First off, although many journalists choose to harp on Kia’s odd spelling of “Koup,” I will not be partaking in such wanton silliness. To my way of thinking, when a car company continuously keeps rolling out breathtaking new models (Soul, Forte, 2011 Sportage, 2011 Sorento, 2011 Optima) then they can spell coupe like “chicken coop” for all I care. Just bring on the awesome.
But with Kia models you get even more than style nowadays. You still get a bargain price, that generous 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, low running costs and excellent build quality. You don’t have to apologize any more for buying a Kia. In fact, if you do buy one you should feel good about making such a wise new car purchase.
But what about the 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX? We all know it is stylish inside and out but how does it drive? Do the dynamics live up to the rest of the package or is Kia not quite up to the levels of, say, Honda in that regard? Well, read on to find out.
Yet another design home run from the guys at Kia Motor Company. While few give Kia credit for this, I personally can’t think of any other car maker recently that has rolled out so many home run designs in a row. Usually a car company will mix it up with a stylistic duffer or two. Or at least one that is ho-hum boring. Quit it Kia, you are making everyone else look bad!
The 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX has a very masculine, squared off rear window line and crisply angular tail lamps. Don’t even get me started on the front end which looks like it intends to do physical harm to other, less potently styled sport coupes.
My take is that while the current Honda Civic is sleek and somewhat feminine, the 2010 Kia Forte SX takes a different tack by bringing on an air of aggressive machismo. Also, the blacked out 17-inch alloy wheels that are standard with SX models don’t hurt the menace factor one bit either. Well played Kia, well played.
Interior Styling and Build Quality
This is another area in which Kia has been excelling of late. Right in front of the driver are three large, circular gauge pods with the tachometer, speedometer and a huge fuel gauge. The center stack is delightful in its simplicity with three large knobs controlling the air conditioning/heater while there is an easy to use (and read) stereo head piece located right above it.
The dashboard is covered in sturdy feeling, semi-soft touch plastic (what do you want for $17,695, a miracle?) while the knobs for the stereo and air conditioning are topped with chrome rings. The Forte Koup SX’s dash differs from lesser Forte models as it also features expensive looking piano black trim and some metal effect trim around the center console.
The inner door handles have a hefty metallic weight to them and the handsomely styled steering wheel feels great in your hands. The wheel also features clearly marked and simple to use stereo/cruise/Bluetooth secondary controls. Why is this so easy for Kia and so hard for BMW and Mini?
Surprisingly, my $700 sunroof equipped test Forte Koup SX still afforded me plenty of headroom and I am 6-feet tall. The roof is much nearer to my noggin in sunroof equipped Civic coupe models. So I say go for the sunroof since it is affordable, doesn’t eat into the headroom and because a coupe (or Koup) just isn’t as much fun without one.
My only niggle was with the rather unnecessary $1,000 leather trim on my test model (this package also comes with heated seats) as it felt slippery when it was cold and was scalding hot when I sat on it after some recent hot summer days. I say go for the standard cloth seats.
Overall, this is a very comfortable, well built and stylish interior that should have no trouble keeping you happy over a possible 10 year life together. While that may not sound like something that is difficult to accomplish, it is surprising how few cars get their interior design and ergonomics as right as Kia did with the 2010 Forte Koup SX.
Price, Features and Fuel Economy
The 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX has a base price of $17,695 and comes standard with air conditioning, power everything, AM/FM CD audio with 6-speakers, USB/iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, cruise control, steering wheel mounted secondary controls, Sirius, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, sport seats, fog lights, a rear diffuser and those stylish 17-inch alloy wheels.
I’d just like to single out Kia for praise as it has seen fit to equip all of its Forte models with an audio system that for offers terrifically clear sound quality and that Bluetooth and USB/iPod connectivity are also standard. To my way of thinking Bluetooth and USB/iPod connectivity serve the function of keeping the driver’s eyes on the road so they shouldn’t be luxurious extras. Are you hearing me Mercedes and BMW?
Affording drivers exceptional fuel economy is something that also proves to be this Koup’s forte. I said I wouldn’t comment on the spelling of “Koup” but I never said anything about the use of bad puns. EPA estimates with the six speed manual are 22 city/32 highway. During its week with me it returned 25.2 miles per gallon.
First off let’s talk about the good news. The Forte Koup SX has the best steering rack I have ever tested in a Korean automobile as it offers plenty of feel but doesn’t confuse heaviness for sportiness. The suspension is also nicely tied down without being jittery over rough pavement. On that count, the Forte Koup SX is just as well qualified as a commuter as a weekend toy.
But there is one problem with the user friendliness of the 6-speed manual equipped Kia Forte Koup SX. While the shift action is precise, the clutch on my test model had a very harsh and difficult to judge engagement point which resulted in embarrassing Kangaroo hopping at parking lot speeds. A passenger even asked me if I knew how to drive a stick shift. (Note: I do know how to use a manual transmission.)
Beyond even the public embarrassment factor, it also made me not want to drive the car which is a shame since the growl of the 2.4 liter 173 horsepower/168 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder is potent and intoxicating. While this may have just been a fault with the clutch on my test vehicle, you might want to option up your 2010 Forte Koup SX with Kia’s excellent 5-speed automatic.
How Dog and Kid Friendly is It?
Dogs, kids and coupes generally don’t go together. If you have car seats you really don’t want to have to keep shoehorning your offspring into the admittedly spacious rear seating area in the Forte Koup. I also don’t know many dogs who would appreciate being pushed into the back much either. The lack of a rear door also makes it very difficult to attach a safety harness for your dog to one of the rear seat belts.
But do remember that the Forte Koup SX has very sturdy feeling plastics and trim so kids and dogs would not destroy it. I just might recommend that a Forte SX sedan might be more appropriate for kid and dog hauling duties.
The 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX is a handsomely styled, comfortable, efficient and affordable car that is unfortunately let down by its standard six-speed manual transmission. As such, I would recommend buying your 2010 Forte Koup SX with the optional 5-speed automatic transmission. Do note that for the 2011 model year all Forte models get a newly optional six-speed automatic.
So while the Forte Koup SX may not yet be a rival for the Honda Civic Si, do remember that the Si is also priced well over $22,000. When you look at the $17,695 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX on a bang for your buck basis, it’s easy to see that it really can’t be beat.
Vehicle Tested: 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX
Base Price: $17,695
Price as Tested: $19,395 (including destination)
Options on Tester: SX Leather Package-($1,000: includes leather seat upholstery and heated front seats), power sunroof-$700
Engine: 2.4 liter 4-cylinder
Power: 173 horsepower/168 lb. feet of torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual
0-60: 7.0 seconds (estimated)
EPA Fuel Economy: 22 city/32 highway
Economy as tested: 25.7 miles per gallon
Fuel Tank: 13.7 gallons
Maintenance Costs over 5 Years: $4,339 (estimate by Edmunds.com)
Trunk Size: 12.6 cubic feet
Crash Test Ratings: “Top Safety Pick” Ranking by IIHS
Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles bumper to bumper
10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty
Vehicle Assembly Location: South Korea
Vehicle Provided by: Kia Motors America