The Kia Forte and Hyundai Elantra have long followed similar paths, with each available in a four-door sedan, a five-door hatch and (most recently) a two-door coupe bodystyle. The recent death of the Hyundai Elantra Coupe in the US may be threatening to change the narrative on these two affordable compact lines, of course, but the Korean two-doors have a lot in common under their distinct skins. Their most recent iterations came to market under the power of the same 2.0-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder paired with six-speed automatic transmissions and riding atop MacPherson strut front suspensions and torsion-beam setups out back. Each arrived weighing between 2,800 and 3,000 pounds and could be had in base form for less than $20,000. Considering this, the empirical performance stats figured to be similar. There's an important distinction to be made, however. Rather than offer a simple two-door version of a four-door car, like Hyundai did with its Elantra Coupe, Kia has gone to lengths to craft a vehicle with its own unique attitude and attributes. Kia has embraced a sportier stance with its two-door Forte Koup, offering up a standard six-speed manual and going further in an effort to craft a more unique, aggressive coupe design. That drive to be different was further accentuated last year, when Kia raided Hyundai's parts bin and plucked out the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the Veloster Turbo. The resulting car is decidedly different than any other Forte we've tested, while also feeling like a better all-around product than the smaller hot hatch it stole its engine from. To see just how much better, we drove the Forte Koup SX for a week and set about seeing how this enhanced model stacks up as a performance offering. This car's best angle is its rear three-quarter view, which is a real aesthetic highlight in this increasingly style-conscious segment. Let's start by noting that I'm a big fan of the Forte Koup's appearance. I think that insect-like front end can be a bit ungainly from some angles, but it grows on you, and the overall look has evolved nicely from the Honda Civic clone of the last-gen model. This car's best angle, though, is its rear three-quarter view, which shows off its dramatic rear end, complete with sloping roofline, subtle rear lip spoiler, wraparound taillights and contrasting rear bumper trim. It's a real aesthetic highlight in this increasingly style-conscious segment. 18-inch alloys come standard on the SX, while 16-inch hoops are the sole wheel set offered on the EX. Out back, the EX's single, chrome-tipped exhaust has been replaced with a pair of oval outlets that flank a sporty diffuser designed to look like it's constructed of matte carbon-fiber weave (the front fascia wears a similar strip). Above that is a gloss-black surround for the license plate, which works well with other gloss-black accents (mirror caps and door handles), complementing the Racing Red paint of my tester. Overall, Kia has successfully built a car that balances the Forte Koup's already attractive …
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|MPG||24 City / 33 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||173 @ 6500 rpm|
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