ST CLOUD, MINNESOTA -- Well I bought a Kia Sephia about 6 months ago. This was probably the greatest purchase of a car I have ever made. I have the 5-speed manual so it gets 30 MPH in town and 36 on the highway. The brakes were slightly wearing out, so then I replaced them with OEM cross drilled rotors and brake pads (I had a kit to change the rear drums to rotors) and the car stops way faster than any other car I have driven (2,551 curb weight, go figure). With the small low gear ratios, it feels like I'm in a more powerful car than what it really is.
After a while of driving and enjoying this car for what it was, I needed some more excitement out of it. So I went out and purchased a double thick head gasket and bought a T-25 turbo w/ intercooler and BOV for the car. I also upgraded the ridiculous ignition with a Jacobs ignition kit. Then I upgraded the fuel pump to a walbro255LPH and Accel 18 lb injectors on stock fuel rail. I also decided to get an ACT aftermarket clutch for it.
After 7,000 miles of driving with the turbo, the car still runs great like it did when I first bought it. It's really exciting to be able to pay 1,400 (brake upgrade - 400, turbo -300, intercooler -125, blow off valve -100, fuel pump - 89, injectors - 140, ignition kit - 240, clutch - 225) so I spent a total of about 3,000 on a really awesome, fun-to-drive, reliable quick car and still gets 25+ MPG. In case no one else knew, the 1.8 DOHC is actually the same iron block as a Mazda engine so if you're interested in performance upgrades, most of the parts are interchangeable with the Mazda engines.
I am shocked to see all of the problems people have with these cars. I have fallen in love with mine. The only problem I have is the parking brake doesn't work and the transmission grinds into 2nd a little when it's cold. The car has 90,000 miles and is still running as strong as any 200HP car does.
CENTRAL, NEW JERSEY -- I just hit 54,000 miles and the car started bucking so bad I couldn't control the car. I brought it to the dealership, they call me to tell they want to fix everything but the problem. They mention I need brakes ($235), then they tell me the bucking is my plugs/wires (that will be $135). I replace it. 1 week later, it's back at the dealership. The bucking never stopped. Then they replied to me the engine and electrical system were perfect (including the plugs & wires). I needed a new clutch ($650). I asked for a guarantee, he WOULDN'T give me one. I asked him if the car was safe and told yes, nothing would happen, except maybe slipping out of gear (which it never does or ever has).
1 week later, I am driving down the road (still bucking) and the car loses control. I lose the throttle, steering, everything. The pedal was useless, my brakes useless. I had it towed to a different Kia dealership. Their response... PLUGS & WIRES!!!! They refused to touch the car unless I paid them $180 for plugs & wires and then $80 for them to look at it.
I contacted Kia consumer relations and their response: "That's your choice." It's the worst company. I was ripped off and anyone who has a Kia is in danger!!! I towed it to a REAL mechanic and he fixed the problem $250 later. It was a warranty issue. Also, it was my throttle position sensor. I could have been killed or killed someone else. BEWARE!!!!