The Kia Forte was never an ugly car, but it needed a redesign to match the company's stylish new lineup, and the competition.
The Kia Forte was never a bad looking car; it just had a lot to live up to. The Forte was launched in 2008, while the Korean brand was making the transition from knockoff to fashion item. Since then, Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer has worked his magic on the Optima, Rio, and others, giving Kia one of the best-looking lineups around. Luckily, the Forte will get a new look for 2014.
The old Forte could easily be confused for a Honda Civic, but the new car has much more sophisticate styling. A large version of Kia’s trademark grille makes it easy to identify the brand. The slash of LEDs across the headlights give the Forte a high-tech, premium feel. The headlights themselves resemble the ones on Kia’s K9/Quoris luxury sedan.
The curvy roofline and cut lines in the doors help make the car seem longer and lower than it actually is. Kia says the 2014 Forte will be longer, lower, and wider than the current car, so the 2014 model should look pretty good in the flesh.
However, the new Forte may have the same problem as its predecessor. If the current Forte looks like a Civic, the 2014 Forte looks like a Ford Fiesta sedan. In profile view, with that Kia grille obscured, resemblance is especially close. The high-mounted ovoid taillights don’t help matters, although they do look good on the Kia.
Since the 2014 Forte won’t go on sale until next year, Kia did not release any powertrain details. The current Forte sedan is sold with two engines: a 2.0-liter inline-four with 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque in top trim, and a 2.4-liter four with a maximum 173 hp and 168 lb-ft. Transmission choices include five- or six-speed manuals and a six-speed automatic.
Kia sells the Forte as a sedan, two-door “Koup,” or five-door hatchback. The company did not say whether the 2014 Forte will be available as a coupe or hatchback.
The 2014 Forte will be sold as the Cerato in international markets, going on sale sometime during the first quarter of 2013. Since only the nameplates will change, expect the U.S.-spec Forte to go on sale around the same time.
Kia has worked hard to shed its bargain-basement image with some very stylish cars. The subcompact Rio and midsize Optima look great, so the company needs is a compact to complete the sedan set. The 2014 Forte will compete against established players like the Civic and Ford Focus, not to mention parent company Hyundai’s rakish Elantra. A dose of extra style is exactly what this Kia needs to stand out in that crowd.