Heart and Seoul: The Only Bagged Kia Forte in the World
To be completely honest, I didn’t expect much from this KIA when it was first posted by Carlos Villanueva on our local Atlanta forum. Carlos had recently traded in his light modified Suzuki Aerio for the black Koup, and seemed to have serious ambition for the humble Forte.
The car quickly moved through several sets of wheels in a period of a few months, but it never really found an identity for itself until he dropped the car on a set of Konig Remembers. The forums, of course, were brutal. It seemed that for every positive comment, there was that ever annoying qualifier “…for a Kia.” I can only imagine the pain that every KDM auto enthusiast feels in hearing those words; the business professional that picked up a V8 Genesis sedan, the autocrosser that spends his Saturdays racing his turbo Gencoupe, or the owner of one of the new matte silver Velosters. No matter how impressive the car, it must always be discounted.
The idea behind this mindset is the assumption that any Korean car must have been a compromise. Carlos refutes this, claiming “. . .when I saw the Forte Koup, I fell in love. I immediately got it.” He wasted no time on beginning the car’s transformation. Drawing his inspiration from the American stance scene, Carlos purchased parts as soon as they were available for the platform, slowing moving the car closer to ground, and fitting gradually more aggressive wheels. Additionally, he imported as many KDM Cerato parts as he could, giving the coupe subtle visual cues that something was different with this particular model. But air was always part of the plan, he asserts. Having zero aftermarket support though, the kit would have to be completely custom. He took the car to Revolution Customs, who completely chopped up the factory suspension to make the airbags fit. During the shoot, Carlos informed me that there is no way to revert to the stock suspension for this Koup. The rear fenders were also modified to be able to house the 17×10 Work Ryver Touring wheels. There is no going back for this KIA.
As far as this car has come, Carlos isn’t interested in stopping any time soon. There are a new set of wheels on the way, and forced induction in discussion. And perhaps that’s what I might find most inspiring about this car. This KIA is the modern day example of the import underdog. Just as Civic owners were lambasted through the 90s for transforming their econoboxes, Carlos faces that same opposition everyday. They tell him that this is not only the car that couldn’t be modified, but shouldn’t. And perhaps you’re confused by someone that would invest this kind of money into what’s considered by most to be a basic transportation appliance; but that’s what makes this car special. This car wasn’t built to impress you. It’s a product of one man’s attempt to create something entirely new. Carlos’ only expectation from this car is that it serves to inspire other KIA owners to explore their options and do something creative with their cars. I hope it works, because this community could certainly use some fresh air.
Carlos would like to thank the Insane Stance and Offset Atlanta Chapter, Revolution Kustomz, my parents, and my friends Juan, Damien, Anthony and Marus and everyone else whos helped me achieve my goals on this car.
Editor: Andy Carter