First Drive: 2010 Kia Forte Koup

#Kia, #Forte

The brand-new Kia Forte Koup is Kia's first two-door coupe and a sibling to the new Forte sedan, which is Kia's replacement for its sad-sack Spectra and its answer to cars like the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla, and the Mazda3. The "Koup" moniker is a melding of the "K" from "Kia" and the "oup" from "coupe." The Forte Koup will be at Kia dealers by August or September.

Kia's fresh new family look

The Kia Forte Koup's fresh, modern styling is definitely a strong point. Along with the Forte sedan, it represents a new design direction for Kia, which is making a big effort to distinguish its products visually from corporate parent Hyundai's. The Koup's mesh grille and air intake are part of a new Kia signature family look that you'll see on more cars in the future. A strong shoulder line running the length of the car and standard 16-inch or optional 17-inch alloy wheels give the Koup a sharp street stance.

Cabin: A Big Step Up from the Spectra's

We drove two examples of the upper trim level, the SX; one with a manual transmission and black cloth upholstery, the other with an automatic and black leather. Both had sporty front seats with some bolstering and red stitching. The overall cabin design is pleasing, and the build quality is very good. The interior plastics are a little hard to the touch but largely inoffensive. The driver's door armrest needs more padding. The center stack is particularly well-designed and finished with a glossy black material. Stereo and HVAC controls are logical, and a superb six-speaker CD stereo with iPod/MP3 connectivity is standard. The SX's substantial dead pedal (on the far left of the driver's footwell, for resting your left foot when it's not on the clutch) is finished in polished metal like the other pedals.

Rear-seat room is not bad; a five-foot, ten-and-a-half-inch adult can sit in the rear with his head clearing the ceiling, although the rear window comes up over his head.

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