Kia plans sporty, turbocharged Forte hatch
Kia is adding a 201-hp turbocharged engine in a new high-line trim to the five-door hatchback variant of its redesigned Forte compact.
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Kia will add a 201-hp turbocharged engine in a new high-line trim to the five-door variant of its redesigned Forte compact when the hatchback arrives stateside in the third quarter.
The Forte five-door’s debut will follow the March sales launch of Kia’s redesigned compact sedan. The hatchback will be sold in mid-grade EX trim as well as the new highline SX trim in the Forte lineup. The sedan can be equipped in EX and entry-level LX trims.
Kia revealed the Forte five-door at the Chicago auto show today.
“The combination of a useful hatchback for carrying cargo and the sportiness of the turbocharged SX trim make the all-new Forte 5-door a dual threat in the segment,” Michael Sprague, Kia’s executive vice president of marketing, said in a statement .
With the Forte SX, Kia is aiming for a sporty compact in a vein similar to hot hatches such as the Ford Focus ST, Mazdaspeed3 and the segment’s poster child, the Volkswagen GTI.
The Forte SX will be powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 201 hp and 195 pounds-feet of torque. That puts the sporty Forte roughly on par with the four-door GTI’s 200 hp generated by its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, but far below the Focus ST’s 253 hp and the Mazdaspeed3’s 263 hp.
Standard equipment on the Forte five door in SX trim includes 18-inch alloy wheels, manual six-speed transmission, chrome exhaust tips, sporty front fascia, bigger front brakes and carbon fiber-style trim on the front seats and lower front fascia.
The mid-grade Forte EX five comes standard with a 2.0-liter direct injection engine creating 173 hp and 154 lbs.-ft. of torque, teamed with a standard six-speed automatic transmission.
The EX rides on 16-inch alloy wheels. A rear backup camera, touch screen display, Bluetooth, satellite radio and Kia’s UVO eServices telematics system are standard.
Kia is relaunching the Forte nameplate, starting with the sedan this spring, after the compact’s initial debut in 2009 was largely scrapped because of the U.S. government’s cash for clunkers program. Kia’s initial marketing budget for the Forte was redirected to promote wider brand sales under the cash for clunkers program.Huh?
Still, the Forte has proved to be more than a bit player in Kia’s U.S. lineup, contributing 75,681 units -- or 14 percent -- of Kia’s 557,599 sales last year. That’s enough to make the Forte Kia’s fourth-best seller in the U.S. market.
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