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Published on April 12th, 2010 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Kia Forte test drive review

The Kia Forte is a premium midsized family/executive car that drives much like a European car costing twice its price. The best part is its showroom appeal which leans towards the Audi A4 in its exterior delivery. It is attractive from all angles and it is hard to find anyone say a negative thing about its looks. The Forte may be a replacement for the ageing Spectra but there is zero relationship as it is an all new design engineered from the ground up midway through 2008. It is fresh to the market and a breath of fresh air to the segment.

We find its styling more pleasant than exciting. If you like the idea of a solid four-door and are ready to try some European flavor, the Forte is the best deal in town, a combination of price and German character that’s made it a hot seller in every market that it has been introduced. Looking at the Forte, the eye is immediately drawn to its big, chrome-framed front grille.

The next most striking design element is the aggressive thrust and slope of the hood and snout. Big tail light clusters, divided between the trunk and rear fender, help widen the proportion of the car’s hindquarters in relation to its height, giving it a more substantial, less boxy-looking ass.

Inside, the Forte is roomy and nicely finished, benefitting from Kia’s attention to detail in recent years. The driver enjoys excellent visibility and ease of operation, with logical controls and instruments. Finish quality is good, inside and out. The boot is larger than in many sedans costing much more. The warranty is for 2 years and includes all scheduled maintenance. This Forte’s interior should be noted for its quality and value, combining expensive-looking materials with simple, attractive styling and excellent ergonomics. The result tends to be an inviting cabin that is comfortable and pleasant. The contours of the front seats provide a high degree of support. The seats are easy to adjust with manual controls. The sporty thick-rimmed, three-spoke steering wheel frames a gauge cluster dominated by separate, large dials for the tachometer and speedometer, well shaded from
ambient light by a curved cowl.

Safety features that come standard include front airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), brake assist and electronic stability control.

We found the Forte responsive around town and comfortable on long trips. It carves through curves precisely, but rides comfortably. Kia’s powertrain engineers have made recent modifications to reduce vibration and their work has been rewarded with little audible notes from the engine bay and a high speed serene cabin. Handling is rewarding, inspiring confidence on curving kampong roads. The Forte carves through a corner with precision, and body roll is well controlled. It’s more apparent in the base models, but regardless of trim level and suspension tuning the car’s responses are precise and wholly predictable. We think this is one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars Kia has produced.

All this however does not drown the relentless bad musical that is being played by previous KIA owners unhappy with after sales and depreciation. Naza KIA will and need to work really hard to up their after sales and delivery standards to keep the demand momentum up or else they will lose this initial appeal at their showrooms.


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