Kia Forte has Stinger looks, loads of tech and a CVT

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The design of the new Forte will still be familiar to those who know the model, but Kia's compact sedan has been given styling cues that were inspired by the Stinger sports sedan, including a fastback-like shape. I guess the 2018 Detroit Auto Show is the place for me to eat my hat.

Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is expected to become standard across the range, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will spread from the top models to all variants.

Apart from Cerato and Stinger, other boosts for Kia's 2018 sales ambitions include updates for Sportage and Optima and a mid-generation overhaul of the Carnival people-mover. The cowl point was also pushed back five inches. It is consequently blessed with a roomier cabin, extra rear legroom and a bigger trunk.

The new-generation Cerato grows in length by 81mm to 4640mm, width has been increased by 17mm to 1798mm, and overall height rises by 13mm to 1440mm.

The new 2.0-litre four-cylinder produces 109kW of power and 179Nm of torque compared to 112kW and 192Nm for the current engine.

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Kia says raising the Forte's fuel efficiency was a top priority, so it is introducing its "Smart Stream" powertrains in the vehicle, with a second generation of Hyundai/Kia's 2.0L Nu 4-cyl., mated to either a 6-speed manual or what Kia is calling an Intelligent Variable Transmission or IVT. "Typically applied to hybrid and electric vehicles, the Atkinson Cycle and cooled EGR technologies are created to help boost fuel efficiency", reports Kia. The automaker worked to ensure its first gearless transmission didn't have a rubber band feel, which resulted in the addition of a "shifting" logic to make it feel like a conventional automatic.

The body in white is 16 per cent stiffer and there are new subframe designs that are claimed to improve lateral responsiveness.

The suspension geometry is tweaked, as is the car's steering, throttle and brake feel, with Kia promising a smoother initial response at tip-in and a shorter stopping distance. Kia wrapped the transmission case in a sound-insulating cover to improve NVH and to ensure that the CVT doesn't get noisy.

The dynamics of the new Cerato sedan have already been tuned for local roads by Kia Australia's own tuning team, led by consultant Graeme Gambold. A new 320 watt Harman Kardon premium audio option also joins the options list for North American vehicles.

"The compact sedan segment is highly competitive, but with all the improvements the new Forte brings to market for the 2019 model year, it is more than prepared to take on the toughest the segment has to offer", said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning for Kia Motors America.

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