In summer 2004, a Spectra5 hatchback joined the Spectra sedan that had been redesigned earlier in the year. Equipped with a sport-tuned suspension, the hatchback is meant to attract youthful buyers. One version of Kia's Spectra sedan, the SX, features equipment that's similar to the Spectra5's. The Spectra sedan is listed separately in the cars.com Research section.
The Spectra5 rides on 16-inch tires and features front and rear spoilers, side sills and metal pedals.
The Spectra sedan and Spectra5 hatchback body styles are similar in appearance. Like the sedan, the Spectra5 features arches at each front fender and a sharp crease below the greenhouse. The sedan has a regular trunk, while the hatchback has a lift-up hatch. Their wheelbases are identical, but the sedan is 5.5 inches longer overall.
Both the Spectra5 and Spectra SX sedan have what Kia calls an "assertive" front end, which features a black mesh grille. Fog lamps and a rear spoiler are installed. A strut tower bar provides additional torsional rigidity, and the Spectra5 has a fully independent suspension.
Up to five occupants can fit inside the Spectra5 hatchback. The hatchback has a folding backseat that can expand cargo volume beyond the basic 18.3 cubic feet. A larger rear opening on the Spectra5 hatchback makes it easier to load. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard.
Under the Hood
The Spectra5 is powered by a 138-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that teams with a standard five-speed-manual gearbox or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission. In five states, the Spectra5 equipped with the automatic gearbox has an environmentally friendly Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle rating, but the car's engine produces 132 hp in this form.
Antilock brakes are optional. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are standard.
Maneuverability is a strong point for the Spectra5, which makes a satisfying urban runabout. Unlike some small cars, it can be fun to drive and it heads wherever it's pointed. Most drivers won't try to push this hatchback too hard through curves, but it handles well for everyday motoring. On straightaways, the Spectra5 tracks well with little correction needed.
Ride comfort is reasonably good — slightly above average — for a small car. Performance with the manual shift is eager but not exactly action-packed. Except for some clanking, the gearshift behaves as adeptly as those in many sporty cars. The seats are softly cushioned but provide satisfactory support. Space behind the back seat is modest.
The engine is quiet in moderate driving, but it gets noisier during acceleration. Lower-body add-on components on the Spectra5 reduce the ground clearance of this hatchback, making it an unwise choice on snow-covered pavement.
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