kia spectra on blurred beach background for throwback thursday

Throwback Thursday: Kia Spectra

Kia Spectra Model History and Photos

There used to be a simpler time…

A time when people weren’t buried in their phones at dinner with one another…

A time when drivers had to use maps, or print off directions from the internet…

A time where your choice in music was limited to the CDs you brought with you, or what was on the radio…

Was it a better time?

Not really, but there were things to admire about it! The spartan interiors of compact cars from years past made the car solely an instrument for transportation. Gone were the navigation systems, smartphone compatibility and automatic climate control. In their place stood relics – road maps, FM radio preset buttons and dials/switches for the air conditioner.

Compact cars were simple instruments that offered very little in the way of refinement or flourish. Today, we’re talking about a legendary compact car from the recent past – the Kia Spectra.

Kia Spectra Model History

It’s common for vehicles to be released to different markets under different name badges. We’ve shared Kia models in the past, like the Pride and the Amanti that appeared as different models in other markets. Some of the models may have continued or discontinued earlier in other markets.


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What’s rare, however, are two models sharing the same badge in another market. The Kia Spectra, however, did just that.

Originally known as the Kia Sephia, the Spectra was introduced to the United States in 1997. From the 1998 model year through the 2000 model year, the Sephia was Kia’s compact sedan. In 2000, Kia rebranded the Sephia hatchback as the Spectra.

The two were sold alongside one another until 2001 when the 2002 model year was announced with a facelift. Both models were consolidated under the name Kia Spectra. Three trim levels were offered, the minimalist S, mid-line GS and top-class GSX.

This is where it gets interesting. For the 2004 model year, Kia continued the Spectra name in the United States but replaced the car under the badge with the new Kia Cerato. Kia also rebranded the hatchback Spectra, now calling in the Spectra5, a naming method that has continued to this day.

In 2006, Kia replaced the Spectra with the Forte, and the rest is another chapter of history.

Kia Spectra Photos

Unlike the stylish Amanti, or insane Kia Brisa featured in previous Throwback Thursday issues, the Kia Spectra lacks a real sense of style. Its minimalist attitude to design and embellishment is itself a statement, however. The Spectra was, above all, a very reliable small car…and not much else.

Still, we were able to round up some photos of the Spectra. As with all of our previous Throwback Thursday posts, it’s important for us to emphasize that Instagram’s content control isn’t perfect. Click through to the original posts at your own risk.

Намыл ракету😎🚀 #kiaspectra

A post shared by Максим (@makson966) on Dec 24, 2017 at 7:15am PST

A post shared by Tricar888 (@tricar888) on Dec 21, 2017 at 3:24am PST

A post shared by Costa Rodi (@costa_rodi) on Oct 30, 2017 at 12:52pm PDT

You’ll notice from these images that the Kia Spectra is treasured to this day by owners around the world. While we prefer included navigation through Apple CarPlay, internet radio and a ton of active safety features, there may be something to be said yet for the minimalist attitude of the Spectra.

For more information on current Kia models, or to schedule a test-drive, contact us today!


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