2000 Spectra New Car Test Drive
Conventional wisdom says Americans don't like three-door hatchbacks. This wisdom, based on sales, says Americans like five-door hatchbacks even less than they like three-door hatchbacks.
Because of this, Kia had not originally planned to offer its popular five-door hatchback in America. Then a group of American dealers saw the Spectra in Korea; they convinced Kia management that Americans would go for the Spectra. So Kia management decided to take the risk and introduce the five-door hatchback to the U.S.
Kia Spectra is based on the Kia Sephia sedan. It is powered by the same 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine. The Spectra, however, has sportier pretensions. According to Kia, the sporty Spectra is geared toward a younger buyer who 'hates traditional neckwear' and subscribes to the motto, 'So many women, so little time.' At first, we thought Kia's U.S. marketing department, noted for its sense of humor, was kidding with those descriptors, but maybe not. The company was certainly serious when it set Spectra's base price at just $10,795. If price sells cars, then we could see a lot of Spectras rolling off showroom floors.
The Spectra lineup consists of one body style: a hatchback with four passenger doors and a quasi-fastback roofline.
The base trim model is designated the GS and lists at $10,795. At $12,995, the Spectra GSX adds air conditioning, alloy wheels, power windows, central locking and an aggressive-looking body kit.
All Spectras are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 125 horsepower. They come with a 5-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic transmission ($975) driving the front wheels. Options include antilock brakes ($800) and CD stereo ($295).