You'll Like The 2008 Kia Spectra If...
If your brain says no frills, but your gut says go for more than just value and versatility, the sporty 2008 Kia Spectra5 SX should win a slot on your shopping list.
You May Not Like The 2008 Kia Spectra If...
If you think good handling is wasted without the proper horsepower to back it up, the Spectra5's four-cylinder engine isn't going to win you over.
No major changes for 2008.
Even if you don't have problems with headroom, you'll immediately notice the Spectra5's vaulted ceiling-like canopy. The modern, attractive interior features a silver-ringed center console with controls placed within easy reach. More than one reviewer, however, had trouble getting comfortable in the driver's seat. As you might expect from a tall vehicle with eight windows, visibility is good. Rear-seat passengers are treated to legroom in line with the car's impressive headroom, and the versatile cargo area is substantial with the 60/40-split rear seat folded down.
As we've become increasingly accustomed to the tall hatchback design that we're seeing more often, we think the 2008 Kia Spectra5 looks pretty sharp. Sporty styling includes integrated fog lamps up front and a rear spoiler. The 16-inch alloys are adequate in style and size, but bigger wheels and tires might serve the Specrta5's stance even better.
You can spin the tires if you try, but otherwise the Spectra5's 138-horsepower 2.0-liter 16-valve four-cylinder is nothing to write home about. Shifting could be smoother as well. With the "sport-tuned" suspension the 2008 Kia Spectra5 earns its stripes when pushed, with good response when driven enthusiastically and four-wheel disc brakes that can bring everything to a stop in a hurry. Ride quality is good, but we found that a decent crosswind can have its way with the tall, lightweight five-door. In the end, if you subscribe to the theory that it's better to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow, the Spectra5 might be ready to show you a good time.
The 2008 Kia Spectra5 SX with manual transmission has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $16,500. Add in the automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, remote start, six-disc CD changer and power moonroof, and the price tops out around $19,000. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price as well as the Incentives tab. Though it may appear a great bargain at the time of purchase, the Spectra5's resale value cannot match those of the MAZDA3, Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla over time.
The Spectra5 sports an impressive list of standard safety equipment including front airbags, front-side airbags and front-to-back side-curtain airbags. Also notable as standard are a six-speaker CD stereo, auxiliary audio input jack, air conditioning, power windows and locks, keyless entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, sport seats, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler and fog lamps.
The Spectra5's options list is a short one, comprised of a four-speed automatic transmission, a six-disc CD/MP3 changer, remote engine start (automatic only), anti-lock brakes (ABS) and power moonroof.
Leather Wheel and Shifter
The Spectra5's leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob further the sporty hatchback's performance feel.
Front Strut Tower Bar
A metal bar spanning the width of the engine compartment stiffens the front end and contributes to crisper steering response and handling.
Under the Hood
The Spectra5's 2.0-liter engine just doesn't have the get-up-and-go to make this vehicle's moves match its racy looks. The Kia powerplant lacks the refinement mastered by Honda and Toyota, and even pales when compared with the 2.0-liter engine found in the Ford Focus. On the flip side, the Spectra5's highway fuel economy is very attractive.
2.0-liter in-line 4
138 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 (manual), 24/32(automatic)
In America the hatchback seems to fall in and out of favor with regular frequency. Young drivers appear to like them at the moment, so they are back in vogue. Whereas earlier hatchbacks, such as the Honda Civic and Volkswagen GTI, had only two doors, today's hot hatches have four (five if you count the hatch itself). The 2008 Kia Spectra5 follows this logic, providing the interior room and accessibility of the Spectra sedan in a sportier package that closely mimics the hottest of hot hatches, the Mazda MAZDA3s. While the Spectra5 can't yet match the Mazda in the areas of performance, features and resale, it does offer an inexpensive alternative with a lot of aftermarket potential. Don't forget that Kia's incredible 10-year/100,000 powertrain warranty comes standard, too.