Introduction: 2013 Kia Forte Koup
Kia was thinking sporty when it brought the Forte Koup to market. Aimed at a younger demographic, the role of the Forte is to grab those car shoppers would trend towards a vehicle like the Honda Civic. That’s essentially what the Forte Koup is really, an updated Civic built by a different automaker, and Kia has done a great job of capturing some of the magic that the Civic has lost as it’s matured.
The 2013 Kia Forte Koup is an affordably priced, entry-level two door that manages to pack a strong styling punch while also offering up top-notch optional amenities. Kia is attempting to grab a bit of the magic that young buyers felt when they took a new Civic home from the dealership. The Forte Koup is a great attempt at this endeavor, but it isn’t perfect one.
Pricing and Trim Levels: 2013 Kia Forte Koup
Kia has kept things quite simple with respect to the pricing and trim levels available on the 2013 Forte Koup. There are two trims, and each is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox. The base trim is the Forte Koup EX, which is powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine and starts at $17,400 for the manual or $18,400 for the automatic. The sportier Forte Koup SX houses a 2.4-liter four banger under the hood, and starts at $18,800 for the row-your-own version or $19,800 for the let-the-computer-sort-out-the-shifting variety.
Once you start adding a few options in, you can push the price to just under $25,000. That’s for a fully loaded Forte Koup though, and shows that Kia is keen on keeping the price of a Forte Koup within reach for most young new-car shoppers.
Competition: 2013 Kia Forte Koup
There’s no question that the main competition for the Kia Forte Koup is the Honda Civic. The cars share a similar design language, customer base, and overall automotive philosophy. They both feature sub-200 horsepower four cylinder engines, return solid fuel economy figures, and offer comfortable cabin spaces for both driver and front passenger. The Civic has been around for a lot longer, however, and has had time to mature. This is evident by way of the upgraded cabin space that the Honda has to offer.
It seems then that there lies a more direct competitor out there, and it comes from Scion. We’re talking, of course, about the tC. The Forte Koup and the Scion tC both offer nearly identical motors with similar power outputs, fuel economy ratings, and performance figures. In fact, the cars are so close in terms of their specs that it would come down to one’s styling preference and driving experience behind the wheel when the checkbook is broken out and a winner chosen. You really can’t go wrong with either vehicle, but the tC might get the edge for those looking for a bit engagement when seated in the lead bucket.
Exterior: 2013 Kia Forte Koup
If there’s one area of the 2013 Kia Forte Koup that is dialed in, it’s most certainly the exterior styling. The Korean automaker has penned a super-stylish two-door that delivers the appropriate amount of aggression without going over the edge. The look is taken up a notch with the SX trim, thanks to bits of glossy plastic in the front fascia, right-sized 17-inch alloy wheels, and LED taillights. A spoiler out back completes the look that is sporty without overselling what the car is actually capable of.
Interior: 2013 Kia Forte Koup
Just as the outside of the Forte Koup is strong, so too is the interior, and it delivers delightfully in terms of style and functionality. Kia has built a cabin space that offers comfortable and supportive seats, provides great visibility in all directions, and offers leading technology for the compact coupe segment. Bluetooth wireless connectivity is standard kit, which means you can talk on the phone or stream your favorite songs right through the speakers. An optional navigation system means you’ll always know where you’re going as well.
For 2013, Kia upped the premium feel inside the SX version. A metal finish has been applied to the pedals and is accented throughout the cabin. Additionally, the SX trim can be outfitted with an optional Leather Package that wraps the seats and steering wheel in dead cow, and upgrades the front seats with heat.
Powertrain and Fuel Economy: 2013 Kia Forte Koup
Power for the base EX trim is provided by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which is rated at 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque. This mill can be paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic. The manual unit is rated to return 25 miles per gallon in the city, and 34 miles per gallon out on the highway. Should you prefer the slushbox, you only lose one mile per gallon for both city and highway fuel economy.
If more power is your thing, then step up to the SX trim and its 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine. This unit pumps out 173 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque, and can be equipped with the same automatic six or manual six. Fuel economy for the larger engine is still nearly as good as the small unit. The manual gearbox sees an EPA estimated 23 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway. Opt for the automatic and those numbers will dip to 22 miles per gallon city and 31 miles per gallon highway.
Safety: 2013 Kia Forte Koup
A plethora of standard safety features are the order of the day for the 2013 Kia Forte Koup. There are airbags everywhere, including a set of dual advanced front airbags, front seat-mounted airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags. A set of side-impact door beams help keep you safe from accidents coming in from the side. On top of that, the Forte Koup is equipped with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake-force distribution, which means you can haul in the two door smoothly from speed.
Driving Impressions: 2013 Kia Forte Koup
Hopping behind the wheel of the 2013 Kia Forte Koup brings back memories of Honda Civic coupes gone by. This is a good thing, as those older Civic examples have all been great driving cars that yield slow-car-fast fun mixed with excellent efficiency. On paper, the Forte Koup should do just that, and it does… to a point.
The Forte Koup is powered by an engine that enjoys being driven hard, yet it doesn’t sound like it’s having any fun. It just drones on as if it were bored, but you can tell it’s not because it seems eager to keep revving through each gear’s range. There’s no lovely engine note to enjoy here though, sadly, and we wish the refinement could be upgraded to match the cars exterior and interior.
It’s not just the engine that has us feeling a bit let down though, as the handling is the very definition fo numb. We understand that the industry as a whole is shifting to a landscape filled with electronic power steering systems, but that doesn’t mean the units can’t be tuned properly. Dialing in needless heft isn’t what we’re talking about either. We’ve driven cars that have a clear and present steering feel (read: Ford Fusion), and that’s not the case with the Forte Koup. It feels like it’s being controlled by a rubber band that’s far too eager to snap back to center, which is an unwelcome sensation at all speeds.
It’s not all hopeless for this Kia, however, because the engine’s power delivery is great, the suspension feels compliant, and the brakes work quite well. The Forte Koup needs a bit more time to mature, and we think the engine note and handling can catch up to the rest of the car… and the result could be rather wonderful.
Final Thoughts: 2013 Kia Forte Koup
Kia has taken aim at a young demographic, and the Forte Koup is an attractive lure with which to haul in dollars at its dealerships. This is an affordable machine that boasts wonderful amenities and good looks. It’s not as sharp a driver’s car as we would like, but that won’t matter to most shoppers out there. Instead, the fuel economy figures, Bluetooth connectivity, and price tag are the things that will get folks into the driver’s seat.
The automaker has attempted to adopt the magic felt from previous generations of Honda’s Civic, and it’s certainly come close. It’s not quite there, but give it time and it might just be ready to harvest the hearts of a whole new generation of car lovers.
-Affordably priced at all levels.
-Exterior styling is super sharp.
-Interior space is well laid out and can be equipped with top-shelf options.
-Handling is numb.
-Engine drones on and on.