Thursday, 11 February 2010
Driven: Naza (Kia) Forte 1.6SX
This is one car that's priced to sell for 2010 in Malaysia. Tagged at RM81,800 it is indeed a value buy for a C-segment saloon, priced even lower - but specified even higher! - than the popular B-segment sedan the ubiquitous Honda City 1.5. Indeed, it would have been even better if Naza-Kia had not crossed the psychological RM80,000 mark for this higher spec 'SX' version of their Forte 1.6.
My first interaction with the steering & throttle reminded me much of the new Mazda3 1.6. Not a bad thing since the handling and body control of that Mazda is much exemplary of its class. Ditto the interior, especially the Forte's instruments cluster. Nice. Without running through the extensive list of standard equipments, the two items that impressed me most is the electronic stability control/program which encompasses ABS + EBD, cornering brake control and traction control. The other feature being the rear view electro-chromatic mirror (auto-dimming) which is even a paying option for Porsche(s) the world over.
Of course, the metallic-rubber studded brake and gas pedals are a nice touch too. You can actually save a few bucks and hassle by not having to hop over to the nearest Brother's Car Accessories shop.
In the three days of testing, the Forte 1.6SX endears with its firm but pliant enough ride. Safe handling rules the day and the vehicle is very easy to live with, powering on with just adequate horses for a 1.6 family sedan.Rear passengers comfort are good, with a calm ride complemented by generous cabin space.
It's rather strange how a better spec version of a similar model can be more affable and convincing, even though the lesser 'sibling' 1.6EX have ABS, twin-airbags and a perfectly similar drivetrain. Perhaps it is the soft-touch inserts on the dashboard or the premium-looking 17" alloys. Or is it the chrome-plated door handles both inside and out? Whatever they may be, don't strike the Forte 1.6SX out prematurely from your car purchase shortlist - without a test drive - if you're in the market for a Nissan Latio sedan, Toyota Vios or Honda City. Yes, it's that good - surprisingly splendid for its class, size and price.