Friday, November 22, 2019

Should You Buy a 2020 Kia Forte GT?

The new Kia Forte sedan and Forte5 will be available with a GT trim that is quite worthy of its name.

My father, who was 17 in the mid-60s, often refers to those days as the best of then-affordable performance cars. While no one will disagree that the 50s and 60s were some of the good ’ol car days, we’re living some of the best ones ourselves at the moment.

Indeed, cars like the Honda Civic Type R, VW Golf GTI and R, Hyundai Veloster N and other like-minded compact sports cars represent some of the least expensive ways to have fun on the way to the office or at a weekend track event with one car.

Kia is joining the pack however with a little more restraint. The new GT trims bring a dose of sportiness and handling to the mix however in a very Kia way.

Are you considering a small car but also want a little more proverbial bang-for-your-buck? Can a 2020 Kia Forte GT deliver? Come with me.

2020 Kia Forte GT And Kia Forte5 First Drive Review: Keeping It Real In The Compact Segment

Why you should buy a 2020 Kia Forte GT

2020 Kia Forte | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

  1. The 2020 Forte5 GT starts at $27,395 with the dual-clutch transmission, undercutting the Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line by $1,300 for essentially the same car. It’s much less expensive than its other rivals like the GTI and Si as well.
  2. Both Forte GTs out-kit its closest competitors from Volkswagen, Honda and Subaru.
  3. The turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine generates 201 fun horsepower and a healthy 195 lb.-ft. of torque. The car is quick!
  4. The 7-speed dual-clutch (7DCT) transmission is just as comfortable with cruising around as it is shuffling through its gears under hard driving – it never misses a beat.
  5. Steering is heavy and responsive – there’s a noticeable sense of sportiness in the drive.
  6. The revised sport-tuned suspension reveals its skills when pushed hard. This is a very competent driver’s car. You’ll be surprised as well should you test-drive one.
  7. The included physical upgrades are tasteful and subtle. The gloss-black accents and red-trimmed black front grille are just enough to make the GTs stand-out from the Forte lineup. 

Why you should not buy a 2020 Kia Forte GT

2020 Kia Forte GT | Photo: Kia

  1. In a strange twist, the Forte5 hatchback doesn’t look quite right. The Forte sedan shows better.
  2. When not driven hard, the tuned suspension displays an insufficient amount of damping. Its overall refinement and daily-drivability suffer.
  3. Although quick, it doesn’t quite have the VW Jetta GLI’s, Golf GTI’s or Civic Si’s punch.
  4. The manual transmission is not (yet?) available in Canada. Despite the 7DCT’s abilities, a 6-speed manual gearbox is a must.
  5. Despite the content, a Kia Forte GT, regardless of body style, does not (may never) earn a GTI’s or Si’s level of street-cred.

Conclusion

2020 Kia Forte GT | Photo: Kia

Kia figures there will be a near 50-50 split between the Forte5 GT and the Forte GT. In direct conflict with the latter is the new Volkswagen Jetta GLI, which I just drove. There’s exactly $4,100 (with DSG – $33,095 vs. $28,995) separating both cars and the amount is justified by a more powerful engine, VW’s Dynamic Chassis Control with adjustable dampers, the digital cluster and its more refined and sophisticated driving behaviour.

While I’ve not driven the Forte5 GT, its story is a little different compared to the VW Golf GTI. The GTI retails for $4,850 (with DSG – $32,245 vs. $27,395) more than the GT however it does not include the dampers, the cluster and is shod with 17-inch wheels and not 18s. It is more powerful and more civilized. The question here is what’s more important: A GTI? Or is it about content?

Finally, the new 2020 Kia Forte GT and Forte5 GT are appealing compact sporty cars. The lower price points reflect their position in the in the niche segment but doesn’t take anything away from them but does not do them any real favours either.


2020 Kia Forte GT Photo Gallery

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,400 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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