Kia Unveils its Spectra Replacement in Korea

The Kia Spectra has been a steady seller here in the states. While not a real threat to cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the Spectra was still a decent alternative at a much lower price point. Recently though, Kia has made a major effort to get on the same level as its competitors and make a standout product.

Recently in Korea, Kia showed the results of all those efforts. Aptly named the Forte, the new, small Kia will replace the Spectra here in the U.S. market and hopefully establish Kia as a real player in the compact segment, instead of a backmarker. At the car’s launch here in the states, Hyundai said it expects to sell about 220,000 Fortes, with annual volume growing to 250,000 by 2010. This is including 170,000 exports to such markets as Russia, Central Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.

A newly-revised, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine is slated for such markets as North America and Canada. While U.S. pricing has not been announced yet, in the Korean domestic market the Forte will start at just over $11,000 when the car goes on sale next week at local Kia dealers.

No word yet on whether Kia will stick to the Spectra name here in the U.S. or go with Forte. My guess is that they will use the new name as the Spectra badge doesn’t hold much weight with Americans. Instead, it would be better to try and establish the Forte name. No word yet on when the car is coming to the U.S. but chances are it will debut early next year as a 2009 or 2010 model.

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Will the new Forte finally establish Kia as more than just a bit player?