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Kia Cerato Forte 1.6 SX Review: Hatch match

The Cruze range gains a hatch body style in the form of the Cruze5. We pit it against another saloon derived five-door model from Korea.
OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
16 Dec 2011
What we like:
pros
Chevrolet: Spacious interior and boot
pros
composed ride
pros
high levels of standard kit Kia: Well-proportioned looks
pros
well equipped package
pros
smoother gearbox
What we dislike:
cons
Chevrolet: Heavy rear end styling
cons
stubborn gearbox Kia: Engine can sound gruff when stretched
cons
slightly firm ride

With a similar wheelbase of 2650mm as the saloon, the Forte hatchback trumps more expensive saloon competitors like the Toyota Corolla Altis and the Nissan Latio. The Forte’s generous wheelbase equates to a reasonably sized interior, if not as roomy as the more generously proportioned Cruze here. With a longer wheelbase of 2685mm, the Cruze offers noticeably more rear knee room than the Forte. Rear passengers have ample leg and headroom in the Forte but the Cruze offers just a tad more. Surprisingly, despite the Forte’s hatchback’s more elegantly sloping roof, its specs reveal that the hatchback offers 20mm more headroom at the rear than the saloon model.

Up front, the Kia’s modern and contemporary dashboard design is shared with the other Forte models and compliments the handsome exterior. The materials used might not feel like of the highest quality but Kia has taken the trouble to offer a classy interior ambience in the Forte nonetheless thanks to the use of red illumination and well-thought out switchgear. The Cruze’s driving environment doesn’t look or feel as classy as the Kia’s in comparison due to its slightly gaudy blue illumination for the instruments and the use of some low quality switches and controls. The centrally mounted display screen though, lifts perceived luxury levels a tad in the Cruze.

With a length of 4340mm, the Forte hatchback is 190mm shorter overall than the saloon and with similar wheelbases between the two body styles, it means that the hatchback has a shorter rear overhang which translates to a slightly less voluminous boot area than the saloon. Just like the saloon though, the hatchback features 60/40 split/folding rear seats to extend the load area if required. But unlike the saloon, the hatchback offers a more accessible extended load area as it doesn’t have the saloon’s rear bulkhead in the way when loading longer and bigger cargo.

Despite being shorter than the saloon, Chevy quotes the same boot volume figures for both Cruze body styles. This is entirely believable nonetheless as the Cruze5 offers a load area that is wide and long. When compared to the Forte’s load area here, the Cruze hatchback’s boot is not as deep but the Forte's lack the length and width of its rival's trunk here. Just like the Forte, the Cruze5’s load area can further be expanded by folding down the split/fold seatbacks.

In SX trim, the Forte hatchback is comprehensively equipped. It comes with a factory fitted stereo with steering wheel mounted controls, trip computer, reversing aids, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, twin front airbags, ABS, electronic stability control, key less operation a self-dimming rear view mirror and more. The Cruze5 might not offer a self-dimming rear view mirror like the Forte does but it fights back convincingly with the touch screen NavTrak infotainment system. NavTrak not only displays images for the reversing camera but also offers an internal hard disk and more importantly, a feature packed sat nav system, albeit a dealer fitted one.

Each of these two models have their strengths in different areas so deciding which is better is a pretty subjective matter. Those who want a comfortable riding car with decent dynamics and a bigger and more practical interior, the new Cruze5 makes for a better choice while the Forte hatchback is the choice for those who prefer something prettier, performs better and offers a classier interior ambience. Personally for me though, the Kia’s prettier looks is the clincher in this test.

Credits: Story and Photos by Joe Yeo

Kia
Kia Cerato Forte 1.6 SX
Cars in this article
Kia Cerato Forte 1.6 SX (A) 2011
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Kia Cerato Forte 1.6 SX (A) 2011

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