October 23, 2011

DRIVEN: Kia Forte 1.6SX !

Before the launch of Kia Forte, Kia's brand was not well accepted by many countries around the globe due to its reliability issue. However, the introduction of Kia Forte has changed the perception of how people look at Kia. Kia is no longer the so-called manufacturer that produces below average quality and boring looking car.

Forte is an attractive looking car with its sharp lines all over its body. It proved that Kia's decision to get Peter Scheyer to design the Forte and the rest of Kia's lineup has paid off. Its 'Nike' line which flows from the base of A-pillar to the taillights is one of Forte's signature design features. Forte is the first production model of Kia to have the corporate 'Tiger Nose' grille, and I would say it goes along with the car very well. Even after being around for 2 years, Kia didn't bother to give it a major facelift because it still look contemporary and fresh!



The equipment list for the 1.6SX Forte was impressive, I mean very impressive. For a RM85,800 car, the Forte has some features that even some cars a class above it doesn't have! For a start, keyless entry system, followed by push-start ignition! Then the list continues with auto air-conditioning, reverse camera, Electronic Stability Programme......



The cabin space at the front is very generous and your preferred seating position can be found easily thanks to the adjustable seat height and telescopic tilt steering column. The rear can fit 3 adults, but will only be comfortable for short journey due to the limited headroom and with no shoulder room to spare. While the dashboard has nothing to shout about in terms of design, it is well built and quality is on par with its competitors.

The Forte 1.6SX is powered by a 1.6litre powerplant which is capable of producing 124bhp and 156Nm at 4200rpm, mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The 1.6 DOHC MPI CVVT GAMMA engine was quite refine, producing minimal noise and vibration into the cabin while providing (just) adequate power on the road. Perhaps the 2.0litre Forte will excel in the performance sector. However, I found the engine was vibrating at a slightly higher than normal rate while the gear was in the 'D' position during standstill. Paddle shift on the steering wheel is available for the 1.6SX variant, but there was apparent 'click-clack' sound while operating the paddle shift, kind of like pressing on a plastic bottle.



Travelling with city speed provides a comfortable journey in the car, where the suspension did a good job in absorbing humps and holes of the road. It was stable during cornering thanks to the setup of the front MacPherson Strut and rear Coupled Torsion Beam Axle (CTBA). By the way, the instrument panel was very clear and easy to see, it kind of has a magnifying glass on the numbers and symbols!

The overall driving experience was in between the comfort-biased Toyota Altis and the performance biased Honda Civic. It's a well balanced car between the two. Given its long list of equipment and cheaper price compared to other C-segment cars in Malaysia, I would say it gives a lot of car a run for their money!

+ Equipment, price, good fit and finishing of cabin.
- Paddle shift's sound, engine lacks a bit of punch.

*Follow me @simon_har and subscribe SiMon HaR_ ya ;)

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