Luckily for Kia, almost nobody will test drive this car with a manual transmission. I've got to echo the complaints from my co-workers about the complete lack of feel from the clutch pedal and the electric throttle's somewhat odd response pattern. I do give Kia props for offering a six-speed manual transmission in the $18,000 range. Several competitors still use five-speed manuals in this class. I'd still like to sample a Forte Koup with an automatic transmission just to see how much smoother the experience is.
Drivetrain quirks aside, the Forte Koup is a very compelling automobile. There's a bit of style, lots of good features, and a very tempting price. And you know you're getting Kia's long warranty to boot.
It's fantastic to see Kia is starting a product renaissance along the line of what Hyundai has done since the introduction of the Genesis. For a while there it looked like Kia wasn't getting any of the love that Hyundai was enjoying in terms of R&D or media coverage. Seeing the Soul and Forte come out so close together should give Kia dealers a lot to be happy about.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor