2009 New York: 2010 Kia Forte Koup

#Kia, #Forte

One year ago, Kia showed the surprisingly handsome but oddly misspelled Koup concept at New York. This year, the company rolled out the production version, which retains much of the sharp styling and adds the Forte name, the latter indicating its kinship with the new Forte compact sedan.

The two-door rides on the same, 104-inch wheelbase as the sedan but is some two inches shorter overall. The Koup is more about style than rock-bottom affordability, so it skips the sedan's base, LX, trim level, instead going with EX and SX only. The EX comes with a 2.0-liter four making a healthy 156 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque, available with a five-speed stick or a four-speed automatic.

Fuel economy with either transmission is an impressive 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway. The sportier SX is powered by a larger, 2.4-liter four, with 173 hp and 168 lb-ft. The SX also adds a gear to each transmission offering (6-speed manual or five-speed automatic). Fuel economy falls back slightly, to 22/32 manual with the manual and 23/31 mpg with the automatic. The SX also adds a retuned suspension (struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear) and cool-looking 17-inch wheels.

Pricing hasn't yet been announced, but we'd expect to see figures in the mid to high teens; the strategy is to undercut the Scion tC in price. The Forte Koup arrives at dealers in late summer.

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