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2012 Kia Forte Koup SX Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Kia, Test Drives


The 2011 Kia Forte Koup SX is a seamless blend of world-class design, fun-to-drive performance, fuel efficiency and a long list of standard safety and technology features.

The Forte Koup surrounds the driver and front passenger with the latest in must-have technology with Bluetooth wireless connectivity and steering wheel-mounted controls that enable voice-activated hands-free operation for compatible cell phones.  For listening convenience, USB and auxiliary input jacks offer full iPod and MP3 controllability via the audio head unit or the standard steering wheel-mounted audio controls.  A six-speaker AM-FM-CD/MP3 audio system outfitted with Sirius XM satellite radio capability also comes standard, while speaker lights that can either pulse to the best of the music or simply add mood lighting enhance the personal-lounge feeling of the interior.

Forte Koup’s SX fluid lines and balanced proportions offer a refined and athletic stance with wrap-around headlamps, front lip spoiler, aggressive air intakes, gloss-black front fascia accents at the lower air-intake, foglamps and the signature Kia grille, and a low, sleek profile with swept-back A-pillars, fender stuffing grey-colored 17X7.5 inch alloy wheels wrapped with Goodyear 215/45R17 inch LS performance tires, low side extensions, power heated side mirrors, and chrome pull-out door handles.

Koup offers a muscular yet sophisticated design, and even from the rear, the two-door coupe exudes attitude with slim, LED wrapped taillamps, chrome dual exhaust tips gathered together and a working rear diffuser in a black shroud.  No other compact coupe on the road looks like this sporty model.

Riding on the same 104.3 inch wheelbase as its sedan and hatchback siblings, Forte Koup provides comfortable seating for up to five passengers with an overall length of 176.4 inches, an overall width of 69.5 inches and an overall height of just 55.1 inches, making it 2.4 inches lower, 2 inches shorter and 0.4 inches narrower than the sedan.  With a front lip spoiler, under floor airflow deflectors ahead of all four wheels, an engine bay cover and a lowered stance the Koup cuts through the air with a highly competitive coefficient of drag of just 0.31 and an aerodynamic lift coefficient of just 0.21, enhancing stability and providing a smoother ride at higher speeds.

The two door’s high torsional stiffness gives Forte Koup responsive handling, a smoother ride and improved refinement over the competition.  The Koup SX that I tested is built on a lightweight, steel hydro-formed subframe featuring a sport-tuned front MacPherson independent suspension including coil springs, monotube shocks and a stabilizer bar.  The rear torsion-beam setup includes coil springs, monotube shocks and a stabilizer bar to provide a firmer ride with reduced body roll and improved handling when cornering.

An engine-speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack & pinion steering system and smart front suspension design add the finishing touches to the robust, finely tuned steering and suspension package while providing a highly competitive turning circle of just 33.9 feet.

Additional refinements are utilized throughout the vehicle to help ensure a comfortable ride while significantly reducing noise, vibration and harshness.  Additionally, all-new noise-inhibiting materials are used in the engine bay bulkhead and rear parcel shelf, including the injection of sound-dampening foam into hollow sections of the bodyshell at strategic noise-transference points, as well as improved door and window seals.  The Koup SX is fun and easy to drive whether you are just taking care of personal errands, long strips or when exercising the car on the back roads.

Powering the front wheels on the Koup SX is a 2.4 liter all-aluminum four-cylinder engine with CVVT that pumps out a healthy 173hp at 6,000rpm and 168hp at 4,000rpm.  Two transmissions are available for the Koup, an efficient standard six-speed manual transmission that is silky smooth, or an optional electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting via the stick or through the steering column mounted paddle shifters.  The Koup SX blasts out to 60mph from a standstill in just 7.0 seconds while returning an excellent EPA mileage spec of 23mpg/city and 31mpg/highway.

Big, four-wheel power assisted steel disc brakes help slow the Koup SX down from speed.  Up front are 11.8 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers while 10.3 inch solid discs are clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear.  Keeping you in control during severe braking or when braking on wet or slick pavement are standard ABS, BA, Traction Control and Electronic Stability Control.

Inside, Koup SX provides a spacious 90.7 cu.ft. of interior volume, a surprisingly roomy interior for a two-door coupe.  Driver and front passenger have an impressive 38.7 inches of headroom and 43.6 inches of legroom and 35.3 inches of headroom and 33.9 inches of legroom in the rear seats.  With 12.6 cu.ft. of cargo space daily trips and weekend getaways area breeze.  The 60/40 split folding rear seats that fold nearly flat, extend the available amount of cargo space even further to 53.4 cu.ft.

Standard equipment inside the SX includes supportive, nicely appointed sport bucket seat up front with extra side bolstering and seatback, A/C power windows, door locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted buttons, a driver’s seat height adjuster, adjustable rear seat headrests, a tilt/telescoping leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, rear defroster, center console with dual cupholders and storage area, dual map lights with ceiling-mounted drop-down sunglass holder, variable intermittent wipers/washers, paddle shifters, auto headlamps, red stitching on seats, metal foot pedals, and metallic finish trim on the dashboard, shifter bezel and doors.

The SX gauge cluster is a Supervision style with trip computer, a red-hued glow and message display shown at the bottom of the cluster.  The display includes information such as outside temperature, distance to empty, engine coolant temperature, elapsed time, door-open alert, fuel consumption, average and instantaneous miles-per-gallon readings.

Key options include a leather package for the seats with heated buckets up front, a navigation system, automatic climate control, push button start with smart key and power sunroof.

Forte Koup SX standard safety features include front active headrests, dual advanced front airbags, front seat-mounted and side curtain airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, side impact door beams, front and rear crumple zones, 3-point safety belts for all seating positions with front pretensioners/load limiters, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

The 2012 Kia Forte SX is one of the best compact, two-door coupes on the market with unique good looks, excellent performance, comfortable and roomy interior with the latest in creature comforts, personal infotainment and safety systems.



  • Price: Base Kia Forte Koup SX $18,600
  • Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4 cylinder 173 horsepower @ 6000 rpm / 168 ft-lbs. torque @ 4000 rpm
  • Headroom: f/r-38.7in/35.3in
  • Legroom: f/r-43.6in/33.9in
  • Track: f/r-61.4/61.6in.
  • Ground clearance: 5.5in.
  • EPA mileage est.: 22mpg city / 32mpg highway
  • Fuel tank: 13.7 gallons
  • Turning circle: 35.4 ft.
  • Curb weight: 2,891lbs.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds

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