Cars > Peek

The Kia Forte sedan wants your serious attention now

The all-new version might do better in our market

The signature tiger-nose grille is now narrower. PHOTO FROM KIA

The Kia Forte compact sedan is probably one of the most underrated cars to ever be sold in our market. It just never really took off in spite of a stylish exterior (particularly the second-generation model) and a decent set of features. In late 2015, Kia Philippines even tried offering a P60,000 discount on all Forte versions—sedan, hatchback and coupe—just to get car shoppers to take notice.

The Forte, presumably due to its underwhelming sales performance, was eventually pulled out of the local distributor’s product lineup. But things may change for the better with the arrival of the third-generation Forte, officially presented at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.

Kia claims to have copied from the Stinger template. PHOTOS FROM KIA

There are obvious links between this “all-new” model and the one it is replacing, especially at the front. But Kia claims this latest Forte takes styling inspiration from the Stinger liftback, as seen in the headlights and the narrower tiger-nose grille.

According to the Korean automaker, the Forte has grown by 3.2 inches in length, 0.7 inch in width and almost 0.5 inch in height. That kind of growth may not be instantly noticeable from the outside, but Kia says passengers will appreciate the improved cabin space and comfort.

The new Forte is 3.2 inches longer than the outgoing model. PHOTOS FROM KIA

Working under the new Forte’s hood is a second-generation 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder engine rated at 147hp and 179Nm, which supposedly averages around 15km/L. But the biggest drivetrain news here is Kia’s so-called Intelligent Variable Transmission, the company’s first in-house CVT. This gearbox is said to have addressed the common issues that plague conventional CVTs, including noise and the “rubber-band-like feel.”

The second-generation 2.0-liter Nu gasoline engine pumps out 147hp and 179Nm. PHOTO FROM KIA

Inside, the new Forte boasts an eight-inch touchscreen display that is integrated with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There is also an available 320W audio setup developed with Harman Kardon—all the better to entertain you while you’re stuck on EDSA.

Like any modern automobile, the Forte now comes with high-tech driver assistance systems, including blind spot collision warning, lane-keeping assist, forward collision avoidance assist, and smart cruise control.

Kia may have to spruce this up with more accessories in order for the Forte to keep up with the Honda Civic and the Mazda 3. PHOTOS FROM KIA

With the reported takeover of the local Kia distributorship by Ayala Corporation, we have no idea if and when this upgraded Forte might reach our shores. It would be a welcome addition to the brand’s Philippine stable if specced and marketed properly. We should be able to find out in the coming months.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 26 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.