Photography and video by ©2015 Toni Avery

It seems today that more and more automakers are leaving behind the implementation of manual transmissions. Not only are people less interested in learning but more drivers want less to do while operating their vehicle, especially in heavy city traffic.

I’m always impressed when an automaker produces a car where manual transmissions come standard. In Kia’s case, the 2015 Forte Koup SX is that car while also being practical and affordable.

Equipped with a 1.6 L Turbo 4cyl, this Kia produces 201 HP @ 6000RPM and 195 lb-ft of torque at 1750-4500 RPM mated to a six-speed manual transmission and is front wheel drive.

As far as driving dynamics go, the Forte Koup SX leaves much to be desired. It’s not marketed as or intended to be a hardcore sports car, but the fact that it comes standard with a manual transmission alludes to the notion of a relatively sporty car. As mentioned in my video review, the steering felt squirrelly at high-speeds, as if the car was struggling to deliver the steering inputs I fed it. This made me highly uncomfortable taking the car through my local canyon. Even with the available steering mode functions of Sport, Normal and Comfort, none really put my reservations to rest.

It offers a fairly comfortable and quiet ride with hardly any exhaust note to speak of. When you’re at a stop it’s almost electric car quiet. On the plus side the manual transmission is actually surprisingly good. I had some trouble finding the right gear from time to time but overall I thought it was an easy transmission to navigate. The car’s front and rear wheel disc brakes were also a plus, delivering adequate stopping power.

The exterior of the SX features some unique design cues and sporty styling. The faux carbon-fiber accents at the front and rear of the car as well as the standard 18’ alloy wheels offer a hint of sporty flair. The rear is the best angle on the car with a clear view of the standard dual exhaust pipes.

Inside the SX are various tech features including navigation, satellite radio, cruise control, steering mode functions and more. The overall interiors appearance is higher-end than expected with very little hard plastic surfaces.

The unique faux carbon-fiber accents from the exterior are carried through with side piping on the seats and in the eye line of the driver on the dash. The seats are fairly comfortable while it feels as though you are sitting on top of them rather than in them. It may just be personal preference but the seating position was so high that I felt as though I was in a high chair, even with the seat as low as it would go. The heated and cooled drivers seat and heated passenger seat offer a bit more luxury to the overall driving experience.

With room enough in the rear for two average size passengers it’s a comfortable car to take long distances or even for short getaways with several small bags or possibly two large ones fitting in the trunk.

The technology this SX was equipped with made its very low $25,335 sticker price even more appealing. Even with navigation, HD radio, Xenon HID headlights, Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control, Supervision Meter Cluster with 4.2’ color LCD all only available in the SX Technology Package, the low additional price of $1900 makes it totally worth it.

The 2015 Kia Forte Koup SX does a lot right. It has so much technology wrapped into a reasonably priced package with lots of room for passengers. It looks great without trying too hard and it comes standard with a manual transmission.

While it doesn’t drive like a dream and actually pushes me towards other similarly prices cars like the Ford Fiesta ST, I really have to hand it to Kia for continuing to produce cars with a proper manual gearbox.

GirlsDriveFastToo gives the 2015 Kia Forte Koup SX an overall rating of (out of 5 total):