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The Kia Forte Koup is an all-new model for 2010. Although the Koup is slightly shorter, lower, and narrower than the Forte sedan, it carried over many of the same styling cues and shares much mechanically with the 4-door.
The Koup is offered in two different trims, EX and SX. The EX is powered by a 156-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, while the SX gets a 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four. Both engines get continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) to help optimize performance and fuel economy, but transmission offerings are different; EX models offer a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission, but SX trims have either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic. They're both quite fuel-efficient, but the 2.0-liter is the better of the two, with ratings of 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway with either transmission.
The Forte Koup rides on struts and coil springs in front and a torsion-beam setup in back, with stabilizer bars front and back. Engine-speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering works well in feeling tight and responsive in corners yet requires little effort for parking situations. On SX models, the suspension gets a firmer tuning for improved handling and an upgrade to 17-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels, but in either case the Koup rides quite well.
The Koup has details and styling cues that help it bear a strong likeness to that of the Forte sedan, but with a lower roofline and overall length that's two inches shorter, the Koup's profile is quite different than the sedan's, especially from the side. The back seat is adult-sized, though entry is a little tight; it's split 60/40, and the seatbacks can be folded forward, almost flat, to extend the cargo floor for large items.
On the SX, the interior is dressed up with a sportier look and feel, including red contrast stitching, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, metal pedals and trim, telescopic steering, and speaker lights that flash to the beat of music as it's played.
Kia equipped the Forte Koup to appeal to young and tech-savvy shoppers, so Bluetooth connectivity is standard, as are voice-activated functions and steering-wheel controls. A USB input, auxiliary input, iPod interface and Sirius satellite radio are also included with a 6-speaker sound system. Several other premium features like heated mirrors, keyless entry and cruise control are also included with the base EX. The SX models, in addition to all the performance upgrades and appearance extras, gets fog lamps, upgraded sport seats with active headrests, and a trip computer. In addition to the expected side and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control is standard even on the base EX, as are anti-lock brakes.
Among the top options offered on the Koup are a sunroof, and a Leather Package that brings leather upholstery, heated front seats and on the EX, an upgrade to the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter.