Text: Martin Aguilar / Photos: Nickey Jones Bautista | posted October 15, 2015 14:56
The sportier Forte
With coupes being a rarity in the market, it almost becomes a default choice to opt for the four-door or five-door version of a model line. Yet with the Koup variant, Kia shows it's not as impractical as most people think.
Kia PH introduced the Forte trio (sedan-hatch-coupe) last June 2015, expanding the plethora of variants and vehicles available in the Philippine market. Among the three Fortes, the coupe version (Koup in Kia speak) is probably the head turner, no doubt due to its sleek look and sportier stance.
Visually, the 2015 Forte Koup sports Kia's new design language courtesy of Peter Schreyer. The Forte Koup has a sharp-looking fascia that shares similarities with other Kia vehicles such as the Soul, Rio, Carens and even the Picanto. The familiar look within the Kia lineup is credited to Schreyer's design dubbed as the tiger nose grill. Through the tiger nose grill, Kia's vehicle lineup was able to establish a recognizable look. To put things in perspective, before joining the Korean automaker, Schreyer penned the Audi A3, A4 and A6 which also have identical design language.
Up front, the Koup has sweptback headlights integrated with daytime running lights which stretch deep into the fenders. The Koup sports a slimmer chrome-plated upper grill, which goes well with the overall exterior styling of the vehicle as compared to the larger grill fitted to the sedan and hatchback versions.
Towards its side, this two-door has a sloping roof that tapers down at the rear to give it a sporty stance. It also has wide wheel arches and a straight character line that extends toward the back. Of note in the Koup are the frameless doors — another traditional coupe hallmark.
The rear has large, wraparound taillights, a lip spoiler and a chrome-plated exhaust pipe which maintains the Koup's sporty demeanor. In addition, the bumper is integrated with diffusers and it is finished off with 17-inch alloy wheels.
One cool thing about this vehicle is that when you approach the locked Forte Koup, it senses the smart key and the exterior mirrors swing to their normal position along with an ambient light. For a two-door car, rear occupants have a good amount of legroom.
The Koup's interior has a straightforward design which incorporates only the essential buttons/functions. It has a driver oriented interior layout wherein you don't need to lean forward in order to reach the controls. The Koup also has a large instrument cluster which is integrated with easy-to-read white-on-black gauges. Kia made use of chrome accents around the air conditioning controls and push-start button.
It also has a three-spoke steering wheel with audio controls, paddle shifters, a leather-wrapped gear shift, round airconditioning dials and a touchscreen display. The Koup's audio system features a CD and MP3 player, Bluetooth connectivity and auxiliary port. For added comfort, the vehicle comes with a center armrest, which is useful during long drives.
Under the hood, the Forte is powered by a 2.0-liter NU inline-four engine that delivers 161 PS at 6500rpm and 194 Nm of torque at 4800 rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a front wheel drive layout.
In the city, this Forte Koup didn't disappoint due to its light steering and agile handling. Changing lanes and weaving around tight city roads can be done with ease. It feels light, responsive and sprightly, due to the vehicle's compact body and decent power. It can also drive through the dilapidated roads within reason, though the ride does get a little bumpy. When tackling uphill roads, the engine is never short of climbing power and it is stable when you're going downhill too. In terms of fuel economy, the Koup registered 9 km/l (moderate to heavy traffic).
On the highway, the Koup continues to deliver the goods. First, the vehicle churns out power as soon as you step on the gas pedal with relatively minimum lag. The engine shifts fast and smoothly, giving you the confidence to overtake with good measure and ease.
When it comes to rural roads, the Koup has good braking power and handles nicely, especially around tight turns and bends.
Furthermore, the vehicle is equipped with three steering modes – Normal, Comfort and Sport. In a nutshell, Normal steering mode is perfect for everyday driving, while Comfort is for highway cruising. The Sport mode tightens steering response which yields to better handling. Fuel consumption wise, the Forte registered 16 km/l at an average speed of 80 km/h.
Overall, most of us would still opt to get compact sedans rather than coupes due to their larger interior space and practicality. However, the 2015 Kia Forte Koup's sharp and sporty look as well as its decent driving performance could be enough for a change of heart. Do you think so?