When we last met the 2019 Kia Forte, it was navigating the twist and turns of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The mountain roads that dotted our route highlighted the Forte’s new chassis, as well as the spirited character that defined its exterior and interior design. Sadly, a lack of power was also evident, and it had us wondering “Where’s the Beef?” Well it appears Kia has been listening to this persistent criticism, and has at last given the Forte a proper engine to formally tango with its reworked bones, as well as a new trim the Forte GT,
Living up to its sporting name, the GT brings more zest to the Forte’s DNA, starting with several visual enhancements to help separate it from the standard EX model. Like the Soul Turbo, revisions here are relatively minor, with a model exclusive body kit, a rear spoiler, two tone wheels, and a black and red accented grille setting the mood quite nicely. We liked the premium styling cues that defines select elements of its exterior design, and its good to see that the GT (and its lesser GT-Line sibling) add more to this intriguing canvas versus detracting from it in any discernible way. Like the Stinger, the Forte GT will be available in GT1 or GT2 trims with each one denoting a higher shade of performance.
The interior has also seen its fair share of tweaks. Like the exterior, the interior retains the bulk of the magic that helped us fall in love with it in lesser Fortes. However, Kia designers equipped the cabin with an all new flat bottomed steering wheel, aluminum look pedals, and sport seats that feature contrasting piping, as well as additional levels of bolstering for higher degrees of support in spirited driving. Look for top tier GT2 models to benefit from features such as a sunroof as well as LED ambient lighting accents.
But the headline attraction is what’s under the hood, with the Forte being the latest recipient of the firm’s 1.6 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine. Last seen in the previous generation Forte 5 SX hatchback, the spirited four banger produces a healthy 201 horsepower, and is mated to either a six speed manual transmission, or a seven speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. 0 to 60 times are unknown at this juncture, but look for the Forte GT to have established benchmarks such as the Civic Si and the Volkswagen Jetta GLI in its crosshairs. The Forte GT also benefits from several handling upgrades including an all new multi-link rear suspension that pitches the old torsion beam rear suspension to the curb, and should be similar to what we have seen in the Elantra Sport. Rounding out the changes are a set of 18-inch wheels that can be shod in optional Michelin Sport summer tires to help give the Forte the enhanced grip it needs to explore its higher limits.
For the moment, the 2020 Kia Forte GT will be available only as a sedan, but look for its hatchback counterpart to eventually arrive in the U.S. in the near future. Previewed by its European counterpart the Ceed GT, the hatchback would most likely revive the Forte 5 nameplate in the U.S. market. On the more immediate side of things, the Forte GT will arrive in U.S. showrooms this summer, with prices expected to start between $22,000 and $23,000.
If this is too much coin for your wallet, Kia has you covered with a more budget oriented alternative. Dubbed the “GT-Line” this particular model retains a lot of the GT’s exterior and interior tweaks, but it retains the base 147 horsepower 2.0 liter four cylinder. Look for this model to take on rivals such as the Fiesta ST Line, as well as the Sonic RS, which take a similar approach when it comes to offering sporty styling for a high value quotient. Either way, the GT finally completes the Forte lineup, and we look forward to checking it out for ourselves soon.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.