If you take a look at the Kia Forte GT and think it could just have easily been a Volkswagen or Audi, your mind isn’t cloudy. A good portion of Kia’s design team and engineering gnomes come from The Fatherland. And, that rapid insolence carries over on the road where the car kicks it like it’s swallowing Autobahn – wherever your version of the famed motorway leads. Beyond all of that, it spoils passengers rotten and presents a window sticker that reflects Kia’s reputation for value.
Autobahn-ready looks begin with angry LED headlamps, slashed lower facias, and strings of running lamps. It definitely throws some attitude given it’s essentially an economy sedan with added zing. It is sophisticated though, with complex body sculpting, arching roofline, and meaty 18”wheels. Around back, a full swath of LED lamps, subtle decklid spoiler, and under-bumper diffuser(ish) leave a strong impression as the Forte scats by. Red accents front and rear echo the VW GLI – an obvious competitor.
It’s all business inside, but that cool relaxed kind of business that’s fashionable today. GT brings deeply bolstered sport seats and thick leather-wrapped steering wheel with red stitching on both. Add to that heated and ventilated front thrones, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a power sunroof. Seats are SynTex, but feel real and are easy to clean. Devices connect to the smooth Harman Kardon audio system via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless charging. Automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection bolster safety while adaptive cruise and rear seat occupant alert add convenience.
Kia recently made waves with the EV6 electric crossover and Sportage Hybrid, but the Forte GT proves the Korean automaker has mastered the art of powerful little powertrains. Behind the sleek face is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine laying down 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed to the front wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Shift it with paddles if you please and click through the drive modes to configure the powertrain from Eco to Sport. Fuel economy rates a frugal 27/35-MPG city/highway.
The rear is suspended by torsion beam, but you’d never guess it from behind the wheel. The chassis is firm enough for carving up backroads but compliant enough to soak up rough city pavement and sail over bridge expansion joints. I did driving duties on the way to a state park about 70 miles away, over which fast sweepers illuminated the competence of steering and suspension. My neighbors could do without the sport exhaust rumble, but I kinda dig it.
If you’re going to buy an affordable sedan for daily commutes, you might as well get one that’s pleasing to the eyes and fun to drive on the weekends. It’s also up to very long days on fast Interstates. Pick your destination, dial in directions, and enjoy the journey. A base price of $19,490 came to $26,840 well-equipped, making the Forte GT serious competition for the Honda Accord Sport, Toyota Corolla XSE, Nissan Sentra SR, Hyundai Elantra N Line, and that other car from Germany.
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