Skip to main content

The 2020 Kia Forte GT.

Jason Tchir

If the 2020 Kia Forte GT looked like it sounded, it might scare people in parking lots.

It looks like, well, a Forte with a tasteful spoiler. But it growls – more than a purr, but not quite a roar.

Since we were about to take it on some perilously narrow roads through a Vancouver Island rainforest, that growl made me worry that the Forte GT might be a little too jumpy. Some sports cars, even budget sedans, want to go fast all the time.

Story continues below advertisement

But even during hairpin turns where it was a tight squeeze for traffic in both directions, the Forte GT stayed under control.

If I hadn’t been worried about motorhomes barrelling around the next corner, it probably would have been fun.

The GT's turbo engine generates 207 horsepower, 60 more than the base Forte.

Jason Tchir

Kia introduced an all-new Forte sedan last year, but it took a year for the GT – with a 207-hp turbo instead of the standard 147-hp four-banger and a dual-clutch automatic transmission instead of the continuously variable transmission (CVT) – to make it to the Canadian market.

It also took a year to get the Forte’s hatchback version, the Forte5, which won’t be sold in the United States. Canadians like hatchbacks, especially in Ontario and Quebec.

And if you’re looking for a hot hatch, we’ll be getting a hatchback version of the GT in a few weeks.

Sorry, no stick

The Forte GT doesn't have an optional stick shift.

Jason Tchir

Unlike its corporate cousins, the Hyundai Elantra Sport and Elantra GT, the Forte GT doesn’t come with a standard transmission.

That might disappoint those who like their sports cars with a stick shift. (The lower-powered base-model Forte has a manual option.)

Story continues below advertisement

But on the road, the Forte GT actually feels a lot sportier than the Elantra. And that’s by design, Kia says, as it tries to stand out as the more performance-oriented of the two brands.

I also drove a Forte5 in EX trim ($20,995). It didn’t feel underpowered. But the GT is definitely more fun to drive, if a little too stiff.

The GT has plenty of pep, though the ride is a bit stiff.

Jason Tchir

When we finally got the the GT on the highway, I had to switch on the cruise control to keep me from speeding. In a world of 700-plus horsepower cars, it’s not a beast. But for a compact, it’s got plenty of pep.

The Forte’s slogan is “a compact, not a compromise.” And it fits. For $28,995, the GT boasts more standard features than its rivals, including all the safety tech and built-in navigation.

Does it live up to that growl? Almost. But if you’re looking for more style, you might want to check out the Mazda3 or Honda Civic.

Tech specs

  • Base price: $28,995
  • Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque
  • Transmission/drive: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic/front-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.7 city/6.6 highway
  • Alternatives: Hyundai Elantra GT, Mazda3 GT, Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic Si, Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Corolla

Looks

A small black spoiler and red detailing on the wheels add a little flair to the Forte's modest styling.

Jason Tchir

Looks can be deceiving. The Forte GT isn’t bland, but it might not turn heads – until you step on the gas. Black mirrors, a black spoiler, red details on the grille and 18-inch wheels with red trim make it a little sexier, without looking out of place.

Interior

The GT boasts more standard features than its rivals, including plenty of safety tech and built-in navigation.

Jason Tchir

It comes with nearly everything you could ask for, and controls are simple and logical. The switch to turn off lane-keeping assist was a little tricky to find while driving. Some of the interior plastics feel a bit cheaper than the Honda Civic and Mazda3. The back seat is a little tighter than rivals', as well.

Performance

Handling is precise, but the ride is a little stiff. The dual-clutch transmission is an improvement over the CVT.

Technology

It comes standard with adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. It also has wireless charging and Android Auto/CarPlay.

Cargo

The GT's trunk is second in its class to the Honda Civic.

Jason Tchir/The Globe and Mail

At 705 litres, it’s got a big trunk. It’s second only to the Honda Civic in its segment.

The verdict

If you’re looking for some fun on the road, there’s not much compromise in this sporty compact.

Story continues below advertisement

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

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up today.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter