Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kia Forte Koup ite two-door coupe

Kia Forte Koup ite two-door coupe 2012 - 2012 Kia Forte Koup a great two-door car except for its bizarre spelling of coupe. The brand-new Kia Forte Koup is Kia's first two-door auto and a sibling to the new Forte sedan. The 2012 Kia Forte Koup is going to become the go-to car for the tuner crowd who like to add lots of power to small, import coupes. Expect it to challenge the Subaru WRX and similar cars among the urban street racing crowd. It’s a hot little number that turns heads and can provide a thrilling ride. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it racing down around Brainard Airport in Hartford once spring hits (not that I advocate street racing).

First introduced at the New York Auto Show last year, the Koup (and I have no idea why Kia spells coupe that way) is a two-door coupe with bold styling and a lot of zip under the hood from a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, producing 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque that features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and multi-port electronic fuel injection, both of which allow for greater performance and fuel economy.

The SX model was loaned to me for a week by Kia. It features an upgraded 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, also with CVVT, that produces 173 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque, which is more than the Scion tC as Kia pointed out in the Koup’s introductory press release. Note to Kia: in the future don’t compare yourself to Scion. Your Koup is a much better looking vehicle with a much brighter future.

The 2.4-liter engine is only going to be liked by a certain class of driver. It delivers a lot of torque in first gear. I humbly admit to stalling the six-speed manual model I was driving on two occasions (once with a CT Transit bus right behind me opposite Bushnell Park – yes that was me driving the racing red Koup for all the bus passengers who probably had a laugh at my expense). Younger drivers are going to like that boost of power when the light turns red. I learned to like it when I got my clutch and gas pedal more in sync.

This is also going to be a tough car for people with young children still in car seats. As Kia points out, with a wheelbase of 104.3 inches, an overall length of 176.4 inches, an overall width of 69.5 inches and overall height of 55.1 inches, the Forte Koup body is 2.4 inches lower, 2.0 inches shorter and 0.4 inches narrower than its sedan sibling, but with the same wheelbase as the sedan Koup provides comfortable seating for up to five passengers. All that space moves the rear seats seat back further, which made it hard to install a car seat – something I end up doing five times a week or more.

Otherwise, everything else is just right about this car. The Forte Koup is light years away from any perceptions you had about small cars from Kia. It’s a legitimate head turner. It’s the first Kia I have driven where casual passersby engaged me in conversation. (There’s something about the 7-Eleven at Park and Prospect in Hartford that makes me want to talk cars – even the clerks mention what I’m driving).

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