The 2010 Kia Forte compact sedan serves up a number of technologies that differ from the four-door Spectra it replaces.
"Everything is new, including the name. We've changed the suspension design. It's an all-new platform with all-new engines and all-new gearboxes," Fred Aikins, Senior Product Strategy Manager for Kia Motors America, said at the Kia Forte vehicle launch in Seattle, WA, in early June.
Forte's unibody structure has an independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar. Spectra's independent, dual-link struts with coil springs and stabilizer bar rear suspension is replaced by a torsion beam rear suspension with struts and coil springs on the Forte.
The front-wheel-drive Forte's base engine is a 2.0-L DOHC four-cylinder unit producing 156 hp (116 kW) and 144 lb·ft (195 N·m), while the up-level 2.4-L inline four-cylinder delivers 173 hp (129 kW) and 168 lb·ft (228 N·m). Spectra's 2.0-L DOHC inline four provided 138 hp (102 kW) and 136 lb·ft (184 N·m) when mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
"The 2.0-L is unique to the Forte as it is not used in any other Kia vehicle right now," said Aikins. "The 2.4-L is shared with a number of other vehicles, including the Kia Optima midsize sedan and the Kia Rondo sport-utility vehicle."
Forte offers a standard five-speed manual transmission and an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission on the LX and EX models, while the Forte SX comes with a standard six-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic. "The six-speed manual transmission is a first for the Kia lineup," Aikins said. All Forte transmissions were developed in South Korea at Kia's Namyang R&D center.
Kia debuts a fuel economy package on the Forte. "This package adds a five-speed automatic transmission, electric-motor-driven power steering, a smart alternator—meaning it only charges the battery when it needs to be charged—silica-enhanced tires from Hankook and Nexen to reduce rolling resistance, as well as underbody aerodynamic enhancements," said Aikins.
Kia engineers opted to increase the high-strength steel usage on the Forte. "We're extensively using high-strength steels to make the body more rigid and much stronger," said Aikins. "And high-strength steels are being used for side-impact protection, including the side sills and the B-pillars. Sixty-three percent of the Forte unibody is made from high-strength steels. You'll see a greater use of high-strength steels in future Kia models."
Forte, which shares its 104.3-in (2649-mm) wheelbase with the Hyundai Elantra, has been designed and engineered to be "the core volume model going forward," according to Michael Sprague, Vice President of Marketing for Kia Motors America.
"The 2010 Forte is really a radical departure for us from what the Spectra was. We took the best of the Spectra in terms of its attributes and roominess, value, and warranty, and we built upon that strong foundation by adding a unique sense of style—thanks to our California design center—and more powerful engines for class-leading horsepower and class-leading fuel economy," said Aikins.