The Forte Koup is a nice-looking car, even if I'm not a fan of the electric blue on this particular test vehicle. Inside, the coupe is very hospitable, with a black leather interior that is saved from being too dour by red stitching along the edges of the seats and a nicely laid out instrument panel that has orange/red backlighting. When I first climbed into the car I was happy to see that it had a manual gearbox -- oh, wait, it's an automatic that's masquerading as a manual, with a leather sleeve around the base of the shifter. Oh well, at least it has six forward speeds rather than the five with which it was introduced a year earlier. And this SX model has the 174-hp four-cylinder rather than the 156-hp base engine, so it's got an extra dose of power.
As I commented when I first drove a Forte (sedan) almost exactly two years ago, the car's performance isn't exactly ground-breaking, but the Forte is still a satisfying car to drive, with a solid feel and a good sense of style.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Our test Kia Forte Koup's corsa blue paint over a black leather interior was attractive. There's good power from the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, but it's noisy. The automatic transmission hiccupped several times in its attempts to upshift when I tossed the Forte into a couple roundabouts. Pretty good throttle response when the transmission is in D for Drive, but I'd rather have a manual in this vehicle. The automatic does have a manual shift gate, wherein you pull back to downshift and push forward to upshift, but that movement, especially the pulling back, is a little tight and just not very fluid. The steering is pretty good.
If someone wants a sporty looking, affordable, economical coupe, there's a lot to like here. I like the interior, and the six-speaker stereo has excellent sound quality, attractive control plate, and a dedicated knob for tuning, which is always a good thing.
I wouldn't recommend buying this Forte Koup without first checking out the Scion tC, but it sure has come a long way since previous Kia small-car offerings. I suspect the next generation will blow us away.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor