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The 2020 Kia Forte5.

Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

In a rare Canadian automotive coup, Montreal just hosted the North American debut of the 2020 Kia Forte5. It will be on display at the Montreal auto show this week.

Like its predecessor, the 5 is the hatchback sibling of the Forte sedan, which competes in the compact-car segment dominated by the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. The redesigned sedan came to market last fall as a 2019 model.

Like its sibling, the new hatchback looks more understated than the previous model but may well have more staying power as a result. Is it just me, or is the once-striking style of the current-generation Honda Civic now starting to look un peu passé?

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The new Forte5 is 160 mm longer, 20 mm wider and 10 mm lower than the current model.

Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

The Forte’s lines are similar to the European-market Kia Procee’d – yes, that’s what they call it – with a stance and proportions that benefit from a body that’s 160 mm longer, 20 mm wider and 10 mm lower than the current model. The look also “communicates its intentions to be the performance-focused ‘bad boy’ within the Forte family,” said marketing director Michael Kopke.

The hatch will share the sedan’s base powertrain, a 147-horsepower 2.0-litre engine hitched to a continuously-variable automatic transmission (in Kia-speak: IVT, or “intelligent” variable transmission) that replaces the previous six-speed. A manual option will not be available.

Unlike the sedan, the hatch will also offer a high-performance option in the form of a 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-litre engine paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. It’s the same powertrain we liked in Forte’s corporate-sister car, the Hyundai Elantra Sport. The 1.6 engine would certainly be our choice over the 2.0/IVT combo, which we found rather unrefined in the sedan and marred by the random revving typical of a continuously-variable transmission.

A high-performance version of the Forte5 will feature a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

A static poke-and-prod at the Montreal reveal indicated the driving position is spot-on, rear-seat knee room is respectable, and the cargo deck is generously dimensioned – with useful compartmented storage space below – and the seatback folds nicely flush with the deck, nearly flat.

Without going into specifics, Kia promises the Forte5 will feature advanced safety technology and driver connectivity. The Forte5 is still the better part of a year from its sales launch, so there is no information yet on trim grades or pricing.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.


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