As the underdog, Kia’s got to (somewhat unfairly as they produce quality vehicles) work harder than the traditional segment leaders (Mazda, Ford, Volkswagen, Honda) to avoid being overlooked. With every vehicle released in the Kia lineup, their presence strengthens and the 2017 Forte 5 hatchback is a prime example.
Appearance wise, there’s a flair of European based design work here giving it smooth design lines coupled with a modern and stylish look. The LED tail lights on my top-trim SX tester, along with HID headlights look smart and the 18” wheels really stand out and frame the car beautifully.
Dual tail pipes, to me, anyway, make a big difference, especially in a top-trim model and the Forte 5 SX looks that much better with them.
Beneath the hood of the SX is where you’ll find a 1.6L turbocharged four cylinder engine churning out 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque through a , 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, proving again that you can do less with more.
All other Forte 5 models get the 2.0L engine, that’s good for 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft. of torque, geared through either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed Sportmatic automatic.
Sadly, there’s no manual option on the SX trim because, well, the manuals are dying a faster-than-I’d-like-to-see death in North America.
With that much power in a small car, a manual option would be nice to have, even if not many would chose it.
Fuel efficiency scores at 9.4 and 7.9 for the L/100 km scale, which is respectable considering the power of the engine.
Driving feel is certainly fun in this nimble and responsive hatch, with cornering being a breeze and steering feel being well balanced. Now it’s not quite a Mazda 3 (nothing really is though) but the Forte 5 must be commended for offering Canadian drivers a quality alternative in the hot hatch market.
Inside is where the Forte 5 SX shows its strength.
Starting with heated and cooled leather front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, soft touch materials and a ton of others, Kia has really stepped up their game in creating a beautiful, functional cabin.
There’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on the Fote 5…huzzah!
There’s no cheap feelings to be had here. The more and more Kia’s I spend time in, the more and more I’m appreciating their build quality and just how good their interiors are. The seats are pleasantly comfortable, it’s roomy enough for four adults (add the fifth one if you must) and there’s an overall great look and feel here.
On the safety side, the SX offers a rear camera, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist and rear-cross traffic alerts. I feel it’s only a matter of time before Kia and the rest of the manufacturers follow Toyota’s lead by offering a suite of active safety features standard. I’d like to have seen an adaptive cruise control option and or lane departure but it’s nitpicking opposed to complaining.
With the rear seats up, you’ll get 657 litres of space for cargo and once those seats are folded, your cargo volume jumps to an impressive 1,597 litres.
All in all, Kia’s sporty and trendy hatch option gives Canadian shoppers a solid option if they’re not quite crossover/SUV/CUV crazed. The mid-trim EX will be the volume seller here but I encourage you to take a peek at the SX and see just how much value you’re getting for a touch less than $30K.
Aside from a missing manual gearbox, I’m quite fond of the new Forte 5 and would happily spend another week in it.
Enjoy the full gallery below: