July 23, 2021 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2021 Kia Forte GT

The last old-school sporty compact

What was last year’s best-in-class C! Award winner, the spirited Peter Schreyer-designed 3rd generation Kia Forte GT, literally has one last unit for sale in the most unique color, Orange Delight. The color is a one-off for our market which makes it even more special. The Forte model has now been replaced with the new K3 moniker that was used in other markets before along with the new face-lift and equipment upgrades designed by Karim Antoine Habib, which includes losing the conventional manual e-brake so you can no longer perform j-turns.

Orange Delight Kia Forte GT

Orange Delight Kia Forte GT

Our last test unit is this red variant seen here, while the lone Orange Delight sits at the LausAutoGroup Kia Dealership in Pampanga. The “baby stinger GT” is constructed with 54% advanced high-strength steel, uses fully independent sport-tuned suspension (the rear being a multi-link setup), an inch larger front disc brakes at 12-inches compared to its siblings but shares the same rear disc size of 10.3-inches, an excellent 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox transmission and the most potent 1.6-liter direct injection intercooled turbo powerplant in its class. 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 x 7.5J multi spoke alloys. 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. 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 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 cool key fob, multiple airbags, and rear aircon vents.

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 Twin-Scroll Turbo, Dual-CVVT
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 228 km/h (142 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 6.7 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 27 mpg City / 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.
C! Editors Rating 9.5/10
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