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Is Kia Gunning For The Volkswagen Golf GTI?

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A Korean hot hatch could be imminent.

Recent news from Kia has been all about an upcoming crossover called the Seltos, which has already been leaked in full and will sit above the Soul in Kia's lineup. With the Seltos set to be the sixth crossover in Kia's lineup, we thought the Korean automaker had completely abandoned its plans to introduce a sportier hatchback version of the Forte.

We've already seen what that car could look like in other markets, where it is badged as either the Ceed GT or K3 GT, though Kia's US offices have been mum on whether it will come to the US. But now, Kia has submitted an executive order with the California Air Recourses Board for a new Forte5, the same name Kia previously used on the US market Forte hatchback.

The order specifies a 2020 model-year Forte sedan and Forte5 with a new engine option that comes either with or without smart cruise control (SCC). Currently, the 2019 Forte is only available with a single engine, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 147 horsepower that goes to the wheels through a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission. The cars listed on the CARB order specify a 1.6-liter engine - the turbocharged unit used in the Soul - which will produce 201 hp.

We can assume the document is meant to certify the upcoming Forte GT, which was revealed at last year's SEMA show, for California emissions. All of the cars on the document are listed as having a seven-speed automatic (Kia's DCT) but the sedan without smart cruise control can also be optioned with a six-speed manual.

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This is bad news for hot hatchback fans out there because the upcoming Forte5 GT will only be available with an automatic. You'll have to get the sedan and sacrifice adaptive cruise control if you'd like to row your own gears. It would be nice if the hatchback came with a manual, but at the very least it's nice to hear that a more powerful Forte is coming to the US at all. Kia hasn't announced pricing for the Forte GT yet but we know it will come with 18-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, LED headlights, more aggressive accents, and a sportier interior. Expect the Forte GT to arrive later in 2019.

UPDATE: Kia has responded on Twitter regarding the Forte5 GT saying, "Thank you for your inquiry! At this time there are no plans for production on the hot hatch version." This may seem like a confirmation that the US won't actually receive the Forte5 but there's always a possibility that Kia isn't telling the full truth.