2015 Kia Forte 5 SX: Around the Block

#Kia, #Forte

Surely I'm the only guy in America who is conspicuously not impressed by the shape of the 2015 Mazda 3 5-door hatchback. For me, the look of the 2004 version, developed under the direction of designer Morey Callum, is still the measure of 5-door hatchbacks.

This is why the 2015 Kia Forte 5 SX looks so terrific to me. As uninspired as the sedan version of the Forte might be, the hatchback perfectly balances dynamism with practicality, which is the essence of the magic that a 5-door must have before anyone will understand the unique appeal of the package. It's largely unchanged from 2014 except for electronics, so it still looks great: A simple boxy shape, though not square-rigged. A simple, visual force vector that rises from front to back, and no weird grille. Some sculpted character to the surfaces, yet no tortured surface excitement.

The interior of the 2015 Kia Forte 5 SX also looks great, although the leather upholstery of the $2300 SX Premium Package (sunroof, et al) surely plays a role in my impression of quality. The $1900 navigation system (plus HID headlights, et al) also surely plays a role here. The rear seats go down and you can carry stuff and all that. Yet what I like best is the driving position, which combines a relatively low cowl with a squared-up driving position, and you get kind of expansive field of view that you want on the narrow canyon roads out here around Los Angeles.

Sadly, the 2015 Kia SX Forte 5 doesn't drive as well as a Mazda 3, and in this I am not surprised. The turbocharged, direct-injected 1.6-liter inline-4 is rated at 201 hp, but you really need the standard, six-speed manual transmission to get the engine busy enough to impress you. When it's hooked up with this particular car's six-speed automatic transmission, the whole business sounds like a sound-effects loop for Storm Chasers. As far as the chassis calibration goes, this is no Mazdaspeed 3, particularly the clumsy electric-assist steering. All you really have on your side are the 225/40R-18 88V Nexen CP-671 tires, and unfortunately there's a lot of ride harshness in the bargain. Kia's development skills have improved dramatically recently, but the Forte 5 first came to market a bit before all the really good stuff happened.

Sure looks great, though.

2015 Kia Forte 5 SX Specifications

Base price $21,890
Price as tested $27,100
Engine 1.6L turbo DOHC I-4
Power 201 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 195 lb-ft @ 1750-4500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drive Front-wheel
Length x width x height 171.3 x 70.1 x 57.1 in
Wheelbase 106.3 in
Curb Weight 3122 lbs
Cargo Capacity 23.2 cu ft behind 3rd seat
Fuel economy 27/46/33 mpg city/highway/combined
Mike Thomas
I'm missing the attractive part.
I have to agree that the current Mazda3 lacks something--or is it too much? Nice looking from the front and back, but too many curves on the side and the wheel arches make the wheels look small. The European Kia Cee'd is the looker vs. the Forte5. Still wish we could just have a turbo Kia Soul... [with the driving dynamics sorted out!]
Nick Kochan
The mazda is way better looking but the new engine and hp is another step in the right direction for kia
Kyree S. Williams
The Cee'd is slightly different, but it's a close relative to the Kia Forte 5.
It's a pretty good hatch for this market, and with decent power I could consider one for my 20 something yr old cousin. However, at 27K a larger, pretty fuel efficient AWD Forester XT makes for a superior purchase. If Subaru had some b@lls and provided the XV with their NA FA20 engine with the BRZ's output, this would have no chance, but lucky for Kia Subaru doesn't have it in them.
Michael Anderson
Dammy Onafowokan
That character line is awful.
Eric Klein
I'm not attracted to it.
Lee Klein
Mazda should be flattered.
Nir Cohen
It is called Ceed in European markets.
R Scott Torgan
so let me get this straight..... really? :/

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