Like the recent slew of Kia offerings, the 1.6-litre Forte K3 is a slick model with harmonious proportions
A pretty good Korean model - PHOTO: KIA

IF K-Pop ever requires a poster car, something as cute and pretty as the archetypal Korean boy band or girl group, it would have to be the Kia Forte K3. Like the recent slew of Kia offerings, the 1.6-litre Forte K3 is a slick model with harmonious proportions. Its profile is perfectly balanced and the rear three-quarter view is almost sensuous when seen from a high angle. This compact sedan is so well-styled and anyone who finds fault with its shape and size is probably a competitor.

But more impressive than the styling is its level of equipment.

The Kia Forte K3 replaces the Kia Cerato Forte, which was already a good-looking car with a long list of features not found in this segment, such as auto wipers and headlights.

For this all-new Forte, however, that list has grown a lot longer - a 10-way powered and ventilated driver's seat with two memory settings; keyless entry with engine start button; Smart Welcome Light system that turns on the cabin light, puddle lamp and door handle "pocket" light when the driver approaches the car, plus Headlamp Delay to illuminate the path ahead; centre touchscreen; and three-mode FlexSteer power-adjustable steering. But perhaps the knock-out feature has to be Seat Easy Access, which automatically slides the driver's seat backwards for easier egress and ingress. Until now, this item was found only in luxury limousines, not a mainstream compact sedan. Such user convenience extends to the one-touch turn signal, which can even be set to blink three, five or seven times!

Incidentally, the indicator stalk is now on the left because the K3 that comes to Singapore has European market specifications.

The car itself is longer and wider than its predecessor with a bigger cabin.

The new Forte K3's overall length of 4.56 metres is 30 mm longer, and its 2,700 mm wheelbase has been extended by 50 mm to enhance rear legroom. The cabin floor and seats have also been lowered for improved headroom and the front seat cushions are wider with greater thigh support. But if you're a six-footer, the front seats will still feel small and will give the impression that you're sitting on them and not in them.

Under the hood, the upgraded 1,600 cc, four-cylinder engine drives the front wheels with 5 per cent more power. As with its predecessor, it is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

The gearbox is remarkably responsive, with manual changes banging home immediately. There is nothing more irritating than a reluctant transmission when you want to drive sportily.

But the obedient box and firm suspension allow you to do just that. Fast corners are even fun, with the Kia's rear torsion beam suspension giving the K3 rather good control and confidence.

Only the steering feels wooden in Sport mode (Comfort seems to have the best feel, actually), while the engine gets a bit boomy under hard acceleration. But otherwise, the K3 is a surprisingly driveable sedan with relatively enthusiastic performance and a comfortably pliant ride. This compact Kia is pretty good. Literally.


CAR INFORMATION

Kia Forte K3 1.6 SX (A)

Price

:$104,999

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line DOHC Dual CVVT

Engine Cap

:

1,591 cc

Horsepower

:

127 bhp / 6,300 rpm

Torque

:

157 Nm / 4,850 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

11.6 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

195 km/h

 
Kia Forte K3 1.6 EX (A)

Price

:$97,999

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line DOHC Dual CVVT

Engine Cap

:

1,591 cc

Horsepower

:

127 bhp / 6,300 rpm

Torque

:

157 Nm / 4,850 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

11.6 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

195 km/h