What is it? A grown up Kia Forte with a side profile not so far removed from Mercedes-Benz’s CLA.
Why does it matter? Kia would appear to have pretentions to Teutonism, what with the Stinger trying to go head-to-head with BMW’s 3 Series and the new Forte looking like a baby Benz. The redesign is nothing short of dramatic, the Forte evolving from a cab-forward design to a sedan that is decidedly swept-back, bordering on the four-door coupe-ish
When will Canada get it? Spring 2018.
Should you buy it? Well, it certainly looks a treat with its aggressive haunches and Mercedes-like silhouette. Longer, wider and taller than before, Kia says the 2019 will be a leader in its segment for both cabin and cargo volume all while increasing the stiffness of the chassis by some 16 percent.
The Forte also sees Kia’s first built-in-house CVT transmission — Kia calls it IVT for Intelligent Variable Transmission — maximizing fuel efficiency from the second-generation “Nu” 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle inline-four engine. Good for 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, EPA estimates — Transport Canada figures are not yet available — suggest that the new, IVT equipped of course, suggest the new Forte is 10 per cent more fuel efficient than the 2018 model, its 35 miles per gallon equivalent to 6.7 L/100 kilometres.
Kia is extremely proud of its IVT engineering, claiming transmission noise has been reduced by five decibels and that the “rubber band” feeling that consumer mock in CVTs has been eliminated by incorporating adaptive shift logic and using a chain-type belt instead of push belt.
The Forte also comes packed with technology, including a standard eight-inch touchscreen and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay which, with select smartphone devices, can read SMS texts aloud through the car’s Bluetooth connectivity. The centre stack’s wireless charging can power Android devices as well as the new iPhone 8 and X. There’s even a 32-watt Harman/Kardon audio system available on top trim levels.
And finally, Kia’s suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems offers Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Lane Keeping Assist as well as optional Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and Smart Cruise Control.