Well, in an uncharacteristic attempt to be positive we will say this: at least the sleek exterior styling and reflective vest-colored paint job helps us momentarily forget it’s a Kia…
Officially unveiled in standard ICE form at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show back in February, the HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) variant of the 4-door Kia Forte received its big debut today with its inaugural appearance in Korea. Powered by the same hybrid propulsion system found beneath the hood of the Hyundai Elantra, the Kia Forte LPI Hybrid receives its propulsion from a 144-horsepower 1.6L liquefied petroleum injected (LPI) engine, a small 20-hp electric motor, and an advanced lithium-polymer battery pack. Mated to a continuously variable transmission, the Kia Forte LPI boasts a fuel-consumption average of around 41 mpg and, interestingly enough, appears to be edging in on the Chevy Volt’s territory. According to sources, the Forte LPI’s lithium battery pack is produced by LG Chem, the same company charged with supply the battery pack for the upcoming Chevy Volt. What’s more, when the new Kia Forte LPI hits the market in late summer, it was effectively become the first lithium-polymer powered vehicle in the world to reach mass production.
With both a plug-in hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicle also currently in development, Kia has hinted that the Forte LPI Hybrid is but a small part of what is ultimately intended to be an aggressive presence in the global hybrid car market. Details surrounding official launch European and North American dates are still fuzzy, however, with guesses ranging anywhere from 2010 to 2012. Although we personally care very little, we’ll keep you updated as more information is released.