2008 Kia Spectra5 Reviews
Kia's Spectra5 hatchback heads into 2008 with only minor changes, since it was restyled for 2007. It competes with several models in a growing market of small hatchbacks. Notable competitors include the Nissan Versa hatchback, the Honda Fit and the Mazda3 hatchback.
Equipped with a sport-tuned suspension, the hatchback is meant to attract younger 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 Spectra sedan and Spectra5 hatchback body styles are similar in appearance, but Kia promotes the hatchback's "more extroverted personality [and] athletic stance." Like the SX 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 about 6 inches longer overall.
The Spectra5 has what Kia calls an "assertive" front end, which features a black mesh grille. Fog lamps are installed. A strut tower bar provides additional torsional rigidity, and the Spectra5 has a fully independent suspension.
Inside, there's a center console with dual 12-volt power outlets and metallic dashboard accents. An auxiliary jack is included with the audio system for interface with iPods or other MP3 players, and a six-CD changer is optional.
The Spectra5 can seat up to five. The hatchback has a folding backseat that can expand cargo volume beyond the basic 18.3 cubic feet. A large rear opening on the Spectra5 hatchback makes it easy to load. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob plus metal pedals are 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 the optional, revised four-speed automatic transmission. In five states, the Spectra5 equipped with Kia's old four-speed automatic has an environmentally friendly SULEV rating, but that engine produces 136 hp.
Antilock brakes are optional. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are standard.
Maneuverability is a strong point for the Spectra5, which serves as a satisfying urban runabout. Unlike some small cars, it can be fun to drive and it easily 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 backseat is modest.
The engine is quiet in moderate driving, but it gets noisier while accelerating. Lower-body add-on components on the Spectra5 reduce the ground clearance of this hatchback, making it an unwise choice on snow-covered pavement.