Drive

Review: 2015 Kia Forte5 is fast and fun without the harsh

2015 Kia Forte5

• Type. Four-door, 5-passenger compact hatchback

• Engines. 2.0-litre four-cylinder (173 hp); 1.6-litre turbocharged four (201)

• Transmissions. Six-speed manual or automatic

• Base price. $19,495 base, $28,795 as-tested

Although Kia initially entered the Canadian market by focusing almost exclusively on price, it now has added performance and styling to the list, even on its compact Forte models.

Redesigned in 2014, the Forte5 hatchback now includes a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine in its top SX trim line, the model I tested. The base engine is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder that makes 173 horsepower, while the turbo model spins out 201 horses.

You can get both engines with a six-speed manual transmission, but mine was a six-speed automatic.

Pricing for the 2015 models starts at $19,495 for the LX+, while the SX starts at $24,195 and rises to $28,795 for the fully loaded package.

The Forte5 has morphed from a relatively plain car into a sharp-looking model, with its tiger-shark grille, flared wheel arches and upswept body lines.

Inside, the redesigned interior features an upgraded instrument cluster, a new steering wheel, and numerous cubbies for small-item storage, including a covered bin where you can plug in and hide your electronics.

Heated front seats are standard on all models, and the SX Luxury adds heated rear seats and a driver’s seat that’s also cooled. Unfortunately, the front-seat passenger doesn’t get one as well.

The rear seats fold flat for extra cargo space, and there are more hidden storage bins under the cargo floor.

The turbo Forte5 is fast and fun to pilot, but it feels more like a daily driver that’s quick on its feet, rather than a harsh sports model that could get tiring after a while.

The suspension is sport-tuned but still comfortable, although I’d like to get a little more steering feel from the wheel.

It runs on regular-grade gasoline, and I averaged 8.7 L/100 km in my week with it.

Not everyone will need the turbo’s power, so the 2.0-litre should be enough for many drivers, and at a lower price. Be sure to test drive both if the Forte5 is on your list.

Market position

Although it shares platforms and engineering with parent company Hyundai, Kia is becoming more of a performance brand, adding turbo power to some of its models, along with new styling under the direction of former Audi designer Peter Schreyer.

Points

• The Forte has three configurations: the four-door Forte sedan, the Forte5 hatchback, and the two-door Forte Koup.

• You get a lot of features in the SX model, but there’s a lot of hard plastic, so it doesn’t always look as high-end as you’d expect.

• Kia’s warranty covers almost everything for five years or 100,000 km.

Interesting features

Heated front seats, wiper de-icer, cruise control, and Bluetooth on all models; available navigation, backup camera, heated rear seats, HID headlights, leather seats, and heated steering wheel.

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