Kia Motors America Inc. chooses New York to take the wraps off what it calls the “sportiest Kia ever.”

The Spectra5, a hatchback model of its new-for-’05 Spectra sedan, is slated for a summer launch, lagging three months behind its 4-door sibling.

Kia Spectra5.

The model, which Kia expects will capture some 30% of the total Spectra mix that is projected at 50,000 units annually, targets a young, performance-oriented customer. The LX sedan is expected to comprise 20% of the mix and the EX sedan the remaining 50%.

“As our brand continues to grow, it was imperative to develop the Spectra5 not just as a complement to the 4-door sedan, but rather a fun, exciting vehicle that stands out from the crowd and meets the needs of our young, active target audience,” says Peter M. Butterfield, president and CEO, Kia Motors America.

Kia says it will solidify Spectra’s new sporty direction at this year’s Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Assn. (SEMA) show, where it is doubling its floor space.

While fundamentally the same in nature as the 4-door Spectra, the Spectra5 benefits from sport tuning and more aggressive, performance-oriented styling cues.

The Spectra5 comes equipped with a sport-tuned, 4-wheel independent suspension and 16-in. wheels for a firmer ride and improved handling over its sedan counterpart. And Kia says its first-ever application of a strut tower bar makes for better steering response and turn-in.

Unique, sporty design features include a front spoiler, side sills, a rear valence and spoiler and black mesh grille. The performance theme carries into the interior, which features sport cloth seat trim, metal finish interior trim, metal pedals and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Standard pricing has not been set, but options include cruise control ($200), antilock brakes ($400) and power moonroof with tilt ($700).

Kia says the Spectra5, built at its Hwasung, South Korea, plant, will compete against the Toyota Matrix and Ford Focus ZX5.

kzachary@primediabusiness.com