Future competition: Kia Forte (Spectra) & Mazda3

Mazda has just released a few official photos of it’s up-coming Mazda3 replacement. In addition to that, the company also announced it plans to officially unveil it’s hotly anticipated 4-door compact sedan at the 2008 L.A. Auto Show.

If you guys show interest, we are going to look at the car in a few more details after it makes it’s official US debut next month. What we plan to do today is to visually compare the Mazda3 sedan against it’s South Korean opponent, the Kia Forte.

Kia Forte vs. Mazda 3

Both 4-door compact sedan are similar in size and belong to an increasingly popular compact car segment. Starting next year, they will do the battle against each other with an aim to attract as many customers as possible.

With months to come, the all-new Mazda3 will not be the compact sedan to join the battle.

There are many new models, similar in size to Kia Forte, announced to enter the race for U.S. customers. Just for your information, there is a brand-new Chevrolet Cruze about to enter the crowded U.S. market, along with the next-generation VW Jetta.

1. Rear-quarter view on the new Kia Forte & Mazda 3

The Mazda3 looks slightly sportier, while Forte doesn’t seem far behind with its edgier exterior design.



The front-end of the Forte sedan features Kia’s H-signature grille. It looks more simple thant the Mazda3’s front fascia. The later sports a huge air intakes in the bumper area which doesn’t look bad either.



Back at rear, both compact sedan look pretty good. Being Kia fans, we do preffer the styling of the new Forte 4-door over the exterior layout of its Mazda3 rival.

However, we do admit Mazda designers have done the job well and brought a very nicely styled compact car to the market.



Let us know which compact car do you preffer? The all-new Kia Forte or Mazda 3 4-door sedan?

67 thoughts on “Future competition: Kia Forte (Spectra) & Mazda3

  1. yeah, the drivearabia blog also just put up pix a few mins ago. I must say, the 3 is a looker but maz isnt an economy make. they dont worry about prices. and they dont have USB beside the AUX jack. I’ll say more after more people comment.

  2. OK, that full article wasnt there when I posted the above cmment.
    Face: IMO, I feel forte’s angular headlights look better than the mazda’s. the absence of an upper grille makes it look a bit weird. The forte’s face also looks more aggressive but I cant exactly put my finger on what it is that does make it look so. Face design verdict: Forte is better
    Tail: I’ll admit Mazda’s tail lights look great cuz of the clear design for the brake lights unlike other cars that make the whole thing red. besides the tail lights, the forte’s other tail-end elements look better than maz3’s like the 2-tone bumper, no reflectors integrated into the bumper among other things. although I do wish forte also had dual exhaust. Verdict: Forte is better
    Side profile: hmm… tough one. I’ve been looking at the pix for like 3 mins to bring some comments on the side profile. the rear door of the maz3 looks modern as the upper line runs adjacent to the roof and gives more space for entering. the indentation of Forte’s lower body gives some character vs. 3’s curved line on its lower body. not much to say besides that. Verdict: err… I’m confused. even after 3 mins of looking at the pix…

  3. They both look nice to me. I like what they’ve done to the front end of the Mazda as the outgoing models grill turned me off. I’d expect the Kia to be priced better and it has cleaner lines overall. Verdict: I’ll be cross shopping these two vehicles when I’m ready to trade in my Nissan Frontier.

  4. I forgot to add that the Mazda’s 2.0 L motor will be direct injected with 150HP. That should be decent power and good economy (depending on gearing). On a slight tangent, I’m excited to see some really interesting small cars on the horizon for the US. It’s going to be a good time to be a small car enthusiast.

  5. mazda’s engines [which isnt 100% their own engines] have excellent torque. Also want to add my verdict on the side profile: mazda3 looks better.

  6. Do you even have to ask me which I like better? I am a notorious Mazda hater. I’d take a Toyota or Honda before a Mazda. Ugh, yuck! the back look like the new Focus, and it matches the majority of Americans- It has a big fat ass. I hate to say this, but the side of the 3 looks like the Sentra. That is the only reason it looks good from the side.

  7. The 3 is now made to look like the just-released 6. THIS is the new face for Mazda. Now i am a Mazda lover notta hater so i LOVE this new 3. the Forte & 3 are gorgeous each in their own rights. the Forte looks more masculine and sporty whereas the 3 looks more flowy, like the wind is blowing it away. Which that’s what “Nagare” means in Japanese. Nagare is what Mazda is calling their new design language, BTW. It’d be a tough draw but i’d take the Forte, I’m sure.

  8. Mazda side profile looks great, nice side contours, but has a Mondeo look about it from the front, which I think looks a bit dated already. It sure is a nice looking car but I am wondering if there will be any visibility when you are reversing, as that boot looks high as?.
    I think the Forte’s front profile is refreshingly different, as well as the side and rear views. The contours of panels have almost the same elements as the Mazda, but create a completely different looking car. Overall I think the Forte has a sleeker wedge look about it, which I prefer. I will reserve my finally decision to when I see them for real as the actual size of the vehicle is important, I liked the Moneo’s concept photos etc, but its size as a car is way to big for me.

  9. The 3’s face design is already grown on me. I actually like the no upper grille idea. The rear actually looks good but I would like two tone bumper. and the rear door design is also good looking. For a Japanese design, it looks way better than the JAPANESE competition but my taste is european designs with sharper edges and crispier lines. I’m sure if we do a full comparison with features, interior etc except engine, I would choose the forte. I said except engine cuz maz engines which are actually ford engines have got great torque and acceleration will definately be better.

  10. ya know, the maz3 might have a push-button ignition system, 5 or 6 speed auto, paddle shifters among other things. I’m saying this after looking at the 2009 mazda6 which had gone waaaay ahead of its previous gen in terms of features, performance, design etc. should expect the same from the 3 as well.

  11. The new Kia Forte is the winner in my book. Mazda has done a good job with the 3, but, that sweeping smiley-face front end on the 3 doesn’t look right to me. I do like the side profile of the 3, rear is good. It’s just that front grille-headlight cluster thing that doesn’t pull off quite right. The Forte front and rear are muscle-car staunch and look very nice. Forte wins pretty soundly.

  12. Mazda shouldn’t be worried, but they should be a little scared. The engines are not a good thing, because they are machined to tolerances that are different from other manufacturers, and it is like having 200,000 miles on the odometer. That is why those engines aren’t reliable. The front looks very dated, and I don’t like it. I do like the side, but I like the Sentra, though. The back just looks bulky. In a side by side desicion, how could a consumer choose a 3 over the Forte? Less reliable, not as new looking, not as long of a warranty, and more expensive. Sounds like a no-brainer to me!

  13. I dont really like the new Mazdas if i’m honest. My main issues with the 3 is that the rear bumper sticks out too much, the front looks exactly like a Peugeot and the rear lights remind me of the Chrysler Sebring. Come to think about it, theres nothing really unique about the new 3, the front is a Peugeot, the sides are a Lexus IS, and the rear end is a Chrysler Sebring.

  14. Greg, can you decode what you’re trying to say about Mazda’a engines because none of what you said has any basis in reality.

  15. Martin, the same charges have been leveled against the Forte with regard to their use of Honda and Mitsu’s designs and they’re no more valid. Mazda’s design may use some familiar cues, but they’ve bundled it into a package that is instantly recognizable as a Mazda. Based on your observations do you also agree with those people who accuse Kia of completely ripping off the Civic?

    Mazda is another underdog here and their efforts produce some unique vehicles which are also extremely well regarded in the handling department. If anything, I hope that this was taken into consideration when Kia built the Forte. If they can make a car that looks that good, with handling of the Mazda3 then they’ll have really built a special car IMO.

  16. Sorry for 3 posts in a row but I’ve got a Forte related question. Since the Forte has been officially on sale for nearly 2 months are there are road tests or other articles on it yet? I’m really interested to see how well it stacks up against other cars in its segment.

  17. there was a guy [not journalist] whoc went to the showroom and test drove the forte and said the interior materials were too shiney and seemed low quality and short lasting. and Greg, I dont get what you’re saying about the engine. I remember pre -ford-merge mazdas had probs with the engines as we had experienced with 323 but our mazda6 never had engine probs and even now after 4 years, the acceleration is as awesome as it was when we got it new and like bancho said, even the forte’s lines aren’t totally original. and even the civic design isnt very new at this point to say the design of maz3 looks old. SO MANY curves show a futuristic design. But I can understand that everyone’s got different tastes. So anyway, I guess I like the Maz3 a tad bit more than forte.

  18. The Forte has a dynamic and sporty design, but my problem with it is the front fascia. It looks somehow dated already. When comparing the 3 year old civic with Forte, the Forte looks like it was three years old and civic was a new car.
    Don’t get me wrong, I like the Forte very much and would buy it over any compact sedan, including Mazda 3!

  19. now that you mention it himi, it does feel like that cuz the civic had got a clear/untinted lamp cluster even for the turn signal lights whereas forte gets an orange tint for the turn signals. and the civic’s low stance and single chrome strip to decorate the grille makes it look cleaner/modern. wonder how the forte would look with the production soul burner’s grille. A non-tinted lamp cluster for both tail and headlights would look more up to date or full red tail-lights like the soul trio concepts.

  20. Thanks a ton Himi. I pumped that article through the Google translator for some pretty hilarious results (literal translations FTW!). If nothing else, there are some very nice pics to go with the article.

    One definite plus for the Mazda id rear windows that look as if they may be able to go all the way down.

  21. The little english present in the review, along with some common sense, we can tell that the top speed is 182km/h and has a 4 speed AT. did we already know about the 4 speed AT?

  22. Yeah, it has. It’s a very modern car but it features some really old technology (4speed automatic).
    I really don’t get this…
    Perhaps American version will have at least five speed automatic. I know that Chevrolet Cruze will have a six speed automatic.

  23. Ok, what I’m tryingto say is that my dad knows a guy that works at a plant that machines engine blocks. He says that the engines machined for the big 3 are not as precision as the ones machined for “foreign cars”. The ones for the big three are machined in such a way that it is like you are buying a new car with 200,000 miles. I hope that clears that up. The side profile of the Forte looks like a BMW, and many lines are shared. If you want to get pissed at me I’ll give you a legitimate reason to. Frankly…..you know what, if I say it I’ll offend many people. All you people need to think a little more about things, not just skim the surface. If people bought cars for their looks, no one would buy Kias. The majority of people buy cars not because of engines or looks, but because of price, warranty, and functionality. So all of your arguments are kind of stupid. I’ll be sitting here waiting to defend myself, so go ahead, respond……….

  24. Mazda’s not part of the big 3. Ford owns a stake in Mazda but the engines in question are 100% Mazda designed. Your comments regarding the MZR series engines in question are false. The information your father provided does not apply here. It’s great to have a favorite car company and cheer them on but when you carry it to the point of abject ignorance it gets annoying.

    You may or may not have noted that reactions to the Mazda vs. Forte are rather mixed. That’s normal as looks are subjective. I’ll be honest here, I like Kia’s *but* where I live at least, they are just about the manufacturer of last resort for most people. I’ve been watching and noting their steady improvement over time and I’ve got respect for companies that can manage that. If not for that reason alone I wouldn’t have even found this site. It’s sad though when someone is so in love with one particular brand to the point that they really can’t respect the virtues other brands bring to the table. It’s like deciding you like a single flavor and decide that is the one flavor you will enjoy for the rest of your life. It’s every bit as bad as the people who buy only “vanilla” cars as you mentioned in another thread. Get some experience and try some different cars. Broaden your horizons. You’ll be surprised how much there is to see out there.

  25. kudos Bancho. I was kindof the same way when i was approx 15. My first car was bought new when i was 15 & it was Dodge Stratus R/T sedan & for the longest time i worshiped my car & Dodge. Now that i’ve gotten a few years under my belt & owned SEVERAL cars, i know that each has their +’s & -‘s. I still favor Dodge next to Kia just cuz i’ve had great experiences with both & drive a new Dodge now. but basically i’m just saying i agree with u Bancho. I realized i was blabbing & i’m A.D.D. so that happens. lol. toodles!

  26. There are quite a few companies I respect. I respect Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, V.W.(Audi), various other Euro manufacturers(BMW, Mercedes). To a point I respect Honda, Toyota and Nissan, too. The companies I respect the least are mazda, ford, chrysler, and gm, in that order. I have no respect for mazda whatsoever, they are my least favorite, and in my opinion, they make a very ugly car. I cant stand any part of that company. I would be a ford spokesperson just to get out of having anything to do with mazda, I even hate talking about them. They are a waste of steel. And, bancho, you are not a psychologist, so stop trying to be, you don’t know everything. And, if you did some more research, you would find that mazda and ford’s 2.3 liter 4 cylinder was designed jointly by ford and mazda, and the blocks are manufactured to ford specification. Dont try to make me sound like i have no idea what i am talking about. You are as clueless as a baby giraffe! I understand that i’ve been wrong before, many, many times. One particular time was the soul 2.0 2.4 discussion. I am wrong from time to time, but you sir, will say ANYTHING to disprove me. Despicable. Wrong. Dumb.

  27. Ahem… its quiet a… er… discussion going on here. But I totally agree with bancho’s comments. and greg, regarding your comment bout people buying cars cuz of looks etc. Its true, not ev’ry one look at design but look at the article. himi said to compare the ‘surface’ – just the ext. design for the moment. of course in an overall comparison, the Kia would be a smarter choice.

  28. I think that KIA’s design is pretty nicer than the Mazda if we looked at the front grill, it’s artistically inclined, but for the back I think that the designer of this car got bored by reaching to the back, I feel that he just got tired and wanted to finish the car, if he continued the design as he did with the front it would be more attractive than what he came up with, though it still very nice looking car, so
    Front KIA beats Mazda
    Back Mazda beats KIA

  29. hehe, that was funny. got bored as he reached the back. anyway, with the google translator I found out the minimum turning rudius is 5.4 m. Fuel consumption: 14.1 km / ? (16.11 km / ? MT). dont ask for anything else. I couldnt understand what the translator said about the actual article. click on my name if you want to see the translator.

  30. hey forte has made a world debut at the sydney motorshow. it looks beautiful in that blue you can see it in the link below. just paste the link in your address bar and remove spaces I’ve put in the begining.
    h t t p: //carscoop.blogspot.com/2008/10/new-kia-cerato-makes-australian-debut.html

  31. well don’t worry greg. Ford is planning on selling its Stake in Mazda so maybe that’ll help you grow up a little and broaden your horizons. & don’t bother writing a rebuttal, i don’t care. i just thought you’d like to know.

  32. Actually, I look at Mazda as a “blocky, chunky” car body producer. They really can’t hold a candle to Kia’s body styling, even looking back to the 90’s. I respect Mazda about as much as I respect Nissan, they both have proven to a degree that they can produce just above marginal cars. Nissan is helped by Renault and Carlos Ghosn whip-smacking, ROTFLMBO!

  33. Aside from the subjective comments regarding how Mazda’s look, you can’t come up with a single technical reason. Just a hint here, the engine spec comment is wrong, but you’re used to that so it’s cool, right? Mazda’s poorest cars were the result of using Ford’s parts or transmissions. Mazda’s 4 cylinders are very good and that’s one area where Ford has benefitted greatly from their stake in Mazda. Maybe after you grow up a bit you can come sit at the big boy table with the rest of us and talk about things without getting so emotional. I’ll probably chime in from time to time when you make some outrageous unsubstantiated claim again though. Until then remember that at least we share a common liking for Kia’s. I guess that’s something.

  34. No, I’m from the US. I’m just intensely interested in what new small cars we’ve got coming to us. We’re stocked to the gills with large trucks and SUVs but our domestic market for *nice* small cars isn’t quite as good as other parts of the world.

  35. ROFL! What was that comment even about! HAHAHA! Honestly, I don’t care if ford sells mazda, I will never have the tiniest spec of respect for them. I can’t have any respect for someone who makes stupid (yet hilarious) personal attacks.

  36. You’re the one leading the personal attacks Greg. On the other hand, JoshyLofty was the one mentioning that Ford will probably be selling their stake on Mazda. Your comment leaves it unclear which one of us you’re calling the ignorant ass.

  37. **off topic** I just saw the 09 Kia Optima Brochure. It is a knock out with the new front design. Not to mention the ESC is standard like the Sonota now. The ESC is a huge selling feature that will continue to boost Optima Sales with this type of US Economy

  38. Bancho… don’t be a baby giraffe now, ok? :-X

    PS (for Bancho) i, too, am in the US (Dallas, TX) and I’m super curious about the tiny cars we have coming to us. Im pretty excited about the Mazda 2 (shut up, greg) & the Ford Ka coming. Have you heard the new Toyota iQ will come over as a Scion?! I think thats smart as its WAY more Scion-ish than Toyota. Not that i’m interested in any of the above cars cuz i’m set on either soul or forte. I wonder if Kia has any micro-cars coming here we don’t know about… hmmm… I know hyundai is testing the i10 & i20 for our shores tho. so thats something…

  39. Greg: I edited your last post. You know why, you had some nasty talk in it. I do not stand that, and you should know it by now… We can do this debate nice and easy. I want you to express your own opinion but at the same time I also want you to respect others thoughts!

    If this debate keeps going on like that, I’ll have to delete this post.

    :) THANK YOU! himi

  40. Actually, the Mazda2 body design is sort of refreshing. Not bad for Mazda, anyway. Truth that.

  41. i think mazdas are very nice looking. i know we all have different tastes but the new 3 is very nice. i had a 3 when it first came out – in fact, i was on a waiting list for a few months. i loved it. rented an 09 in august in california and its just a brilliant little car. I’d say the 3 is gunna be the biggest match for the forte. the civic is too generic & corolla too boring. but then again thats what this post is about 😉

  42. @JoshyLofty – I’ve read about that. I think the iQ will make a nice fit as a Scion. It gets the brand closer to what it was when they introduced it and it should really give the Smart some solid competition.

    @Bryan – The Mazda2 is an interesting design. It’s not out of the question for Mazda to bring it stateside either since it’s the sister car to the Ford Fiesta which we’ll definitely be seeing. The Fiesta will be nice since it brings Fords European design language to the US in a hopefully “undiluted” state.

  43. I must say, that this is the right car to put forte up against. The corolla is very boring and civic… well, that isnt exactly got the sportiness and then there’s the sentra/sunny which is slightly less boring thatn corolla but still boring. this leaves 3 cars Lancer, Maz3 and Elantra/Avante. we’ll rule out the Elantra as well cuz it doesnt excite me alot. just 2 cars from Asia that can really compete with it!

  44. Boris, ya know, I love small cars so much that I even appreciate Hyundai’s new Elantra design. I test drove a 1999 Hyundai Elantra in Dec.of 1998, didn’t buy but thought about it. For that matter, I test drove a 1998 Elantra and liked it, too. Hyundai and Kia have always captured my interest. Anyone here know anything about the Mazda RX-8, and if you know anything about that car, wasn’t there something negative buyers were complaining about with that car’s engine? Premature wearout, or something or the other. It’s a rotary engine, isn’t it? Something about sludge(no that’s Toyota)or something? Anyone know? No, I tell ya, Mazda is not my favorite, but I do look at their designs and they do have a unique style. I do like Mazda more than Nissan. The new Ford Fiesta should’ve been here 5 years ago for Ford. That small Ford is something new and interesting from them. They need that rig badly in the U.S., like yesterday.

  45. The “sludge” problem i think you’re referring to is the fact that the (yes its a rotary) engine uses too much oil & isn’t very economical. otherwise i haven’t heard any bad. OH! that its also twitchy on wet roads.

  46. Rotary engines are great but have a few drawbacks that have kept them from becoming more popular. They are very thirsty for their displacement and they eat through apex seals at a pretty fair rate (apex seals are the rotary equivalent of piston rings).

  47. the first time I saw a CGI animation of the rotary engine, I dint like it and felt the ICE is better.

  48. nope. never heard of mazda making mazdacoupe3. why? do you like coupes? the MX5 [Miata in USA?] is already there as a 2 seat sports car. mazda doesnt need a coupe of any of their cars IMO.

  49. Supposedly there’s talk of a Mazda 6 Coupe & i’ve seen pics, its hot. I think a Mazda 3 coupe would be nice, I’d def. be interested. Kia needs to hurry up & give us some more info on the Kia Koup. (i REALLY hope they keep the “koup” name BTW) Himi, do you know any info on the Koup????

  50. I’m hoping we get the 5 speed automatic here in the states. That will determine whether alot of people buy the Forte. Also, I too hope they make the Koup concept. It was hott!

  51. I dont think they have to do a lot of testing. its basically the the forte only with two doors and maybe lower. So that means we might not see many or any spyshots of it.

  52. I love the Mazda3. I’ve been looking at the 3 5-door as a replacement form my Kia Sorento along with the forthcoming Elantra Touring. Because the dealers have no clue when the Elantra is hitting showrooms, I was resigned to buying the 3. I prefer the Hyundai/Kia warranty, though…so now after seeing the Forte, I’m kinda jazzed and may wait until I can see them all at the 2009 Chicago Car Show. ‘Looks like Kia did a great job in design and ergonomics…can’t wait to see it in person!

  53. The Mazda3 i is fitted with a DOHC 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. It comes with a standard five-speed manual gearbox. The uplevel Mazda 3 s borrows the larger DOHC 2.5-liter four cyl with output rated at 167 hp and torque at 168 lb-ft. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the 2.5. Both engines can be ordered with a five-speed Sport-AT automatic.
    EPA fuel economy ratings are 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway with the 2.0 and manual transmission, and 21 city and 29 highway with the 2.5 and manual gearbox.
    The company is also offering, for the first time, an adaptive front lighting system with self-leveling bi-xenon headlamps.
    Options include rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, heated leather seats, a 10-speaker Bose audio system and Sirius Satellite Radio.
    will be joined later by a new five-door hatchback.
    Inside Line says: The new Mazda 3 should help reposition the Japanese automaker in a post-Ford world.

  54. dear…
    i have kia forte 2009 but the cataloge in koreas langauge i need it english
    best regards

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