2010 Kia Forte Koup SX Road Test Review

Alexandra Straub - CAP staff
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I know I have a cool car when people on the street stop and stare while I parallel park. Then they hang around long enough to ask me questions about it as I feed the meter. That hasn't happened to me in quite some time and doesn't usually happen with cars under $50K. But leave it up to the all-new 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX to turn heads. If it isn't the two-tone 17" alloy wheels or the Electric Blue metallic body colour that makes the masses stare, it's definitely the aggressive styling and predominantly high cool-factor that this little Kia has. A job well done.

The appeal of the Forte Koup doesn't just stop with its chiseled physique. It extends throughout the cabin as well. Inside my top-line SX are leather-trimmed surfaces that look and feel great, sport seats that hug the contours of me and my passenger's bodies, and a wonderfully crafted, easy-to-use cockpit. I'm also a fan of the various tones and textures of black mixed with red and white gauges. It gives this funky, but not overdone interior an edge that the Koup's competition doesn't have. Another job well done.

Whether a smaller or larger displacement engine is your preference, the Koup can satiate your need, or lack thereof, for speed. Found under the hood of the SX model is a 16-valve, DOHC, 2.4L inline-four with dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) technology that's capable of churning out 173hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. This engine, combined with the optional 5-speed automatic transmission, makes for one peppy car. I didn't feel the SX was ever underpowered or lacked in personality. It made my time behind the wheel very enjoyable.

The car wasn't just enjoyed by me, but by my passengers too. Generally, two-door coupes have what I call "token seats." Most of the time I use the rear seats in a 2+2 as glorified grocery holders or a place to put my purse, since adults rarely fit with any reasonable comfort. Not with this Kia. My brother-in-law, who measures in at over six-feet, had no problems sitting behind my six-foot-three husband while we ran around town. His head didn't even touch the roof and he had enough legroom to make the trip manageable. Getting in and out of the back is another story, however. To be fair I don't think I've come across a coupe that has easily accessible rear seats. Granted, the door of the Koup opens widely and the seat goes quite far forward, but it's just an awkward motion crouching and bending down to get in the back.

As I went about my daily activities, I thoroughly enjoyed the sport-tuned suspension that comes with the SX trim. It had just the right amount of stiffness to give it that sporty flare, but enough everyday-driving comfort to keep me from feeling the pavement's imperfections. I also felt that such standard safety equipment like 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, a Traction Control System (TCS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) made the experience even better. And did I mention that these are standard features on both the base EX and top-of-the-line SX trims? Well, they are and yes, you can be impressed!

What also comes standard on both trims are power door locks, keyless entry, steering wheel mounted audio controls and cruise control, heated seats, voice-activated Bluetooth, and much more. Again, you can be impressed.

When asked what kind of price tag is associated with such an impressive car, people were baffled that this two-door was less than $25K even with the optional 5-speed automatic transmission. It was quite neat to see the reaction when they said, "That's it?! Wow!" The base EX trim comes in at $19,950 and the SX isn't unreasonably more. With the optional auto tranny, the MSRP is $24,225 (…it's $23,025 for the same car with the 6-speed manual).

The only faults I can really comment on included the stiffness of the leather-wrapped steering wheel, and that the power-assisted, rack-and-pinion steering was a little too rigid for my taste. Granted, that's really what it is supposed to feel like especially in a sports coupe. Could I deal with it on an everyday basis? Most probably. But I would need more time to warm up to it as it felt rather laborious to back up and parallel park. Then again with parking in mind visibility out the rear was half decent.

I must admit that I really hope to see the 2010 Kia Forte Koup all over the streets. Why? Because it looks great, of course, plus it's a great little sports coupe. For those who are somewhat weary about the Kia name, don't be. Product quality has vastly improved. Just getting behind the wheel at a test drive will prove my point. It's just like my husband says, "You're right, honey. You're always right." Yes I am, or at least I like to think I am!

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Kia, 2010, Forte, Koup, $10,000 - $19,999, $20,000 - $29,999,

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