Kia Venga

Kia-Venga

Kia-Venga

Kia’s stylish and uniquely spacious new premium B-segment contender will be named Kia Venga when it goes on sale across Europe in late 2009 and in the UK early in 2010.

Due for its world debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Kia Venga is based on the Kia No3 Concept shown at Geneva in March 2009.

Designed, engineered and manufactured in Europe, the 4,068 mm long Kia Venga features an unusually long wheelbase for its class of 2,615 mm – and a 1600 mm high roofline to maximise cabin space.

Skilful packaging will ensure that the Kia Venga redefines the category by offering levels of interior space typical of a larger C-segment vehicle, but within a B-segment footprint.

Every engine in the Kia Venga line-up will be available with Kia’s fuel-stretching Intelligent Stop and Go technology and will comply with Euro 5 emission standards. Kia Venga will be marketed exclusively in Europe where consumers will be offered a choice of two 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines, generating between 75 and 115 ps.

The Kia Venga will be equipped with a sliding 60/40 split rear seat that also folds flat into the floor to create a spacious cargo bay and, a twin-level boot floor and depending on model a tilt-and-slide all-glass panoramic roof.

Michael Cole, Managing Director of Kia Motors (UK) Limited said: “The ‘No3’ was one of the stars of Geneva and I am certain Kia Venga will attract similar attention in Frankfurt.

“This is exactly the kind of vehicle UK motorists are looking for as we emerge from the recent economic turmoil – a fantastically flexible package providing big-car comfort and space within a compact package. It will offer our customers style, sophistication and refinement coupled with environmental economy,” he added.

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Kia Sorento

Kia-Sorento

Kia-Sorento

Longer and lower, the new Kia Sorento brings sleek styling and a futuristic touch to the world of the urban CUV. With its longer front overhang, wedge profile, crisply defined greenhouse and accentuated wheelarch volumes, Kia’s new CUV looks thoroughly modern and sporty.

The 4.7-metre long new Kia Sorento moves vehicle design in this segment up to a new level of sophistication.

As part of Kia’s drive to expand market coverage with its latest CUV, the new Kia Sorento will be manufactured with a total of four engines – with different engines being available in various regions around the world in order to best suit local requirements and with CO2 emissions from just 173 g/km.

The original Kia Sorento was a ‘landmark’ vehicle which took the Korean brand into a whole new section of the automotive market all around the world. Introduced in 2002, it marked a huge step for Kia, challenging many established 4×4 and SUV brands and starting the process of changing public perception of Kia as a ‘maker of small cars.’

Now, under the direction of Kia’s Chief Design Officer (CDO), Peter Schreyer, the Kia design team aimed to deliver futuristic styling with a bold sense of power and dynamism, to once again differentiate Kia’s larger CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) from potential rivals by incorporating Kia’s new design DNA.

// // “The dynamic design of new Kia Sorento adopts simple, linear lines to create a powerful, yet polished appearance. Sporty and striking, the new Kia Sorento represents a new breed of vehicle,” commented Peter Schreyer, CDO of Kia Motors Corporation.

Bold frontal styling incorporates Kia’s new ‘signature grille’ that blends seamlessly into the new Kia Sorento’s four-light, black bezel wrap-around headlamps. The profile’s rising upper belt-line and the dynamic bevel treatment beneath the greenhouse plus the unique trapezoid C-Pillar adds tension and endows new Sorento with a unique appearance. Extending the rear window to the outer edges of the simply styled tailgate hints at the spacious cabin and the large tail lamps enhance the sporty appearance.

During the development of the new Sorento, Kia engineers ditched the body-on-frame structure and designed an all-new unitary (monocoque) bodyshell with room for up to seven occupants. Building on those new foundations, they concentrated on eight key areas – class-leading performance, increased fuel economy, reduced emissions, improved on-road handling, more fun-to-drive responsiveness, greater cabin space and comfort, enhanced overall safety and the introduction of new technologies.

The original Kia Sorento earned widespread media and public acclaim for its innovative styling, durability, off-road abilities and value-for-money. Since 2002 it has attracted thousands of customers who had not previously considered buying a Kia and achieved global sales of almost 900,000 units.

“With the new Sorento, we have created an all-new, seven-seater CUV that will soon be recognized as an ‘exciting all-rounder’ with a much broader customer appeal,” commented Hyoung-Keun Lee, Senior Executive Vice President & COO of the International Business Division. “Despite the current economic uncertainties, we are confident that the new Kia Sorento will significantly increase Kia’s share of the CUV market, achieving annual global sales of 140,000 units from 2010.”

The new, longer bodyshell created for the new Kia Sorento, with its repositioned A-pillars and dashboard (moved forwards) and extended tailgate (moved rearwards), ensures that the cabin is much more spacious than the current model. The real and perceived quality of the cabin is greatly enhanced and available high-tech features will include: keyless entry, engine start button, reversing safety camera, built-in sat-nav and panoramic glass sunroof.

The new Kia Sorento’s interior styling echoes the sense of power and dynamism created by the exterior appearance. Kia is confident that existing Sorento owners and new customers will be equally impressed by the cabin’s generous proportions, sweeping dashboard design, high-quality fit, discreet trim accents and the availability of numerous high-tech features.

The thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel is becoming a Kia trademark feature and through it the driver can view another element of Kia’s developing design DNA – the ‘three-cylinder’ instrument cluster. Similar to the cluster fitted to the latest version of Magentis and the recently-launched Kia Soul, the new Kia Sorento’s cluster has clear and precise graphics.

Depending on the model, new Kia Sorento will be equipped with a six, eight or 10-speaker audio system, with MP3 and iPod connectivity, plus built-in or external amplifier and a new sat-nav system with a 6.5-inch screen. Remote controls for the audio system are mounted on the steering wheel.

The longer bodyshell created for new Kia Sorento ensures that the stretched cabin is much more spacious than the current model, with seating for up to seven people. Interior headroom is increased by 64 mm (to 906 mm) and legroom by 102 mm (to 795 mm). Luggage space in the new Sorento is amongst the best-in-class as cargo capacity is increased by 15per cent, thanks to moving the tailgate back by almost 70 mm.

During the design and engineering process to create the new Sorento, Kia’s research and development team prioritized achieving a major improvement in the vehicle’s refinement and minimizing its noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). An excellent foundation for creating a vehicle with good NVH qualities is a stiff bodyshell structure and the new Kia Sorento features a much higher percentage (70.4per cent) of high-tensile strength steel compared to the previous model (40.0per cent).

Kia’s all-new Sorento will be manufactured with up to four different engines to meet the needs of motorists in every region of the globe.

For the Korean market, Kia is offering the new Kia Sorento with three engines, including a version of its 2.7-litre V6 engine running on low-cost LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) called the ‘Mu LPI’. This unit delivers 165 ps and 244 Nm – the reduced outputs are a consequence of using LPG which contains 25% less ‘stored energy’. New Kia Sorento will also be available in the Korean market with the four-cylinder 2.4-litre Theta II petrol engine that delivers 175 ps and 225 Nm, as well as the new four-cylinder R2.2 diesel engine.

The all-new ‘R’ family of turbo-diesel engines proves that Kia’s engineering capabilities are indeed world-class. The 2.2-litre engine comfortably out-performs most four-cylinder and many V6 units from rival brands, while complying with Euro 5 emissions standards thanks to their third-generation common-rail fuel system. The R2.2 generates a maximum of 197 ps and 435 Nm.

New Kia Sorento buyers will be offered a wide choice of transmissions and drivetrains – depending on model. Five-speed and six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will be offered. Both six-speed transmissions are new or upgraded.

Kia’s all-new six-speed automatic transmission is a regular ‘torque converter’ automatic, but it incorporates a unique ‘flat’ torque converter, which allows the unit to be 54 mm shorter, has 62 fewer parts (than a five-speed unit), weighs 12 kgs less and boosts fuel economy by up to 12per cent over a traditional automatic transmission.

New Kia Sorento buyers can select from two advanced drivetrains to ‘best-match’ the on-road and off-road abilities of their new Kia vehicle to their lifestyle. The 2WD drivetrain offers lower weight and enhanced fuel economy, while the 4WD drivetrain will be ideal for buyers who regularly face difficult driving conditions, tow trailers (weighing up to 2,500 kilos, depending on model) or go off-road.

Traction is also boosted by the available HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) which prevents the vehicle slipping backwards, and DBC (Down-hill Brake Control) that limits vehicle speed to just 5 mph on steep declines.

For the new Kia Sorento, the suspension engineers’ brief was to shift the handling bias a little to improve the on-road driving experience, in terms of ride quality and steering ‘feel’ – whilst retaining the vast majority of the previous model’s off-road abilities. The suspension has been lowered by 10 mm and thanks to the new unitary (monocoque) bodyshell construction the centre of gravity has been lowered by 54 mm.

The MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension is ‘carried over’ from the previous model, but with significant improvements. The steering is now more direct, requiring fewer turns of the wheel lock-to-lock.

For maximum stopping power, all new Kia Sorento models are equipped with an all-disc braking system. Either as standard or an option, ABS anti-lock and EBD brake force distribution systems are available.

New Kia Sorento presents buyers with a range of state-of-the-art safety systems and equipment as standard or as options – depending on market. Active safety technologies that buyers can specify include ESC, HAC, DBC, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) and RPAS (Rear Parking Assist System), plus several systems to boost braking performance during extreme conditions.

Reversing is made even safer by a new Kia Reversing Safety Camera mounted on the tailgate. This camera is fitted with a 130 degree wide-angle lens and transmits images to a 3.5-inch LCD display panel set within the cabin’s rear view mirror whenever reverse gear is selected.

New Kia Sorento’s robust all-new bodyshell structure delivers increased impact resistance. Using a much higher percentage (70.4per cent) of high-tensile strength steel the new vehicle achieves excellent rigidity and strength. Particular attention was paid to the B-pillar areas, with a roll-over hoop incorporated into the B-pillars and much stronger (60 kg grade) steel is used in the side sills.

The new Kia Sorento bodyshell is designed to achieve the top-score 5-Star rating in Europe’s EuroNCAP and the USA’s current official NHTSA crash tests, plus a ‘Good’ rating (again the top-score) in IIHS tests for both frontal and side impacts.

Kia Ceed (2010)

Kia-Ceed

Kia-Ceed

Kia Motors has released the first pictures of new Kia cee’d, revealing a much improved and updated look including the new ‘family face’ of the brand.

This mid-life change unusually includes sheet metal changes to the bonnet plus alterations to the bumper, grille and light clusters. There have been some enhancements to the interior too in terms of specification and design including a more intuitive centre console and upgraded audio system including Bluetooth connectivity.

Paul Philpott, Managing Director Kia Motors (UK) Limited commented; “Since its launch just over a year and a half ago, Kia cee’d has been instrumental in placing Kia firmly as one of the top five global automakers. With over 5,000 units already sold in the UK so far this year, Kia cee’d is currently holding a four per cent share of the retail market.

“Kia cee’d has been one of the first Kia models customers have bought for emotional rather than practical reasons. Now we have other aspirational cars in the range, such as the new Soul, we are establishing a clear image as a design led brand and, with more new introductions due early next year, Kia offers one of the youngest product ranges available” he added.

New Kia cee’d will be unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show alongside two all-new Kia models.

2010 Kia Sportage SUV

kia-sportageIn the past year alone Kia’s lineup has grown to include three different SUV models as well as the stylish Forte sedan and Soul hatchback, all while improving quality levels and maintaining the brand’s tradition of affordability. This rollercoaster of product launches doesn’t show any signs of slowing, even with the current economic crisis, with both a new Sorrento and Sportage due for release by the end of the year.

While the 2010 Kia Sorrento SUV has already been revealed thanks to a premature leak earlier this month, the final design for the next-generation Sportage is still clouded in mystery. A prototype for the vehicle has been spotted testing in Northern Europe ahead of a planned market launch in the U.S. in the later stages of the year.

The images reveal the Sportage will retain the boxy styling of the current model, though there will be some sportier and more distinct elements.

The redesigned SUV will be available with a range of new four-cylinder engines as well as a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic. A 2.0L turbodiesel will also be offered for European market, and while the U.S. will miss out on this powerplant a more powerful petrol V6 engine will be offered in its place.

Kia VG

Kia-vg

Kia-vg

Kia Motors has released the first images of its new premium saloon due to go on sale in Korea at the end of 2009.

The new model, currently known by its code name Kia VG, was shown in concept form at the 2009 Seoul Motor Show and is set to replace the existing Opirus model in Korean, North American and European markets.

“Kia VG clearly demonstrates the next stage in Kia’s design evolution and showcases our new design principle of ‘sophistication by simplicity’. The exterior is a seamless blend of powerful front, sleek profile and sophisticated but simple rear lines to create an elegant and luxurious appearance,” commented Hyoung Keun Lee, Senior Executive Vice President and COO of International Business Division at Kia Motors Corporation.

Kia Sorento (2010)

Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento

Longer and lower, the new Kia Sorento brings sleek styling and a futuristic touch to the world of the urban CUV. With its longer front overhang, wedge profile, crisply defined greenhouse and accentuated wheelarch volumes, Kia’s new CUV looks thoroughly modern and sporty.

The 4.7-metre long new Kia Sorento moves vehicle design in this segment up to a new level of sophistication.

As part of Kia’s drive to expand market coverage with its latest CUV, the new Kia Sorento will be manufactured with a total of four engines – with different engines being available in various regions around the world in order to best suit local requirements and with CO2 emissions from just 173 g/km.

The original Kia Sorento was a ‘landmark’ vehicle which took the Korean brand into a whole new section of the automotive market all around the world. Introduced in 2002, it marked a huge step for Kia, challenging many established 4×4 and SUV brands and starting the process of changing public perception of Kia as a ‘maker of small cars.’

Now, under the direction of Kia’s Chief Design Officer (CDO), Peter Schreyer, the Kia design team aimed to deliver futuristic styling with a bold sense of power and dynamism, to once again differentiate Kia’s larger CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) from potential rivals by incorporating Kia’s new design DNA.

// // “The dynamic design of new Kia Sorento adopts simple, linear lines to create a powerful, yet polished appearance. Sporty and striking, the new Kia Sorento represents a new breed of vehicle,” commented Peter Schreyer, CDO of Kia Motors Corporation.

Bold frontal styling incorporates Kia’s new ‘signature grille’ that blends seamlessly into the new Kia Sorento’s four-light, black bezel wrap-around headlamps. The profile’s rising upper belt-line and the dynamic bevel treatment beneath the greenhouse plus the unique trapezoid C-Pillar adds tension and endows new Sorento with a unique appearance. Extending the rear window to the outer edges of the simply styled tailgate hints at the spacious cabin and the large tail lamps enhance the sporty appearance.

During the development of the new Sorento, Kia engineers ditched the body-on-frame structure and designed an all-new unitary (monocoque) bodyshell with room for up to seven occupants. Building on those new foundations, they concentrated on eight key areas – class-leading performance, increased fuel economy, reduced emissions, improved on-road handling, more fun-to-drive responsiveness, greater cabin space and comfort, enhanced overall safety and the introduction of new technologies.

The original Kia Sorento earned widespread media and public acclaim for its innovative styling, durability, off-road abilities and value-for-money. Since 2002 it has attracted thousands of customers who had not previously considered buying a Kia and achieved global sales of almost 900,000 units.

“With the new Sorento, we have created an all-new, seven-seater CUV that will soon be recognized as an ‘exciting all-rounder’ with a much broader customer appeal,” commented Hyoung-Keun Lee, Senior Executive Vice President & COO of the International Business Division. “Despite the current economic uncertainties, we are confident that the new Kia Sorento will significantly increase Kia’s share of the CUV market, achieving annual global sales of 140,000 units from 2010.”

The new, longer bodyshell created for the new Kia Sorento, with its repositioned A-pillars and dashboard (moved forwards) and extended tailgate (moved rearwards), ensures that the cabin is much more spacious than the current model. The real and perceived quality of the cabin is greatly enhanced and available high-tech features will include: keyless entry, engine start button, reversing safety camera, built-in sat-nav and panoramic glass sunroof.

The new Kia Sorento’s interior styling echoes the sense of power and dynamism created by the exterior appearance. Kia is confident that existing Sorento owners and new customers will be equally impressed by the cabin’s generous proportions, sweeping dashboard design, high-quality fit, discreet trim accents and the availability of numerous high-tech features.

The thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel is becoming a Kia trademark feature and through it the driver can view another element of Kia’s developing design DNA – the ‘three-cylinder’ instrument cluster. Similar to the cluster fitted to the latest version of Magentis and the recently-launched Kia Soul, the new Kia Sorento’s cluster has clear and precise graphics.

Depending on the model, new Kia Sorento will be equipped with a six, eight or 10-speaker audio system, with MP3 and iPod connectivity, plus built-in or external amplifier and a new sat-nav system with a 6.5-inch screen. Remote controls for the audio system are mounted on the steering wheel.

The longer bodyshell created for new Kia Sorento ensures that the stretched cabin is much more spacious than the current model, with seating for up to seven people. Interior headroom is increased by 64 mm (to 906 mm) and legroom by 102 mm (to 795 mm). Luggage space in the new Sorento is amongst the best-in-class as cargo capacity is increased by 15per cent, thanks to moving the tailgate back by almost 70 mm.

During the design and engineering process to create the new Sorento, Kia’s research and development team prioritized achieving a major improvement in the vehicle’s refinement and minimizing its noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). An excellent foundation for creating a vehicle with good NVH qualities is a stiff bodyshell structure and the new Kia Sorento features a much higher percentage (70.4per cent) of high-tensile strength steel compared to the previous model (40.0per cent).

Kia’s all-new Sorento will be manufactured with up to four different engines to meet the needs of motorists in every region of the globe.

For the Korean market, Kia is offering the new Kia Sorento with three engines, including a version of its 2.7-litre V6 engine running on low-cost LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) called the ‘Mu LPI’. This unit delivers 165 ps and 244 Nm – the reduced outputs are a consequence of using LPG which contains 25% less ‘stored energy’. New Kia Sorento will also be available in the Korean market with the four-cylinder 2.4-litre Theta II petrol engine that delivers 175 ps and 225 Nm, as well as the new four-cylinder R2.2 diesel engine.

The all-new ‘R’ family of turbo-diesel engines proves that Kia’s engineering capabilities are indeed world-class. The 2.2-litre engine comfortably out-performs most four-cylinder and many V6 units from rival brands, while complying with Euro 5 emissions standards thanks to their third-generation common-rail fuel system. The R2.2 generates a maximum of 197 ps and 435 Nm.

New Kia Sorento buyers will be offered a wide choice of transmissions and drivetrains – depending on model. Five-speed and six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will be offered. Both six-speed transmissions are new or upgraded.

Kia’s all-new six-speed automatic transmission is a regular ‘torque converter’ automatic, but it incorporates a unique ‘flat’ torque converter, which allows the unit to be 54 mm shorter, has 62 fewer parts (than a five-speed unit), weighs 12 kgs less and boosts fuel economy by up to 12per cent over a traditional automatic transmission.

New Kia Sorento buyers can select from two advanced drivetrains to ‘best-match’ the on-road and off-road abilities of their new Kia vehicle to their lifestyle. The 2WD drivetrain offers lower weight and enhanced fuel economy, while the 4WD drivetrain will be ideal for buyers who regularly face difficult driving conditions, tow trailers (weighing up to 2,500 kilos, depending on model) or go off-road.

Traction is also boosted by the available HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) which prevents the vehicle slipping backwards, and DBC (Down-hill Brake Control) that limits vehicle speed to just 5 mph on steep declines.

For the new Kia Sorento, the suspension engineers’ brief was to shift the handling bias a little to improve the on-road driving experience, in terms of ride quality and steering ‘feel’ – whilst retaining the vast majority of the previous model’s off-road abilities. The suspension has been lowered by 10 mm and thanks to the new unitary (monocoque) bodyshell construction the centre of gravity has been lowered by 54 mm.

The MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension is ‘carried over’ from the previous model, but with significant improvements. The steering is now more direct, requiring fewer turns of the wheel lock-to-lock.

For maximum stopping power, all new Kia Sorento models are equipped with an all-disc braking system. Either as standard or an option, ABS anti-lock and EBD brake force distribution systems are available.

New Kia Sorento presents buyers with a range of state-of-the-art safety systems and equipment as standard or as options – depending on market. Active safety technologies that buyers can specify include ESC, HAC, DBC, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) and RPAS (Rear Parking Assist System), plus several systems to boost braking performance during extreme conditions.

Reversing is made even safer by a new Kia Reversing Safety Camera mounted on the tailgate. This camera is fitted with a 130 degree wide-angle lens and transmits images to a 3.5-inch LCD display panel set within the cabin’s rear view mirror whenever reverse gear is selected.

New Kia Sorento’s robust all-new bodyshell structure delivers increased impact resistance. Using a much higher percentage (70.4per cent) of high-tensile strength steel the new vehicle achieves excellent rigidity and strength. Particular attention was paid to the B-pillar areas, with a roll-over hoop incorporated into the B-pillars and much stronger (60 kg grade) steel is used in the side sills.

The new Kia Sorento bodyshell is designed to achieve the top-score 5-Star rating in Europe’s EuroNCAP and the USA’s current official NHTSA crash tests, plus a ‘Good’ rating (again the top-score) in IIHS tests for both frontal and side impacts.

2010 Kia Forte Koup SX First Drive

2010-kia-forte-koup-Mother Nature needs an attitude adjustment. We flew halfway across the planet and endured a gut-wrenching bout of food poisoning to drive the 2010 Kia Forte Koup in Seoul, Korea, only to have our driving time coincide with torrential rains, the likes of which are seen there but once or twice a year.

The deluge created gridlock in downtown Seoul and a timid pace on the flooded freeways. We plodded along washed-out byways with the Koup’s wipers set on full kill, straining to see the taillights of the motorist a dozen car lengths ahead of us. This was at noon.

Kia’s first-ever coupe body style deserves a better first go than this.

The Metal’s Mettle
All is not lost, however, as any seat time is better than none.

Developed primarily for the North American market, the 2010 Kia Forte Koup shares its 104.3-inch wheelbase with its sedan counterpart introduced earlier this year. It’s lower and shorter, and none of the coupe’s sheet metal is carried over from the sedan save for the hood. The Koup’s basic footprint emulates that of the Honda Civic coupe and Scion tC, which, not coincidentally, are what Kia reckons will be the Koup’s main competitors.

Obvious stylistic influences from the Honda Civic are evident in the Koup’s furrowed face, but it’s no copycat. Styled in the elaborate, well-equipped design studio at Kia Motors America in Irvine, California, the Koup has a chunky aggression that sets it apart from its rivals. Its confident presence reveals none of the awkwardness that plagues the styling of many modern Korean cars, and the striking Koup is proof that inexpensive cars don’t have to look dowdy.

Two trim levels, EX and SX, will be available when the 2010 Kia Forte Koup goes on sale in late August of this year. The EX carries a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque. You have your choice of a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic, but either way you’ll get 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway.

The SX model offers a bit more sport. It steps up to a 2.4-liter four that fizzes up 173 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. When you choose the six-speed manual gearbox, you’ll get 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway. If you choose the five-speed automatic, you get 23 mpg city/31 mpg. The suspension is firmed up, the wheels grow to 17 inches, 215/45R17 tires are fitted and subtle body trimmings are added.

Pricing is yet to be finalized, though the Koup will likely eclipse the sedans slightly. Figure on base prices including destination of about $17,250 for the EX and $18,650 for the SX.

Not Quite a Wet Blanket
Through the smashing rain it’s impossible to hear the voices in our head, much less discern nuances like road noise. A pause in the downpour while at a stoplight, though, reveals a rorty exhaust note. Kia’s brass tells us that the engineering staff focused on enhancing the lower frequencies in the development of the Koup’s engine sound compared to the sedan.

Because the 2010 Kia Forte Koup’s 2,849-pound curb weight is within a few cantaloupes of the sedan, acceleration to 60 mph remains in the mid-7-second range. The engine is decently peppy but doesn’t beg to be driven hard. You’ll find yourself reaching for the shift lever well before redline at 6,500 rpm.

The drive-by-wire throttle calibration could use a rethink. There’s so much manipulation going on that it’s impossible to smoothly creep forward in Seoul’s plentiful stop-and-go traffic. Driveline lash from the soft engine mounts is likely what this throttle mapping is attempting to offset.

Furthermore, successfully rev-matched downshifts are stymied as the engine hangs onto revs between gearchanges and doesn’t respond crisply to throttle blips. This crummy throttle response really dulls the impression of sportiness in an otherwise acceptable powertrain.

Poking and Prodding
We have no qualms about the driving position afforded by the SX’s tilt-and-telescoping wheel and height-adjustable seat. With these niceties, even guys taller than 6 feet will have headroom in front. The cabin is roomy if plain-jane, finished in subdued hard plastics arranged in a way that lacks the personality of the Koup’s sheet metal. Fortunately, outward visibility is excellent, since the styling hasn’t fallen victim to the recent craze of beltlines you need a periscope to see over.

To the left of the steering wheel are a curious-looking flip-down control knob and two buttons. This, of course, is the interface for the LED lights that ring the speaker grilles in the interior door panels. You can set the brightness of these red halos and even allow them to pulse to the beat of the music. (We’re not making this up.)

Clambering into the backseat would benefit from a memory tilt-slide feature of the front seat to ease access and preserve the seat position. There is a surprising amount of legroom in the backseat, though headroom feels the pinch of the coupe’s roof line being 2.4 inches lower than the sedan. The rear seatback is of the 60/40 split-folding variety that, alas, lacks a center armrest.

These two missteps stand in contrast to the Koup’s list of features that includes Bluetooth, USB and aux jacks, keyless entry and satellite radio. Leather and a sunroof are also available. Those funky speaker lights just like those of the Kia Soul? Standard on the SX.

Fewer Doors, More Sport
Though the Koup’s MacPherson strut front and twist-beam rear suspension layout is fundamentally similar to the sedan, Kia engineers have given the Koup a more sporting calibration. The Koup’s dampers and antiroll bars have been pumped up for a more buttoned-down demeanor, and revised front control arms provide increased steering caster to give the feel of the helm more substance.

Our fully equipped, top-shelf SX tester is agreeably taut without spoiling the ride. Only the lumpiest pavement threatens to upset the Koup’s composure. And sure enough, the Koup’s body stays nicely flat when you bend it into a sweeper. The weight of the hydraulic-assisted steering is just right, too, with the kind of precision that reminds us of a Honda.

A light brush of the brakes is all it takes to shed speed — the Koup’s middle pedal is almost too responsive at the top of its stroke. Among the free-for-all known as Seoul’s traffic, brake behavior of this sort is something of a mixed blessing.

Beyond these cursory impressions we’ll reserve judgment about the Koup’s willingness to wriggle until one shows up at our office for a full test.

Clearing, With a Chance of Horsepower
Kia wants to shed its cheap-and-cheerful image and metamorphose into an automaker with which driving enthusiasts can identify. The 2010 Kia Forte Koup shows the company pivoting around to face the right direction, and it offers more style than you’d typically find at its price point. Not quite a Civic Si with money on the roof, the Koup is more of a base Civic coupe with a twinkle in its eye.

So the obvious question is whether a true performance variant of the Koup in the vein of the Si is in the cards. When pressed, Kia’s marketing head replies, “A higher-performance model has not been decided yet. However, we are working on a direct-injected 200-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that would fit in the Koup.”