Modest Acceleration: A Tale of Two Transmissions?

In the case of the Forte five-door, the added practicality seems to come at the expense of performance. As with the uplevel Forte SX sedan, the SX hatchback comes only with the larger of the Forte’s two available engines, a smooth but rather vocal 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 173 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. (A 156-hp, 2.0-liter four with 144 lb-ft powers Forte EX models, as well as the sedan-only LX base trim.) Our car paired the 2.4-liter with a six-speed automatic, and being an SX model, it also featured steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters—a frill in this segment.

But at the track, the Forte hatch proved slower than the 2010 Forte SX sedan we tested last July, which had the since-replaced five-speed automatic. That four-door took 8.6 seconds to hit 60 mph from a stop; at 3030 pounds, our six-speed Forte five-door is 70 pounds heavier than the sedan but needed an additional 0.3 second to reach the same velocity. The disparity grew as speeds climbed, with the sedan hitting 100 mph in 23.6 seconds versus the five-door’s 25.3. At least it doesn’t feel that slow, owing in part to annoyingly aggressive throttle tip-in. We’ve tested the Forte SX with a six-speed manual transmission in coupe and sedan form, hitting 60 mph in 7.1 and 7.3 seconds, respectively. We’re interested to see how close we could get to those times in a Forte five-door with the stick. Transmission choice doesn’t, however, make a significant difference in fuel economy. The 2.4-liter is rated at 23 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway for the automatic, 22 city and 32 highway for the manual. We achieved 25 mpg in mixed driving.

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