Kia Spectra

The Kia Spectra is a compact car manufactured by South Korea-based automaker, Kia Motors. It remained in production from 2000 to 2009. The car was introduced as a liftback version of the Kia Sephia, which launched in 1992. The name Sephia is short for: style, elegance, powerful, hi-tech, idea, and auto.

More on the Kia Spectra
Kia Spectra Origins

The first generation of the Kia Sephia launched in several countries, including the U.S., in 1992. A 1.5-liter, inline-four engine delivers 79 hp to power it. Another optional four-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine delivers 105 hp, while a 1.8-liter engine offers 122 hp. The Sephia aims to replace the Kia Capital, and it became quite popular within its first year.

In 1997, the second generation of the Sephia came with a completely redesigned four-door sedan. The five-door liftback version launched in 2000 under the name Kia Spectra, which marked the first time the company used the name. An in-house engine, developed with the help of Mazda, powers it.

The Kia Sephia label phased out of the South Korean market in 2000 and the Kia Spectra name replaced it, which remained a constant for the rest of the car’s production life. However, the Kia Spectra sold as a separate model from the Sephia in other markets until 2001. From 2002 onwards, the entire range of cars moved under the single Kia Spectra banner. Other updates in this model year include three new trim levels for the U.S. market: the entry level S, mid-level GS, and high-end GSX. All cars contain either a DOHC 1.5-liter engine, or a DOHC 1.8-liter engine. This generation of the Kia Spectra continued until 2003.

About the Kia Spectra

As a compact car, the Kia Spectra intends to be easy on the pocket in terms of ownership expenses and affordability, and it performs these roles well. However, a good economy car also aims to give the owner a touch of luxury, and the Kia Spectra fails to do this. Its successor, the Kia Forte, seems to have gotten it right. The Kia Spectra, however, comes across as a cheap car. It performs in an unrefined manner because of a noisy engine, and the quality of construction is also quite poor. In fact, this car helped create the cheap car image among Americans about Korean cars. The second generation Kia Spectra changes this to an extent with its more stylish exterior, but that did not salvage its situation. By the time production of the Kia Spectra came to an end with the 2009 model year, the car still remained in the bottom of its segment.

Kia Spectra Features

2009 marks the last model year for the Kia Spectra in the U.S., and it witnessed the continuation of the second generation Kia Spectra. The most recent Spectra can hold four people comfortably. It comes as a hatchback and compact sedan. An underpowered 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine delivers 138 hp to both versions of the car. The Kia Spectra comes with a five-speed manual transmission as a standard and offers a four-speed automatic as an option.

The Kia Spectra also comes in three trim levels: the LX, EX, and SX. The hatchback version of the car is only available in the SX trim level.

Kia Spectra Evolution

The first generation of the Kia Spectra coincided with the second generation of the Kia Sephia. It began with the release of the liftback version of the Sephia. The car sold as a separate variant model of the Sephia for a year until Kia Motors decided to rename the car the Kia Spectra. The trim level nomenclature also changed accordingly. The first Kia Spectra, with modified in-house engines and an improved cabin air-conditioning system, continued production well into 2003.

The Kia Spectra badge continued after 2003 with the launch of the Kia Cerato in South Korea, in 2003. The Spectra name was used in the North American market for the 2004 model year. The new generation Kia Spectra shared its platform with the Hyundai Elantra. Moreover, the car also used the Beta II engine from Hyundai. This would change with the introduction of the revised GEMA engines in 2006. Cosmetic changes include the removal of a pronounced crease in the bumper and headlamps, especially around the front grille. Apart from this, the trunk of the car looks more rounded, and the taillights have a modified shape. The Kia Spectra ceased production in 2008 when the second generation of this compact car was renamed the Kia Forte. In some markets, the car sells under the Cerato badge.

Select a Kia Spectra Year

2009 Kia Spectra

Compact, Sedan

The 2009 Kia Spectra is the compact car offering from the Korean car manufacturer, Kia.

2008 Kia Spectra

Compact, Sedan

The 2008 Kia Spectra has several good traits including its more-than-reasonable price.

2007 Kia Spectra

Compact, Sedan

Although a failure early on in the economy vehicle market, the Kia Spectra has improved.

2006 Kia Spectra

Compact, Sedan

The 2006 Kia Spectra classifies as a four-door sedan manufactured by Kia Motors America.

2005 Kia Spectra

Compact, Sedan

The 2005 Kia Spectra has a sedan body style with a total of three versions available.

2004 Kia Spectra

Compact, Hatchback, Sedan

2003 Kia Spectra

Compact, Hatchback, Sedan

The 2003 Kia Spectra sells as a sedan or five-door hatchback from the Korean manufacturer.

2002 Kia Spectra

Compact, Hatchback, Sedan

The Kia Spectra is in hatchback and sedan designs, which are deceptively similar and is partly its appeal.

2001 Kia Spectra

Compact, Hatchback, Sedan

2000 Kia Spectra

Compact, Hatchback, Sedan

The 2000 Kia Spectra makes a great addition to the expanding lineup of Korean car manufacturer, Kia.