2017-kia-forte5For 2017, the Forte lineup arrives with restyled looks, more as-standard equipment and an upgraded, more refined cabin.

We tested a rather interesting variant, namely a 2017 Kia Forte5 SX hatchback that looked really cool with its Euro-inspired looks. The design offers a sweeping roofline, tight defined styling and a wide, strong sporty stance.

The base Forte EX is equipped with a 2.0 liter four-cylinder with a Six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. The SX offers a more powerful 1.6 turbo engine and with all the fancy equipment as tested starts at $29,895. The SX powertrain also offers the excellent seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The SX trim adds such exclusive features as a unique lower front fascia design with fog lights and sporty red exterior accent touches, xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, LED light bar taillights, a rear spoiler, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Kia’s have always offered amazing value for money and the SX is no exception. Buyers gain: heated and ventilated front seats with the driver’s seat – a 10 way power seats with memory function, there is also a heated sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, leather upholstery, alloy sport pedals, and a power sunroof. Even the rear sets are heated! The infotainment system is of note, with a 7-inch multimedia screen, and a bevy of features, including both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The Forte5 SX is powered by Kia’s 1.6L turbo I4 that produces 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque in an impressive rpm range from around 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. It’s a powerful free-revving unit with plenty of grunt.

The front cabin features a smart sporty looking dash and good ergonomics. Fit and finish is great. In the rear cabin, one finds heated outboard seats and plenty of head – and legroom. The trunks offers a security cover and 657 litres of cargo space. Fold the seats down and buyers gain 1,597 litres of space- plus there is under-floor storage.

Safety is very high on the Kia and puts many higher priced cars to shame. The Forte5 SX arrives with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist which uses is also adjustable for sensitivity. Some cars costing twice as much do not offer these important safety aids.

On the road, the SX’s 1.6-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine generates 201 horsepower and 195 lb. of torque at 1,500 rpm. Turbo lag is almost absent and allows for rapid peak torque and a smooth, transition through the tach range. Acceleration is good and the Forte5 new seven-speed auto transmission offers an impressive 0 to 100 kilometres dash at around 7.3 seconds that makes it a match for the competition. Also adding to the performance is the Forte5’s Kia’s Drive 3 Mode select system that can change throttle response, tranny shift points and the steering parameters for either performance or economy. Eco mode is for fuel saving, while Normal default mode, offers a good all-round everyday mode. Sport mode is entertaining as it tightens the steering for more feedback and precise cornering, allowing for faster, more planted attacks on bends and switchbacks. The SX’s larger uprated front brakes also add to the level of confidence and aplomb when turning the juice on little and needing to stop! Fuel economy is rated at by Canada Energuide at L/100km City-9.4, Highway-7.9.

Nothing much too complain about much in the Kia Forte5. It’s worth paying a little extra for the turbo engine and the extra equipment levels and the excellent safety features to make the level of ownership much higher, without breaking the bank. In short, the 2017 Kia Forte5 SX is a well-crafted, beautifully detailed compact performance hatchback that is great for families or active singles. Buyer gain a versatile cabin and cargo area, and Kia’s well-equipped features and value for money. Add to the mix, great handling, acceleration and an entertaining fun –to –drive car and you have the making of a very competent hot hatchback! Highly recommended.

2017 Kia Forte5 SX Hatchback Base price: $27,295.

Price as tested: $31,755 including Freight.