Sportier Kia Forte Hot Hatch "Likely," Kia Tells Us

Scoop

Although it could arrive as a "little Stinger" sedan instead.

We recently attended the launch event for the all-new Kia Forte, where we came away deeply impressed with how the car drove and its immense value-for-money. Once all of the journalists at the event agreed that the Forte was pretty darn good, the conversation quickly turned to how Kia could make a sportier hatchback version to replace the Forte5 SX.

In our conversations with Forte product manager Derrick Ty, we got the distinct impression that a more powerful model was on its way.

We recently received a sneak peak at what this sporty Forte hatchback could look like with the reveal of the European market Ceed GT, but now Hyundai Motor Group Journal has revealed the K3 GT, a Korean market version of the Forte that could likely end up as the new Forte5.

Though the Ceed GT does bear similarities to the US market Forte, it sits on a different platform. The K3, on the other hand, is nearly identical, providing a better idea of what a Forte5 could look like. We only have a pair of exterior photos to go on, but the interior looks exactly like the new Forte, albeit with a sportier flavor.

HMG Journal says the K3 "was nicknamed 'Little Stinger,' so expectations for a high-performance model were higher than any other car. Kia Motors released the high-performance version of the K3 and named it 'GT'. The name, derived from the Italian 'Gran Turismo' (Grand Tourer), means a car that can travel at high speeds comfortably over long distances. It is a model that adds comfort and practicality to the running sensibility of a so-called sports car."

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Right away, we can see some clear changes from the base car that give the GT more of a sporty feel. The front features a dark grille with red accents, while the side profile is more aggressive with 18-inch wheels with a red center cap. Inside, the sporty theme continues with sporty accents like a flat-bottom steering wheel, bolstered sports seats, red accents, GT logos, and mood lighting.

As expected, under the hood sits a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch (no manual option was mentioned). It produces 201 horsepower, the same as the new Hyundai Veloster Turbo and upcoming Elantra Sport, which use the same engine.

We reached out to Kia to see if/when we will see a US version, and Corporate Communications Director James Bell told us the company is "still looking through permutations and trim levels" to decide what will be best for the US market.

The hatchback market "it isn't where the heat is," Bell said referencing hot-selling crossovers. So, "I don't even know if we are doing the five-door" he added.

Based on our conversations with Kia, the company wants to be seen as the "younger, more well-dressed sibling to Hyundai." Hyundai has already announced plans for the next generation Elantra Sport, so a sportier Forte is almost inevitable.

There have been "so many conversations inside the company about a sedan or a hatchback," Bell said. "Sales of the Forte5 were not super strong," so the hot Forte may end up being a sedan instead of a hatchback in the US market.

No matter which bodystyle ends up being chosen, Bell said "the odds are likely" that the US will get a faster Forte in the near future.

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