In something of a surprise reveal (at least to us), Kia showed the new K3 compact sedan in Mexico City. The K3 is a name not known in the U.S. or even Mexico for that matter, but in South Korea, it’s the name used on the Forte. As such, this sedan and the new nameplate will likely supplant the Forte in Mexico, and quite likely here, too.
The design is much more distinctive than the current Forte, and it borrows significantly from the larger K5. The nose has a thin, wide grille with headlights that blend into it. The daytime running lights zig-zag down the sides of the front bumper. The whole front end also looks a bit longer and more horizontal. The greenhouse of the K3 is very much that of the K5, but scaled down. It’s a fastback shape, and the lines of the chrome trim and roof trim intersect nicely. The rear quarter window like on the current Forte and the K5 also sticks around. And at the back, the K3 keeps a full-width taillight, but it looks more unified than the Forte’s.
The interior is cleaned up compared to the Forte. The digital instrument cluster and infotainment screen (the latter of which can be a 10.25-inch display) are part of one connected monolith of a housing, and it sits atop a clutter-free dash. Outboard air vents are hidden in the stylized panel that wraps around behind the screen cluster, while the inboard ones still stand out in the middle of the dash. Below that are the dedicated climate and sound system controls. The K3 also picks up the two-spoke steering wheel introduced on the EV6.
Kia did give a small sampling of specs, and there may be some overlap for a U.S.-spec K3. The base engine revealed is a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 121 horsepower and available with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Optionally available would be a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 150 horsepower and a six-speed automatic, or an “export-oriented” 1.4-liter four-cylinder of unknown aspiration and transmission pairing. Assuming the K3 is coming the U.S., we would probably have the 2.0-liter engine as our base option, and it would probably get a CVT instead of the automatic. Odds are the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder currently available in the Forte would be the optional choice, too, probably with a dual-clutch automatic and possibly a manual option.
The K3 goes on sale in some markets in the fourth quarter of this year, with additional ones to follow. The U.S. was never cited specifically, but neither were a variety of markets it will probably be offered in. As such, if it launches in America, it could be toward the end of the year, or sometime next year.