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2005 Kia Spectra5

Across the washboard hills of Texas west of Austin we're tracing twisty Texas 620 through Buffalo Gap at Lake Travis to sample the sport-tuned suspension on a five-door hatchback variation of the compact Spectra sedan from Kia of South Korea.

Kia calls this street-cool car the Spectra5, with that number attached to the nameplate to denote a tail-side fifth door added for accessing the aft cargo compartment.

2005 Kia Spectra5

The concept mixes the spry road manners of a small four-door front-wheel-drive (FWD) sports sedan with the cargo-hauling capability of a pint-size SUV and the miserly fuel efficiency and attractive price points of an economy car. It's partly a sporty car styled like a street-racer hatchback, but also a small wagon as well as a thrifty runabout that's practical to use but fun to drive.

Spectra5 carries the same engine and running gear as the four-door sedan edition of Spectra, although the hatchback version earns a strut tower brace in front for improved torsional rigidity, front and rear stabilizer bars plus taut tuning of the four-wheel independent suspension system and 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped by tall P205/50R16 tires to boost its corner-hugging ability.

It also looks sharp in upright stance with curvy lines spread across a broad structure where wheels push the perimeters of the package and the body seems to hug the pavement.

The body reveals a swept-back face with high-arching roofline, slab-side flanks and the chopped-off tail treatment of a sporty hatchback. Spectra5's distinctive face is marked by a thick bumper lip in body-colored tint thrusting ahead of the chrome-capped grille, which tucks between oversized headlamp clusters shimmering like jewels from multiple round lenses.

Two keen creases at top edges of the grille attract the eye and draw it up the hood to define front fenders accentuated further by arching swells around frontal rims of the wheel wells. Those flared rims sweep rearward across flanks to form sloping shoulders set below a broad band of windows in side doors with center pillars fading to black to simulate the profile of a slick coupe.

At the stubbed tail there's a spoiler mounted high atop the hatchback lid. Below the hatchback window are enormous clusters of corner lamps plus a thick and smooth bumper in the body color.

Extra exterior adornments for Spectra5 include foglamps and a mesh insert in black for the grille, an enlarged air intake port in the fascia and the spoiler crowning the tail.

Two broad doors on each side provide access to front and rear seats in the cabin. Layout of the cabin appears conventional with two buckets up front and a folding bench in back that holds up to three riders. However, personal space for heads and shoulders and legs of passengers is definitely not the norm for a car in the compact mold -- the interior structure is tall, which accommodates seats that rise high like chairs and creates voluminous space for people and equipment. Sitting erect with hips elevated not only feels more comfortable than a slouched stance in the typical car seat but also sets the head in a commanding position so a driver can see more clearly outside the vehicle.

Official EPA measurement of the interior volume in Spectra5 totals to 98.1 cubic feet, which is more room than indicated from scores of other compact-class cars — it's even better than several mid-size models. And the cargo bay carves out 18.3 cubic feet of room.

Decor for the cabin consists of two-tone sport fabric upholstery covering seats and soft-touch plastics for hard-case surfaces such as the dashboard and console or map pockets on side doors. Spectra5 differs from Spectra the sedan by adding perforated leather to the steering wheel and shifter knob, metal-finish trim on dash and doors plus shiny metal pedals.

Now check the list of standard hardware on Spectra5 and you'll see that this car also exceeds convention for the caliber and quantity of on-board passive safety equipment.

The gear includes multi-stage frontal and side-impact air bags for front seat riders. In addition, side curtain-style air bags for outboard seats in front and back are concealed in the headliner above the doors. And stock brakes for Spectra5 bring a disc for every wheel, with an anti-lock brake system (ABS) optional.

Popping the hood reveals that Kia's treatment for Spectra5 encompasses an impressive engine, along with engineering innovations, which make the car quiet and ease to drive.

The four-cylinder powerplant, from an iron block with aluminum heads, displaces 2.0 liters and comes with dual cams on top and continuously variable valve timing (CVVT). It delivers 138 hp at 6000 rpm and torque up to 136 lb-ft at 4500 rpm.

The standard transmission is an easy-to-shift five-speed manual, although an electronically controlled four-speed automatic is an option. Mechanical hardware for keen handling includes a rack and pinion steering system with engine speed-sensing power assistance and the tweaked independent suspension system.

The suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement with struts in back, the additional stabilizer bars fore and aft, plus that front strut tower bar -- a first for Kia.

Kia Spectra5 Interior

The inventory of standard features ranges from air conditioning and power controls for windows and door locks to a remote keyless entry device, power-controlled external mirrors with heat elements, a rear window wiper and washer, the height-adjustable steering column and a stereo audio system with CD deck and six speakers.

And Kia supports this product with an impressive warranty program which extends well beyond protection for other vehicles -- the powertrain is insured for ten years or 100,000 miles, for instance, and there's a five-year or 60,000-mile shield against defects.

Price looks favorable too, with an MSRP down to $15,250 for the manual transmission or $16,225 with the automatic.


2005 Kia Spectra5
Compact-class 5-door hatchback
102.8 inches
Overall length:
170.9 inches
Engine size:


4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Power rack and pinion

Power 4-disc and optional ABS

Air bags:
2 (fr) 2 (side) 4 (side curtain)
Fuel mileage city/hwy:

Manual: 25/34 mpg
Automatic: 24/34 mpg


Manual: $15,250
Automatic: $16,225

For More Information Click: Kia Spectra5
For the Kia 2005 Model Guide : Click Here