2010 Kia Forte Koup SX Review – Kopious Kar for the Kash

Expert Reviews Kia

2010 Kia Koupe Forte

By Kurt Gensheimer


  • Outstanding value
  • Head-turning exterior design
  • Performance on par with Civic Si
  • Class-leading rear seat legroom


  • Rage-inducing drive-by-wire throttle
  • Vague clutch takeup
  • Cheeseball speaker LEDs
  • Rear seat headroom fit for the Headless Horseman

Ruling: Behold, the very first Kia that you’d actually want to be seen in.

2010 Kia Forte Koup badge

We all know the post September 11 airport arrival and departure procedure; pull up to the curb, race around to your spouse/friend/next-of-kin, give them a hurried kiss/handshake/hug, yank their luggage from their hands, huck the luggage in the trunk and peel rubber outta there before the big bad airport security guy threatens to arrest you for obstruction of national security.

I was completely prepared for this routine when picking up my wife at the airport in a copperhead-colored 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX. I zoomed up to the curb, leaped out of the car, and before I could even give her a smooch on the cheek, I heard a dreaded, low, grumbly voice. “HEY!”

Busted. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t parked for more than five seconds. Could this guy be serious? I turned to see airport security guy standing with his bulging arms crossed, peering through his reflective silver sunshades. “Hey, man.” Oh boy, here it comes. “What kind of car is this?”

It took me a half-second to realize that he wasn’t about to tongue-lash me. Astonishingly, he was interested in the car.

“It’s a Kia.”

“A Kia, huh? Hmmm….”

As the cars lined up behind me, scrambling for their passengers, airport security guy walked a 360 around the car with his hand rubbing his chin in deep contemplation. At that point I realized the Koup’s good looks bought me a few minutes of time.

2010 Kia Forte Koup

I casually loaded my wife’s luggage, nodded confidently at the dumbfounded curbside passengers witnessing this inexplicable event and strolled over to airport security guy.

“Not bad. Not bad,” he said as he ran his hand along the sloping roofline. “I like this machine.”

A smug “thanks” was all I could muster.

“All right, well, now you have yourself a good one, sir. Okay?”

As we pulled away from the curb, airport security guy stopped a line of traffic, gave us a smile and politely waved us out. Just as I was about to thank him, his countenance grew fierce and he turned to the $100,000 Porsche Panamera behind me and roared, “Move that pathetic, overpriced hunk of kraut crap now or its gonna wind up where it belongs…on a flatbed!”

2010 Kia Forte Koup

Because this incident happened on the very first day of my week-long relationship with the Forte Koup, I realized right away that this car represents a dramatic shift in a new direction for Kia. No longer the laughing stock of the automotive industry, in the past three years Kia has stepped up its game something fierce.

So fierce in fact, that in 2006, Kia recruited the designer of the original TT away from Audi to create new designs like the Forte Koup, which explains some of the Koup’s styling features resembling the German marque, and perhaps also explains why airport security guy was so drawn to a car costing no more than $20,000.

Kia Forte Koup 173 hp 2.4L 4-cylinder engine


The Koup isn’t all flash and no dash. The SX model we tested came equipped with the larger 2.4 liter powerplant generating 173 horses and 168 lb-ft of torque. The Koup is good for a 0-60 sprint just over seven seconds in duration and a quarter mile time of 15.7 @ 91 mph – numbers on par with more respected and expensive models like the Civic Si, Scion tC and Mazda3. Also on par are the fuel economy numbers, which in our 6-speed manual equipped model were rated at 22 city and 32 freeway (23/31 in automatic guise).

The motor has adequate pickup, but power falls off a cliff after 5,000 RPMs. The exhaust note is sporty without the typical thrashiness you’d expect from a sub-$20,000 compact.

(Continued on page 2)

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  • Trevor Count says:

    Faux leather?? What kind of BS is that? My SX has the real deal leather interior, so don’t know what interior they reviewed. Plus, I love the speaker lights!

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