2014 Kia Forte Koup Turbo

2014 Kia Forte Koup Turbo 2014 Kia Forte Koup Turbo
First Drive Review

The Koup is the third debutante in Kia’s redesigned 2014 Forte lineup, rolling out on the heels of the four-door sedan and five-door hatch. Even though its clean styling is contemporary in the vein of the Honda Civic coupe and Scion tC with which it competes, the second-gen two-door Forte nevertheless strikes a more conservative pose than does, say, the hipster-baiting Veloster from sister company Hyundai.

The new car shares only its hood and front fenders with its siblings and is longer, wider, and taller than the last Forte Koup, adding more interior space including, critically, two more inches of rear legroom. Further helping practicality on this less-practical body style is a larger trunk with a wider opening than on the last car. A larger vessel usually means a swollen curb weight, but Kia has infused the Koup with more high-strength steel, which can often mitigate such a gain. We’ll know if that’s the case once we get an example on our scales.

The redesign brings with it a pair of new direct-injected engines. In the base Koup EX, a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four makes the same 173 horsepower as did last year’s 2.4-liter. Our recent drive was limited to the turbocharged Koup SX, which wedges itself into the sports-compact conversation with a 201-hp, 1.6-liter turbo four, an engine it shares with the Veloster Turbo and Kia’s own Forte5 SX hatchback. Minutiae junkies take note: This is the first force-fed two-door Kia ever.

As do most modern gas turbos, the Koup SX’s Gamma four serves up its torque on a nice wide platter, churning out 195 lb-ft from 1750 to 4500 rpm. Continuously variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust sides adds even more flexibility to an engine that’s not particularly fussy about what gear you’re in. Take the SX as it comes, and you’ll row a six-speed manual; you’ll need to tick a box and pony up something like a grand for a six-speed automatic. The former has a numb clutch pedal and a so-so shift feel; gearchanges from the automatic are smooth enough if not particularly hasty. The auto also offers manual control via generously sized steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters or the shift lever.

Blown, but Not Wasted

Kia says the turbocharged SX has its own special exhaust note, but the noises from the dual outlets are pretty tame by sporty coupe standards. For better or worse, unlike the Focus ST and VW GTI, the Forte doesn’t artificially enhance intake sound, either.