Kia Forte
This colour not available in Malaysia!

UPDATE: Kia Forte 1.6 Test Drive Review

The gorgeous new Kia Forte is now in Malaysia, or at least in the official sense after its launch at the Pavilion KL which will happen later this evening. We’ve already seen the Kia Forte on Malaysian roads as early as May this year when it was spotted in Shah Alam with JPJ plates.

The Forte is pretty much a game changer for Kia, but this ‘renaissance’ did not start with the Forte. Personally for me from a consumer point of view, the first Kia that I had a desire to consider as a daily driver was the Kia Optima. The Optima was just chock full of equipment, including a very nice Infinity surround sound system. It also had a very nice black interior with aluminium trim all over. The Optima’s 2.0 litre engine based on the GEMA platform was nice and spritely, and the car’s road behaviour didn’t fall short either. The only thing that I could complain about was the rather drab exterior looks.

Kia Forte

But the Forte has been the first Kia that had emotional appeal – it has a really good design – something that you would look forward to being parked in your driveway every morning. The Koup is even better. It has such a sporty stance and looks good even in a boring silver colour, as seen in South Korea earlier this year (read my short test drive report).

Three models will be available, the 1.6 EX, the 1.6 SX and the 2.0 SX. The cheapest variant is the EX, priced at RM75,800 OTR, while the SX goes for RM81,800 for the 1.6 litre model and RM93,800 for the 2.0 litre model. Just as a comparison, the i30 goes for a much more expensive price, between RM92,388 for the basic 1.6 manual up to RM112,888 for the 2.0 litre automatic. The Elantra/Avante (which you could consider the Hyundai equivalent to the Forte) goes for RM95,301.80 and that’s without OTR costs. So the Forte has actually got very good competitive pricing. It’s a C-segment sedan (Civic, Lancer, etc) but no doubt alot of people will be cross-shopping between Japanese B-segment cars and the Forte.

Kia Forte

Like its price indicates, the 2.0 SX is the range topping version. The 2.0 litre engine that you get is of the newer GEMA type that’s also found in the Optima. The Mitsubishi Lancer’s 2.0 litre engine is also derived from the GEMA project. Kia calls theirs the Theta engine. It is not the latest version with the 165 PS rating though, due to the fact that the engine is the version with single variable valve timing. The 165 PS engine has dual variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust.

The 2.0 litre engine makes 156 PS at 6,200rpm and 194.2Nm of torque at 4,200rpm. The 1.6 litre engine is from the Gamma family (not to be confused with GEMA) and produces 126 PS at 6,300rpm and 157Nm of torque at 4,200rpm.

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Kia Forte
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The 2.0 is chock full of equipment (you can refer to the full specs table I’ve put above) but let me give you a list in one breath. You get disc brakes all-round, driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags (a total of 6), ABS brakes, a black interior, a metal-look for the dash fascia, a Supervision cluster (Kia’s version of Optitron), leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering, electric power steering (the 1.6 litre models get the hydraulic version), tilt and telescopic steering column adjustment, steering wheel audio, keyless entry and ignition (yes, a start button), full auto climate control air cond, leather seats, active headrests, 17 inch wheels wrapped with 215/45R17 tyres, a 4 sensor reverse sensor with a distance display on the multi-info trip computer display (no need to just listen to the beeps), electrically-adjustable heated wing mirrors, etc.

Even with the 1.6 SX, you still get stability control, although the airbag count has dropped to 2 for the driver and passenger. The baseline 1.6 EX model has steel wheels but it is not extremely ‘baseline’ to the fact that there are no safety features – there is still 2 airbags, and all three models have ABS anti-lock brakes.

The Forte 2.0 SX is the only sedan you can get under RM100,000 with 6 airbags and ESC stability control. It’s price versus equipment value beats even that other C-segment vehicle under the Naza stables, the Peugeot 308, but the 308 has that fantastic BMW-PSA Prince direct injection turbo engine of course.

The Forte will be available in 6 colours – Bright Silver, Metal Bronze, Ebony Black, Titanium Silver, Spicy Red, and Clear White. We will have another report coming later tonight with coverage from the Forte’s launch in Pavilion, so stay tuned.