Detroit - Kia has unveiled the third generation of its Corolla-rivalling Forte sedan (also badged Cerato in some markets, including ours) and it plays to the callings of that segment with a smoother and more elegant, but still decidedly conservative, external appearance.

Following the usual bigger-and-better path of progression, the new Forte is 8cm longer, 1.8cm wider and 1cm taller than its predecessor, while also being 16 percent stiffer and sporting reworked suspension.

Beneath the bonnet is a revised version of Kia’s 2-litre 'Nu' four-cylinder engine, featuring Atkinson Cycle technology and a cooled EGR system for improved efficiency. Outputs are pegged at 110kW and 179Nm.

The engine can be paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an all-new, in-house-designed continuously variable transmission. Kia has sought to banish many of the annoying traits usually associated with a CVT by employing a chain-type belt and adaptive shift-style to avoid that ‘rubber band’ feel and gave the transmission a sound-insulating cover to mask the drone.

The Forte’s interior takes a step upmarket with a simpler and more horizontal design, more soft-touch surfaces and a standard 20.3cm ‘floating’ colour touchscreen featuring Android Auto and CarPlay. Buyers can also order a 320-watt Harmon Kardon premium sound system for the first time.

New driver-assisting gadgets include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and adaptive cruise control.

Although the South African on-sale date has yet to be set in stone, Kia SA says it’s working towards an introduction late in the third quarter of this year.

Pricing and specs, as always, when it lands.

IOL Motoring