The transformation of automaker from utilitarian conservative to something with a little more, well, soul takes years, if not decades. Kia Motors America (KMA) is hoping that the 2010 Forte Koup production car that debuted today in New York will help move the brand best known for its 100,000 mile warranty into higher levels of consideration for its Forte lineup from existing Honda and Toyota owners.
The company’s first two-door coupe follows a design direction first seen on the concept version of the Soul urban passenger vehicle in 2006. Compared to other coupes in the segment or even its own production Soul, the Koup is but a half-step toward the stated goal of more emotional and sporty appeal. What is an admittedly big step on this journey for Kia isn’t all that daring in a global car wars context. The Koup looks to me ‘European conservative “of a generation ago, without the fast sloping roof and sculpted bodysides that are currently in fashion.
“We believe our new design evolution coupled with standard Kia value and safety features will continue to attract customers to the Kia brand,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing, KMA.
With a wheelbase of 104.3 inches, an overall length of 176.4 inches, an overall width of 69.5 inches and overall height of 55.1 inches, Forte Koup is a bit shorter in length and height than the Forte sedan. The compact still has for up to five, smallish, passengers. Koup’s lowered stance provides better aerodynamics and look then the sedan has. Standard for the Forte Koup EX are body-color bumpers, power heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals and 16-inch alloy wheels with P205/55R16 tires. The SX trim offers a more aggressive profile, with 17-inch alloy wheels paired with P215/45R17 tires.
Built on a front-wheel-drive unit body frame, Forte Koup uses the same platform as the sedan, with an independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and front stabilizer bar and a torsion beam rear suspension with struts and coil springs — the tried and true econobox set-up. An engine-speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system should help provide the most advantageous amount of assist for varying road conditions. The SX trim model also comes with a sport-tuned suspension providing for a firmer ride with reduced body roll and improved handling. (more…)