The 2019 Forte’s smarter and stronger twin

The GT version of the Forte was to arrive soon, but we expected it to make its debut at the Detroit Motor Show early next year. The South Korean automaker caught us by surprise by releasing the updated Forte GT for the 202 model year. It carries the good looks but adds more grunt and pace to the standard Forte.

2020 Kia Forte GT Exterior

2020 Kia Forte GT
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In terms of visual tweaks, the Forte GT comes with a new black grille with red accents, gloss-black mirrors, new side skirts, and a rear spoiler.

The gloss-black is seen even on the side sills, rear spoiler, and turn indicators.

The Forte GT can be availed with the optional 18-inch Michelin Sport summer tires that add an extra gist to the car’s overall proportionate and stylish look.

2020 Kia Forte GT Interior

2020 Kia Forte GT
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Inside, the seats offer extra bolstering and come with the black-red combination and contrast stitching as well. The Forte GT gets a flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel and different floor pedals.

Kia will be offering the Forte GT in two trims – GT1 and GT2, and the latter can be availed with a sunroof and ambient lighting.

The GT will be equipped with features likes a rearview camera, heated front seats, automatic climate control, and Kia’s UVO infotainment system that supports Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay.

2020 Kia Forte GT
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Now, the car looks stylish with curves in all the right places, but that hampers with the space within the cabin. The seats are placed low, and the raking roofline at the rear reduces the headroom significantly. Six-footers will call shotgun in every possible situation. The seats are pretty slim and you’ll end up longing for more cushions and bolstering everywhere. Once seated, the Forte GT seems cosy and NVH levels are well-controlled.

2020 Kia Forte GT Drivetrain

2020 Kia Forte GT
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The 2020 Forte GT replaces the 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder with a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that produces 201 horses and 195 pound-feet of torque.

This is much better than the standard Forte that is sold with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder and 147 horses and 132 pound-feet of torque on tap. Even the strongest powertrain in the forte, a 2.0-liter, four-pot unit that produces 164 horsepower and 151 ponies is not as good as the GT’s. The same setup is seen on the Hyundai Elantra Sport and the GT Sport. It will be mated to a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic transmission system with paddle shifters.

2020 Kia Forte GT
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Unlike the standard Forte’s torsion beam suspension setup, the Forte GT is offered with multilink arrangement - the same design as that of the Hyundai Elantra Sport. The hot car will also sound better; thanks to the sports-tuned dual exhaust system.

2020 Kia Forte GT Prices

2020 Kia Forte GT
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Pricing for the GT has yet to be announced, but considering the fact that the standard 2019 Kia Forte costs around $19,000, we speculate the Forte GT to be priced around $22,000 - $23,000.

2020 Kia Forte GT Competition

Hyundai Elantra Sport

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport Exterior
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Even though they have the same blood running through them, they are still competitors. Under the hood, there is no change whatsoever. Looks are subjective, but we give the Forte GT better marks over here since the Elantra has been toned down when compared to its predecessors. The interior layout is also much sportier in the Forte GT. Given that both the cars are priced the same, our pick would be the Forte GT since it is a fresher face in the market and also has much better interiors.

Read our full review on the Hyundai Elantra Sport.

Honda Civic Si

2018 Honda Civic Si Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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The Civic Si comes with good looks, and a feature-rich interior that is practically laid-out. Under the hood is a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 205 horses and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Stuff like adaptive dampers, heated front seats, and the impeccable ride and handling play a great hand in convincing you to go for this car. But, the Civic Si gasps for breath at higher speeds and even its acceleration is not up to the mark; add to that the awkward clutch-throw which will perhaps leave you wanting for more. In the end, the Civic Si is a mixed bag that is too hard to resist, and even a new face like the Kia Forte will find it tough to beat this veteran.

Read our full review on the Honda Civic Si

Conclusion

2020 Kia Forte GT
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The Kia Forte looks to have scored a home run with the Forte GT. Kia has basically borrowed an engine setup that is doing duty in other cars already, plonked it into the existing Forte, and gave it a little make up. This resulted in a car that is not only looks smart, but will also draw the attention of the people who liked Elantra GT for how it drives, but not how it looked - Low levels of R&D, but high customer retention rate.

While the Kia Forte seems to be a breath of fresh air in the rather boring line up, the company wants to make sure it has got all the bases covered. So, Kia will be introducing a slightly less exciting "GT Line" trim car; which gets the GT’s looks, but is a standard Forte otherwise. This is targeted to the people who would not want to pay the extra premium for the mechanical changes, but would still want the GT’s appearance.

  • Leave it
    • Could eat into the Ceed GT and Elantra Sport’s sales
    • GT Line trim would sell more than the GT itself due to same appearance
    • Lack of cabin space still not addressed

Further reading

2019 Kia Forte Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Kia Forte.

At the show that brings together an eclectic mix of wild concepts, high-horsepower muscle cars, and uber lifted trucks, Kia Motors America (KMA) is excited to unveil the 2020 Forte GT, marking the introduction of two exhilarating GT sport trims new to the Forte family of compact sedans. Race-inspired visual upgrades and added premium amenities are just some of the elements that come as part of the GT sport trims, though an available turbocharged engine and sportier suspension setup take the Forte’s performance and fun-to-drive athleticism to the next level.

“The fantastic capabilities of our team of engineers really shined in the development of the Stinger and we’re thrilled to continue injecting a bit more sport into some of the other models in the lineup” said Orth Hedrick, executive director, Car Planning and Telematics, KMA. “Whether you want a practical commuter or performance compact sedan, there’s now a Forte that appeals to several types of car shoppers. The Forte is already one of our top sellers, and we believe adding more diversity to the model line will appeal to a broader range of consumers.”

With the new sport additions, the 2020 Forte will be available in FE, LXS, EX, GT Line, and GT trim levels. For those who want the most out of the Forte GT, the trim can be elevated with available GT1 and GT2 packages. Pricing will be announced closer to the 2020 Forte’s on-sale date.

Amped Up, In and Out

The amount of sport injected into the Forte varies on the GT designation. Characterized by cosmetic upgrades only, the “GT Line” trim spices up the Forte’s presentation with a racier looking gloss black grille offset by red accents. The gloss black treatment is also applied to heated outside mirrors with LED turn signals, sport side sills, and on the rear spoiler perched atop the decklid.

To match the exterior, the interior of the Forte “GT Line” is upgraded with alloy sport pedals and a flat bottom steering wheel with white contrast stitching. Exclusive black sport cloth seats continue the theme with the same color stitching, while front seats gain performance side bolsters to keep occupants firmly ensconced through the corners.

Moving up the ladder, the GT trim is outfitted more aggressively with sport tuned dual exhaust and 18-inch alloy wheels that pop thanks to a GT-exclusive two-tone finish. Standard LED headlights, racier red contrast stitching and Smart Key w/ Push Button Start are also part of the GT treatment, as well as LED ambient interior lighting with an illuminated GT dash inlay.

Lively Performance and Favorable Convenience

While models wearing the “GT Line” badge keep the naturally aspirated 147-HP 2.0-liter MPI four-cylinder engine and Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), the higher GT trim takes the Forte’s performance and athleticism to the next level with a DOHC turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4 GDI engine. Output is an estimated 201 HP and 195 lb-ft. of torque which is sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission or 7-speed dual clutch transmission (models with the latter transmission receive steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters). A fully independent front and rear suspension, paired with larger front disc brakes and sway bars, deliver better handling and cornering, improved ride quality, and enhanced stability and steering. Befitting a true compact sport sedan, the Forte GT is available with sticky 225/40R-18 Michelin Pilot Sport Summer tires.

A suite of Kia Drive Wise technologies continues to be standard, meaning both GT sport trims are equipped with Forward Collision Warning (FCW)1, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA)1, Lane Departure Warning (LDW)1, Lane Keeping Assist-Line (LKA-Line)1, and Driver Attention Warning (DAW)2. Opting for the GT1 package adds Blind Spot Collision Warning (BCW)1 with Lane Change Assist (LCA)1 and Rear-Cross Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW)1 to the roster of technologies, while the GT2 package tops it off with the addition of Smart Cruise Control (SCC)1.

Both GT1 and GT2 packages improve the Forte’s interior environment with LED overhead lighting and power sunroof, a 320-watt Harman Kardon ® 3 premium eight-speaker audio system complete with Clari-Fi TM 4 technology, wireless charging5, 4.2-inch center LCD screen and dual-zone full automatic air conditioning. Forte GTs with the GT2 package are further differentiated with heated and ventilated SOFINO GT sport seating and a 10-way power driver’s seat.

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