With it slick Euro-look lines, the Kia Forte5 is a remarkably good looking compact hatchback. For 2017, it's even better looking, thanks to a mid-cycle update that brings a freshened styling and additional equipment.
The new Forte is easily differentiated from last year's model by its front-end styling; a more prominent version of the brand's signature "Tiger" grille is flanked by wider headlamps that are available with HID bulbs and LED accents. Around back, the 5 also receives restyled tail lights.
The overall styling brings the compact hatchback more in line with the rest of the Kia lineup, but the Forte5 gets unique front valance styling with large round fog lamps to set it apart from the Sedan. The SX trim also features a red stripe across the lower grille section, a hint at its higher performance credentials.
Changes to the interior are minimal for the Forte5; all models now receive Android Auto as standard - a welcome addition. Apple CarPlay is not yet available, though we suspect it will be within the next year or so. Oddly, Kia has brought the Forte5 to market without emergency autonomous braking, a feature available on the Sedan. Buyers can get the Forte5 with blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist, though.
Most Forte5s come powered by a 2.0-litre direct-injected inline-four engine that develops 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. A choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic is available. Economy ratings range between 9.4-9.8 L/100 km city and 7.0-7.3 L/100 km highway depending on transmission.
The SX trim receives a more powerful 201-hp, 195 lb-ft of torque turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, which is paired to a new seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. The setup also comes with paddles for manual shifting. It's enough to give the Forte5 the edge over the new Honda Civic Hatchback in the performance department, though it's not quite as potent as the VW GTI or Ford Focus ST. For 2017, Kia has dropped the six-speed manual option, leaving the dual-clutch as the only choice.
The Forte5 is available in LX+, EX, and SX trims.
The LX+ includes 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, fog lights, power heated mirrors, body coloured door handles, wiper de-icer, solar tinted glass, heated seats, air conditioning, automatic headlights, a 7.0-inch display audio system with USB, Bluetooth, reverse camera, Android Auto, trip computer, and cruise control.
The EX adds 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, LED turn signal indicators, power folding mirrors, exterior chrome trim, stainless steel exhaust tip, proximity key with push-button start, sliding centre armrest, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, selectable drive modes, premium cloth upholstery, soft-touch door panels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
An optional Luxury Package adds 17-inch machined alloy wheels, power sunroof, Supervision instrument cluster, heated steering wheel, 10-way power driver's seat with memory, and blind-spot monitoring.
In addition to the upgraded powertrain, the SX also gets a rear spoiler, sport grille and front bumper, 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust, power sunroof, Supervision instrumentation, navigation, paddles for manual shifting, a heated steering wheel, 10-way power driver's seat with memory, alloy pedal covers, blind-spot warning, and lane-keeping assist.
Pricing for the 2017 Kia Forte5 starts at $19,695, and tops out at $29,895 for the SX.