The ongoing Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, as the name suggests, is all about tuners and accessory makers showing their latest and greatest wares, usually on highly modified vehicles so outlandish you’ll need a pair of sunglasses just to look at all the bling without blinding yourself.

This time, however, Kia has turned up with its own souped-up machine that anyone, or at least those in the United States, can go to a showroom and buy – the Cerato GT. Having already gone on sale in South Korea – where it is badged the K3 GT – the hot sedan now makes its North American debut as the Forte GT, and comes with the same performance-oriented tweaks.

Front and centre is the 1.6 litre Gamma turbocharged and direct-injected (T-GDI) four-cylinder petrol engine making an estimated 201 hp and 264 Nm of torque, and while the Korean version is only available with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, here there’s a six-speed manual option as well.

The suspension has been revised as well – whereas the standard Cerato only gets torsion beam suspension at the rear, the GT gets independent multilinks which, together with the larger anti-roll bars, deliver better handling, ride comfort, stability and steering. There are also larger front brakes to quell the increased horsepower, along with 18-inch multi-spoke alloys wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber.

Matching the performance enhancements are raft of visual add-ons, including a more aggressive front bumper, a gloss black mesh grille with red inserts, black door mirrors, deeper side sills, a rear spoiler and a sporty dual exhaust system. Inside, there are sports seats upholstered in black fabric with red stitching, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, alloy pedals and LED ambient lighting.

Available in GT, GT1 and GT2 trim levels, the GT comes as standard with LED headlights, keyless entry and push-button start, while the GT1 throws in a sunroof, dual-zone auto climate control, Qi wireless smartphone charging, a 4.2-inch centre LCD display and an eight-speaker, 320-watt Harman Kardon sound system. The GT2 model adds heated and ventilated Sofino GT seats with 10-way power adjustment for the driver.

Safety-wise, all variants come with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist-Line (LKA-Line) and Driver Attention Warning (DAW). The GT1, meanwhile, gets Blind Spot Collision Warning (BCW) with Lane Change Assist (LCA) and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW), while the GT2 is offered with Smart Cruise Control (SCC).

Kia has also confirmed the existence of the GT Line variant, which comes with most of the exterior and interior accoutrements but retains the 147 hp 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated engine and Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) CVT of the standard Cerato.