Track Tested: 2011 Kia Forte Koup SX (6-speed manual)

Track Tested: 2011 Kia Forte Koup SX (6-speed manual)


By now we know quite a bit about the 2011 Kia Forte Koup. We've driven it  and we've tested one with a five-speed automatic. We know it's styled by former Audi designer Peter Schreyer, and we know it's a real threat to the traditional coupes coming out of Japan and the U.S.

Thing is, we never knew how it actually performed with the transmission we'd want: a six-speed manual. In terms of power, this 2011 Kia Forte Koup SX 6MT with its 173-horsepower 2.4-liter, splits the difference between the 1.8-liter 140-horsepower Civic and its 2.4-liter, 201-hp big-brother Civic Si, and it's got more power than the 2.5-liter Mazda 3, which makes 167.

So, does it live up to expectations? Can this $18,395 (base) Kia Forte Koup keep up with the big boys in the compact class?

Vehicle: 2011 Kia Forte Koup SX 6MT
Date Tested: 6-28-2011
Driver: Mike Monticello

Drive Type: Longitudinal, front-engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Displacement (cc): 2,359cc
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 173 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 168 @ 4,000
Steering System: Hydraulic-assist, speed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, shock absorbers, stabilizer bars
Suspension Type (rear): Torsion beam, coil springs, monotube absorbers
Tire Size (front): P215/45R17 (87H)
Tire Size (rear): P215/45R17 (87H)
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Eagle LS2
Tire Type: All-season
Wheel size: 17 inches front and rear
Brakes Front: 11.8-inch ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes Rear: 10.3-inch solid cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 2,918

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 2.7 (3.2 with T/C on)
0-45 (sec): 5.1 (6.1 with T/C on)
0-60 (sec): 7.6 (8.6 with T/C on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.3 (8.3 with T/C on)
0-75 (sec): 11.9 (13.0 with T/C on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.8 @ 88.8 (16.5 @ 87.3  with T/C on)

30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 120

Slalom (mph): 67.3 (61.3 with T/C on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.84 (0.76 with T/C on)

Db @ Idle: 44.0
Db @ Full Throttle: 74.7
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 66.9



Acceleration: Best 0-60 run came with a 3,800 rpm drop-clutch launch with plenty of front wheelspin, and shifting to 3rd gear just as the soft rev limiter kicked in. Engine doesn't start making usable power until about 4,000 rpm. Shifter has positive enough gates, although kinda long throws. But rush it too much and there's some kind of driveline-saver hesitation at work on really quick shifts/clutch pops.

Braking comments: Stops were inconsistent, but pedal remained firm, with short travel. A bit of side-to-side wiggle, and the Forte would occasionally pull to the right at the end of the run. It gets an average rating because the distances varied by as much as 11 feet.

Handling: Skid pad: Not horrible grip here. Good feel from the steering and could work the throttle on/off to keep the Koup on the arc, although abrupt throttle delivery made it difficult to be smooth with ESC Off. With ESC On, the stability system would MASSIVELY cut throttle. Much more so than the last Koup we tested. Slalom: Although the tires and suspension tuning feel very similar to the Forte five-door we tested last week, the steering seems oddly slower, making it difficult to get the Koup turned quickly enough for the next cone. Frustrating because the grip and suspension are there. Even worse, the ESC system was FAR more aggressive at adding brakes to slow the car than the last Koup we tested, making for incredibly frustrating (and slow) ESC On runs.

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