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2010 Kia Forte Koup

Jeff Glucker July 20, 2010 Kia Reviews, Road Test Reviews 4 Comments

Most of us on this planet are not wealthy. Most of you reading this review enjoy spirited driving. Seeing that you are most likely not a person of means and that you enjoy being behind the wheel of a vehicle, you’re probably intimately familiar with the “slow-car-fast” concept. This is to say, you know the thrill of driving a slow car quickly.

Growing up, I always found the ideal vehicle for this concept to be the Honda Civic. When they are not adorned with field goal posts, unpainted body kits, and neons, the older Civics are a blast to drive. I am thinking specifically of the 5th and 6th generation (1992-2000) cars. They were simple machines that were frugal and fun at the same time. As Honda grew larger, so did the Civic and it is now in its 8th generation with the 9th gen car on its way. It is still a great car yet it seems to have drifted away from its humble origins. You can actually build a Civic coupe to $30,000, though if you do that you may have recently suffered some form of head trauma and should visit your local ER.

There is a car that does fill the gap that the Civic has moved on from. The 2010 Kia Forte Koup is here to show you that slow cars can still go fast, attacking the road while not attacking your wallet.

The 2010 Kia Forte Koup is the Korean automakers first two-door, which is evident since they don’t know how to spell “coupe”. Dictionary issues aside, the Forte is an affordable two-door that is fitted with just enough features to keep you happy inside and it boasts attractive lines to keep you smiling when you’re outside the car.

The Forte Koup is available with a base 2.0L inline four-cylinder engine which produces 156 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. That is more power than you will find in the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Chevrolet Cobalt base model coupes. The Koup you see here however features a 2.4L DOHC inline four-cylinder which 173 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a six-speed manual transmission which is not as tight as I hoped but certainly more crisp than a manual offering from a more expensive Volkswagen unit. This powertrain tag-team is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. I enjoyed running the little mill right up to the 6,000 RPM redline however the noise I got in return was quite tinny. I wasn’t sure what to expect in the aural-sensation department but I enjoyed the audio system far more than the exhaust note.

On the road, the Kia Koup is a real joy to drive. The front stabilizer bar, sport-tuned suspension, and rightly-sized tires (215/45R 17) allow me to maneuver the Forte with ease to the point where I would even call the sub-3000 pound  two-door nimble.

The 2010 Kia Forte Koup has another major plus going for it. Even in a color I would never choose personally (Copperhead), it is certainly a looker. The Forte Koup has the perfect blend of aggressive lines and restraint. The designers did not go overboard and that is a very good thing. The fenders have a slight bulge yet are not muscular and the front end has a sporty tone without looking like an a coked-up catfish aggressive alien. This is not a sports car, muscle car, or luxury car and it has no lines to suggest it thinks otherwise. The Kia Forte Koup is  like a lean person who works out and which you pay no attention to, but if he or she took their shirt off you would realize they might be able to kick your ass.

Inside the 2010 Forte is a mix of simplicity and surprising content. The seats are nicely bolstered and comfortable and the all-black-with-subtle-seat-piping color scheme works well here. It is more aggressive than a drab gray interior and adds to the slow-car-fast sensation. Bluetooth connection and an aux input are standard on the SX model and the sound over the six-speaker system was surprisingly good. It wouldn’t win in a contest between more upmarket systems but it provided a nice range of sound. However, that was only after I turned the bass way down. I enjoy a good amount of low-end sound, but at one point I felt like I was searching for the Brown Note – not good in a car I don’t own. After I found the radios sweet spot, I was able to full enjoy the ample leg room up front. The surprise of the interior though was certainly the back seat. In an entry-level coupe, back-seat legroom is typically a mean prank forced upon “friends”. In the Forte Koup I was shocked to find that I didn’t have to eat my knees or snap my neck. It is downright comfortable back there.

The 2010 Kia Forte Koup starts at $16,595. The more powerful SX version starts at just $17,695. The Kia Forte Koup you see here has a sunroof and the SX Leather package which includes leather trim and heated front seats to bring the costs up to $20,090. The car is fitted with the right amount of content inside, has a powertrain underneath which is fun and frugal, and it boasts stylish exterior lines. Getting all this in a new car for $20,000 or less is getting harder each day. Throw in the best in class 10yr/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and it almost makes it a no-brainer. Spelling issues aside, the 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX is an affordable hoon-machine that keeps a smile on your face and money in your wallet.

  • Maymar

    True. Unfortunately, I think the only way to really do something is for the dealers to block their local crap/top 40/bassheavy/whatever station (Z103, in my case) during the PDI, to drive the less desirable buyers to something else.

  • SirNotAppearing

    This. I read the review, and hey, that's a nice, economical car. But damn, I spent thousands less on my low-mileage E46 wagon. At any price point up to about a purely hypothetical $50k, there's always a used car that is far preferable to me.

  • Speed:Sport:Life just did a review of a 6AT V6 without the track pack: http://www.speedsportlife.com/2010/07/01/speedspo

    The takeaway: get the stick and the track pack.

  • DanRoth

    It has not. They both seem to skip off expansion joints on New England's war-zone pavement. The ride needs some more suppleness, but it doesn't kill the car's goodness and value.