Kia Cerato Forte 1.6 SX, Chevrolet Cruze5 Sportback 1.6 Review
Hatch match

Story and Photos by Joe Yeo
16 Dec 2011

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.

Introduction, styling

Hatchbacks are generally not only more stylish than notchback saloon models but are also more practical. Fold the rear seatbacks down in a hatchback and there will not be a bulkhead in the way like there is usually in a four-door saloon model when loading long and cumbersome items. With the hatchback, the extended load area that was the rear passenger compartment with the rear seatbacks up is unobstructed for one’s loading convenience. It is precisely this reason why the average European family car buyer prefer hatchbacks like the ubiquitous Volkswagen Golf and Opel Astra rather than notchback saloon models like the Jetta.

Things are a tad different here in Singapore though – traditionally, Singapore follows the trends of emerging markets like India, Russia and China among others to prefer four-door sedan models over hatchbacks. In recent years though, hatchbacks have grown in acceptance with local car buyers, especially the younger set who want something more stylish and looks less ‘ah pek’ in image.

Local car distributors are obviously aware of the recent increase in demand for hatchback models and have started offering five-door hatchback body styles of popular saloon models. The latest popular saloon derived hatchback model is the Chevrolet Cruze5 Sportback. The new model though, has plenty of competitors in its price range, one of which is the Kia Forte hatchback, a model that was only introduced earlier this year. How then, will these two Korean hatchbacks fare against each other in a twin test? Let’s find out.

Styling wise, the Forte hatchback is similar to the saloon bar the roof, alloy wheel designs (you’d have to squint to note that the hatchback’s 17-inch alloys have slightly thinner spokes than the saloon’s) and all panels aft of the rear door. There’s a bit of the Audi A3 Sportback in the stance, especially at the rear where the shape of the Kia’s tail lamps and rear windscreen echo that of the Audi’s. The Audi influence is hardly surprising as Kia design chief Peter Schreyer is an ex-Audi man. The C-pillar treatment is pretty neat indeed – definitely prettier than the awkward ones on recent Japanese hatchback models like the Subaru Impreza and Lexus CT200h as well as the somewhat clumsy looking Cruze5 here.

 With its sizable roof spoiler and deep rear bumper with a mock diffuser painted in black underneath and a chrome exhaust tip sticking out, the Forte hatchback cuts a sporty look. With a more curvaceous rear than the slightly chiseled boot line of the saloon model and a more gently sloping roofline, the hatchback looks a tad softer and more organic in profile than the saloon. Moreover, the hatch doesn’t come with the saloon’s dealer fitted aero kit, which makes the latter look even edgier than the hatchback’s softer lines.

Next to the petite looking Kia, the new Cruze5 looks almost gargantuan in comparison, hardly surprising indeed as the four-door Cruze is actually a sizable saloon model and is one of the biggest cars in the class. Up front, the Cruze5 shares its sheetmetal with the saloon, which means it shares the latter’s prominent front grille and large headlamps. Its styling does start to get clumsy and heavy as you go towards the rear as the Chevy’s designers haven’t successfully hidden the Cruze’s generously proportioned dimensions. At 4543mm in length, the Cruze5 is just 54mm shorter than the saloon and a significant 213mm longer than its Kia rival here. The rear end styling somehow looks unresolved and correct me if I’m wrong, there’s a bit of the Proton Gen.2 in the styling of the tail lamps and tailgate.  All in all, the new Cruze5’s looks are just not as well proportioned as its saloon sibling and its styling doesn’t look as resolved as the dynamic looking five-door Kia Forte here.

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