June 30, 2020 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2020 Kia Forte GT

Focused Celebration

The all-new 3rd generation Kia Forte GT just missed the cutoff for last year’s 15th C! Awards. It is a crying shame too because despite a few packaging compromises to manage retail costs, Kia Philippines has been able to import a truly compelling compact that deserves its rightful place in garages. The new Forte model range is certainly not a clear overall best-in-its-class, but they are very competitive. In fact, depending on the car buyer’s needs, the mid-range 126 bhp EX at P1,195,000 has most of the good bits found in our Clear White GT test unit.

Compared to the outgoing Forte, the new model, which I would like to call the “baby Stinger GT”, is 81 mm (3.2 inches) longer, 20 mm (.8 inches) wider, and 5 mm (.2 inches) lower with the same 2700 mm (106.3 inches) wheelbase. The length of the wheelbase may be the same but the chassis is considerably better now as it is constructed with 54% advanced high-strength steel compared to the outgoing model which also allows it to use better suspension components. The new more rigid chassis also improved weight savings to as much as 150 pounds lighter than before even with the well-designed larger cabin and trunk. Peter Schreyer is responsible for its design hence why it looks so much like the Stinger. Kia’s California design studio under Kurt Kahl’s direction is responsible for the 1st and 2nd generation models. We actually owned a 1st generation two-door 2.0-liter Koup model in our C! Fastfleet.

The Kia Forte shares its platform with the 6th generation Hyundai’s Elantra. The domestic packaging for the Philippine versions of both models are starkly different with the Kia’s coming out on top of every paralleled model. Since Hyundai Philippines did not import the Elantra GT and went instead with the unique Veloster Turbo to represent affordable high-performance driving solutions, the Forte GT stands out as the optimal harbinger for sporting compact sedans which used to be the domain of Honda. The Forte GT, like the Veloster, uses fully independent multi-link rear suspension (the EX and LX models use the more modest rear torsion-beam setup) but with a 50 mm longer chassis, while employing the same 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox transmission and potent 1.6-liter direct injection intercooled turbo. The spacious Forte GT sedan weighs about 70 kg more than a similarly packaged and considerably smaller Veloster. In our market, the Veloster is specified with lower trim yet costs P148,000.00 more. The standard 17 x 7J alloys wrapped with 225/45R17 91W Kumho Ecsta HS51 tires look fairly well but don’t look or function as good as the optional 18-inchers. The standard ride and grip would improve dramatically with better tires.

There are a lot of design features that are deliberately similar to the Stinger which are all very welcome. I particularly like how the front side-air vents look in contrast to the rest of the well-designed dashboard. The unique exterior bodywork includes a fully functional dual exhaust system with a refreshingly good soundtrack and tasteful rear spoiler. The projector front fog lamps are halogen but the rest of the lighting are LED which is fantastic. The abundant red piping and stitching contrast very well against the sea of black leather and padded plastics. I am glad to see that a mechanical rear e-brake is still used as well which is appropriate for this genuinely enthusiastic sporty compact sedan. That plus the ability to disable the nanny systems combined with the overachieving drivetrain and accurate steering makes the Forte GT an authentic driver’s car. The Forte GT also uses an inch larger front disc brakes at 12-inches compared to its siblings but shares the same rear disc size of 10.3-inches with the EX (the LX uses drum rear brakes).

The floating 8-inch center screen with rear guided parking camera is cool and works fairly well with standard Apple Carplay and Android Auto capability but I wish the 6-speakers were swapped out for the optional Harman Kardon® infotainment system that would have had built-in navigation as well. In addition to its generous list of standard equipment, other notable features on the Forte include an excellent multi-function flat-bottom multi-surface steering wheel, power-adjustable front driver seat, front and rear parking sensors, crisp analog instruments with a 3.5-inch multi-function central gauge display, body kit with red insert front grille, aluminum pedals, electro chromatic rearview mirror, drive mode selection, cruise control, smart key with a cool key fob, multiple airbags, and rear aircon vents. I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the Kia Forte GT, it was a surprise hit for me. The Kia Forte GT at the moment is the finest, best performing and most enjoyable compact sedan in its class. It is the Veloster with more luxury, space, and comfort; it is truly the baby Stinger GT.

 

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4
Displacement 1591 cc
Cylinder Head dohc 16V
Fuel Injector Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 201 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 195 lb-ft @ 1500-4500 rpm
Transmission 7-speed DCT

Performance

Top Speed 232 km/h (145 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 6.8 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 11.5 km/L (27 mpg) City / 14.9 km/L (35 mpg) Highway

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 1,650,000.00
What's Great Uncommon valor, nice details, very nimble, handsome, strong dynamic performance, desirable and fun to drive.
What's Not So Wish it had the 9-speaker 320-watt Harman Kardon® audio system with built-in Navigation, Kia Drive Wise System, 18-inch alloys, and wireless device charging. The price.
C! Editors Rating 9.5/10
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