There is a reason why automakers call facelifts a minor model change. It usually involves a few tweaks to the bumpers, a little more standard equipment inside, and the addition of more colors. But over at Kia, they have a different interpretation of the term “minor updates”.

That's because the 2021 Kia K3 (known as the Forte here) didn't just get a few cosmetic changes, they also enhanced several features and added several hardware upgrades.

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In tune with the recently redesigned Kia models, the 2021 K3/Forte gets a sharper exterior design. Out go the large headlights and sizable grille. Its new look bucks the trend of giving new models huge grilles by giving this one a slimmer panel and aggressive-looking headlights. It also gets the new Kia badge, now sitting proudly in the center. It also gets a bit of a refresh at the rear with new LED signatures for the taillights and redesigned bumpers. The rest of the body carries over relatively unchanged, but there are new wheel options to keep it looking fresh.

As for measurements, the Forte is 4,645 mm long, 1,800 mm wide, and 1,440 mm tall. There is also a hatchback version dubbed the K3 GT. The shorter five-door body spans 4,515 mm long. The rest of the hatchback's dimensions are identical to the sedan.

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The interior looks much like the current model, but you have to take a closer look to see what's new. For instance, the infotainment screen is wider than the outgoing model. It also features the brand's latest onboard software. Dubbed UVO, the 10.25-inch screen houses a built-in navigation system, smartphone connectivity, and even dual Bluetooth connections. It can even call for rescue if it detects airbag deployment

There are other new features in the 2021 Forte. Kia added a digital instrument cluster for higher-spec models. They also got rid of the mechanical parking brake in favor of an electronic unit. A new interior trim color was also added this year.

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Kia also ramped up the safety features this year. Top-spec versions come standard with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and automatic emergency braking. It is also equipped with rear cross-traffic alert, rear automatic emergency braking, safe exit warning, automatic brake hold, and rear passenger alert.

On to the engines and there are two available. The first is a new 1.6-liter with 123 PS and 156 Nm of torque, while the other one is a 1.6-liter turbo that puts out 204 PS and 265 Nm of torque. Another significant change is the transmission for the 1.6-liter models. Instead of a six-speed automatic, it now uses Kia's Intelligent Variable Transmission or IVT. It's essentially Kia's take on the continuously variable transmission (CVT).

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The car is now available in its home market in South Korea. As for the rest of the world, we will have to wait and see.