The Forte Koup is a great little package. Like many Korean designs, the Forte's exterior styling is derivative but the Koup, more than its sedan sibling, is really crisp and attractive and should appeal to the under-25 demographic Kia has set its sights on with this new compact. I'm not a big fan of the two-tone wheels but as standard wheels go on an $18,000 car, they are distinctive, and more importantly, made of alloy, not steel, a rarity for this class.
The interior is really well done. Materials are decent to good quality, the dash layout is functional and attractive, and expensive-looking touches like the grippy metal pedals give the interior a sporty, customized look. The cabin feels roomy and is, in fact, bigger than the Honda Civic coupe in every dimension. There are also enough cubbies-and entertainment features-to keep gadget-happy drivers well organized.
This is the rare occasion that I would prefer an automatic in a compact car. The Kia's frustrating throttle-clutch relationship-I stalled twice, and over-revved numerous times-is made even worse by the lack of feedback from both and the vague shift action is completely unsatisfying. The ride and handling balance is fine and the steering is precise but could use a little more weight at low speeds. With every new vehicle, Kia, like its corporate sibling Hyundai, inches closer and closer to the class-leaders and this Forte Koup is no exception. It may not be an enthusiasts dream, but it looks great inside and out, and for a mere $18,195 offers an amazing list of standard features.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor