Thursday, 14th of November, 2013
Good For: Star of the reasonably priced car. Top Gear used the European version of the Kia Forte, the Cee'd, for their laps aroud their track in the "reasonably priced car". This is spot on, as $15,900 is certainly reasonable compared with all the significantly more expensive popular FWD compact sedans I've driven. Yet in spite of the price, the car is superior to the competition in many other ways. The engine and handling are lively, probably due to the very reasonable curb weight of 2700-2800 pounds. Even the automatic transmission is a 6-speed, doing a great job of highlighting both the drama of high revs and the low-end torque of the 2.0L motor. Bluetooth phone/music and USB input are standard even on the base model.
Compromises: Bluetooth music streaming does not automatically start playing once engaged, and there is no way to start it from the head unit either. This defeats half the purpose of using BT over a cable, since I have to fish my iPhone out of my pocket anyway.
Overall reaction - Thumb up: Kia has succeeded in not only building a reasonably priced car, but a reasonably fun one as well. The one I drove was a first generation model, but the new 2014 Forte continues to offer a 6-speed manual option, albeit with a smaller 1.8L. Kia brought the 5-door version over to the United States as well, though it's a higher, automatic trasmission only trim. Also, this 5-door version has seemed to disappear from the new model lineup. But even the sedan's back seat seems bigger than more expensive competitors like the Mazda 3, making it difficult for me to find any reason at all to buy these other popular FWD sedans over the more reasonable Kia Forte.