offered on the five-door Forte. Order an SX model, and the aforementioned fascia is replaced with a more aggressive clip, complete with a razor-thin upper grille opening; a large, trapezoidal lower grille opening; and large, round fog lamps placed in recesses that on both sides of the lower grille.

The rear quarters of the Forte 5-door are markedly different from the C’eed. While the European model boasts little quarter windows in the C-pillars, the Forte 5 does without them – instead, the rear window frames contain quarter windows, and the rear edges of the frames cut into the triangular-shaped pillar. The Forte 5-door also gains large, wrap-around tail lamps that resemble those on the Forte sedan, but boast a small scallop on their sides that tie neatly into the car’s beltline. Pop the hatch, and the Forte 5-door offers 23.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up – about 0.6 cubic feet shy of a Ford Focus hatch.

Two Engines, One Turbo

SX models don’t just look a little sportier – they also pack a little extra power underhood, courtesy of a turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4. Sound familiar? It should – it’s the same engine offered abroad in the hot Pro C’eed GT hatchback. Even in its federalized form, Kia says the engine should still deliver 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, which is channeled to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.

SX models also gain a number of “sportier” extras, including 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual chrome exhaust tips, LED tail lamps, larger front brake hardware, aluminum sport pedals, and front and rear valance panels finished in faux carbon fiber.

Forte EX 5-door models make do with a less powerful (and less exciting) engine. As is the case on the sedan, EX-spec cars receive Kia’s direct-injection, 2.0-liter I-4, which is rated at 173 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque. EX models will only be offered with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Forte EX 5-door models aren’t quite as extravagantly dressed as Forte SX cars, but do come standard with 16-inch aluminum wheels, Ki’a UVO eServices infotainment system with a rear-view camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Optional equipment on both trim levels include HID headlamps, navigation, heated front and rear seats, leather seats, keyless entry and ignition, automatic climate control, and a sunroof.

Pricing for the 2014 Forte 5-door has yet to be announced, as does pricing for the 2014 Forte sedan. Expect MSRP for a Forte sedan to start in around $19,000, and hatchbacks to carry a slight premium.

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