A decade ago, the idea of a small, economical KIA sedan taking on an Audi of any kind would have been laughable. Laugh not, however, as modern KIAs have not only just improved for cars in their price ranges but have improved to the point of being able to hang with premium competition. Take the KIA Stinger, for instance, which is a proper Audi S4 challenger. Now, you can add the KIA Forte to the list, as Kelley Blue Book just compared it to the Audi A3.
In this test, we get to see how both the 2020 Audi A3 (current model, not the new one just yet) and 2020 KIA Forte compete when you consider all things; price, equipment levels, driving engagement, performance and efficiency.
Both cars come with pretty spartan entry-level trims, with their entry-level engines. So the A3 gets a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder, making 184 horsepower and 222 lb-ft of torque. While the Forte gets a 2.0 liter naturally-aspirated four with 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. The Audi gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and the Forte gets a six-speed manual. Both cars are front-wheel drive to start.
However, both cars also have upgraded versions. For the Audi A3, it’s a 2.0 liter turbo-four with 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. While the Forte gets a 1.6 liter turbocharged four-pot with 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque.
Obviously, the Audi is the more premium, more luxurious car of the two. That said, the Forte isn’t bad by any means and it’s significantly cheaper and comes with a much better warranty. The A3 is more fun to drive and sportier but the differences in this segment aren’t huge.
The answer as to which you should buy really comes down to you. If you care about how you’re seen, what you’re seen driving and what badge is on your key in the bowl of your friend’s get-together, then get the Audi A3. It’s more premium, more fun to drive and certainly more stylish. However, the KIA Forte is a really good little car that offers a lot of the same driving dynamics and comfort, with more equipment, for far less money and offers a better warrant. So, in reality, it’s the KIA Forte that’s the better car for the money. Plus, it can be had with a manual.