If you ran an auto company and decided you were going to overhaul your brand’s entire image, going about it like Kia wouldn’t be a bad idea.
While hammering down strong reliability ratings and improving your SUV lineup, you’d drop a respected luxury model (K900) and a halo performance car (Stinger). All the while, you’d keep improving until consumers associated your brand more with Optima, Sorento, and Sedona rather than the Rio at the rental counter.
Kia’s approach worked, and the automaker will continue pushing into the green car space with the Niro Electric in 2019. But more performance models are on the way as well.
At SEMA, the brand unveiled a more powerful version of its all-new Forte for 2020. Here’s a close look at the debut Forte GT.
1. Powertrain and performance specs
In a statement, Kia said it would release two versions of its new Forte: a GT Line trim that consists only of cosmetic upgrades and a GT trim that brings in actual mechanical enhancements. So a Forte GT Line uses the standard 2.0-liter, 147-horsepower four-cylinder engine with variable transmission.
As for the GT, that’s where you’ll find the performance bump. This model gets a 1.6-liter turbo four rated at 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. (A 2018 Forte hatch matched those specs.)
Along with the added power, buyers will get a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed dual-clutch system with paddle shifters at the steering wheel. Independent front and rear suspension, larger disc brakes and sway bars, and the option of Michelin Sport Summer tires serve to improve how this model handles.
2. Forte GT style upgrades
In the lower GT Line trim, the 2020 Forte will feature a gloss-black grille with red accents and GT badge. The gloss black theme continues on the heated mirrors, side sills, and rear spoiler. On the interior, this variant will feature alloy sport pedals, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and black cloth sports seats.
GT models will use the same exterior flourishes and add 18-inch alloy wheels with red accents, dual sport exhaust, and standard LED lights. Inside the cabin, a push-button start and LED ambient lighting are a few upgrades over the GT Line.
3. Convenience and safety tech
These models will get a great deal of safety tech that goes by the name of Kia Drive Wise. Forward-collision warning and assist, lane-departure and lane-keep assist, and driver-attention warning come standard in both trims.
A GT1 package adds on more safety equipment, including blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic collision warning. Meanwhile, the GT2 package tacks on adaptive cruise control as well.
Both packages bring in interior LED lighting, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, wireless charging, 10-way power seats, and other extras.
4. Forte GT release date, pricing speculation
Kia didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel (or bring in a new engine) with the Forte GT, even if it did inch this model closer to the Stinger. Considering the Forte5 hatchback started at $24,000 with the turbo 1.6, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think the automaker would use that as a guide when pricing this model.
Maybe $25,000 is a sensible guess for an MSRP, though the extras listed above could really run up the score on a Forte GT.
As a 2020 model, we likely won’t see it until at least the second half of 2019. We’ll learn the exact figures a bit before that release date.
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