The 2009 Kia Spectra5 is the Korean manufacturer's sporty four-door hatchback that is the slightly bigger brother of the Rio5. Offering a budget price with stable performance, comfortable and relatively spacious interior, and Kia's famous long warranty, the Spectra5 is a great little car in a rapidly growing class of compacts. This year's Spectra5 is basically a carryover from last year with not much new to report.
2009 Kia Spectra5 Performance
There is just one engine available in the Spectra5 and that is the 2-liter four-cylinder that produces 138hp and 136lb-ft of torque. It features a five-speed manual transmission with four-speed automatic as an option, although for decent acceleration and power the manual is by far the best option.
This is by no means a performance vehicle, and if you keep that in mind it is quite a fun run-around. The Spectra5 runs on sports-tuned suspension with slightly wider tires than the Spectra, so it handles with somewhat more responsiveness and the highly recommended option of the four-wheel disc brakes manage to bring it to a stop quickly and without too much noseplow. Having said that though, when you put the Spectra5 through its paces on twisty roads, the body lean is extremely noticeable, and because of its high center of gravity and light weight, crosswinds will push it around more than you would like. Road noise can be a bit offputting and seems even louder in the Spectra5 than the Spectra.
The Spectra5 is small enough to have good fuel economy, with 23/30mpg city/highway for the manual and 24/32mpg for the automatic, which is on par with the competition.
For a fun and responsive driving experience, the Kia Spectra5 would not be the first choice in the compact class, with the Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic and Mazda3 offering more power and refined engineering. However the Spectra5 is slightly cheaper than the competition, and does offer the unbeatable 10year/100,000mile powertrain warranty which speaks volumes about its reliability claims.
2009 Kia Spectra5 Interior and Features
The interior of the Spectra5 manages to be made with enough quality that it is a comfortable place to be and does not suffer from the cheap and tacky look of many of the cars in this class. Although the single SX trim is fairly basic, the finish is reasonable and there are plenty of extra features to keep it up-to-date. Standard features include rear spoiler, air conditioner, cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control and full power features with keyless entry. There are split-folding rear seat to carry longer cargo easily, a stereo system with digital media connection, 12-volt power outlet, tilt steering wheel, automatically turning off headlights, fog lights and rear defogger.
Options packages can add the automatic transmission, ABS brakes, power sunroof and a 6-disc CD changer.
Interior space is surprisingly good, with plenty of leg and headroom in the front and even decent legroom in the back seat. One drawback is the unusually uncomfortable drivers' seat that lacks enough bolstering and lumbar support to find a good seating position. Cargo space is a class leader, offering 18.3 cubic feet of trunk space and the ability to fold the back seats down for a full 53 cubic feet - more than many SUVs.
2009 Kia Spectra5 Safety
The 2009 Kia Spectra5 offers reasonable safety features and in government crash tests scored five stars for front impact situations and four stars for side impact situations. While ABS brakes remain optional, there are front and rear crumple zones and strengthened door beams for extra protection, as well as front seat adaptive headrests to prevent whiplash, and dual front, front side and side curtain airbags.
- Dual front, front side and side curtain airbags
- Adaptive headrests
- Tire pressure monitor
- Emergency trunk lid release
Overall the 2009 Kia Spectra5 is a great little hatchback that offers a surprising range of features and adequate performance for a small price. The Korean manufacturer has been working hard recently to prove itself against the big manufacturers like Honda, Toyota and Nissan, and although it will take some time to reverse the general attitude towards the Korean newcomers, their vehicles are now gaining serious recognition.