This will be my last post for the Hooniverse Early Korean Car Weekend, and I thought I would lump in all the forgettable Daewoo models for a final push into the deep. We all know that Hyundai and Kia have improved their product from something you settle for to something you aspire to (Well maybe except for the actual Ford Aspire), but even Daewoo has stepped up the quality of their offerings, now that it is under the GM umbrella. However, that wasn’t always so. Let’s take a look at the Daewoo Lanos, Nubira, and Leganza before GM gained control, and then look at the models that were offered with a myriad of nameplates all over the globe after GM acquired them.
A review of Daewoo would not be complete without at least mentioning the horrible Daewoo LeMans which was produced from 1986 through February of 1997. Thank God we never saw the Pontiac LeMans (or the Asüna GT, or the Asüna SE, or the Passport Optima that our friends to the north received) for that long when all of these variants disappeared from North America by 1994. This was probably the worst car ever to be sold in the US and Canada.
Daewoo ended their cooperative venture with GM by 1992, which paved the way for the first all new Daewoo to be introduced, the Lanos in 1996. It was a design from Giorgetto Giugiaro and Ital Design, and was equipped with the GM Family 1 D-TEC I4 engines ranging from 1.5 L SOHC to 1.6L DOHC. There was also a new face to go with these cars, which was an all-new 3-part corporate grill that was reminiscent of the Daewoo Corporate Logo. Worldwide, these cars were marketed under Chevrolet, FSO, Doninvest, Daewoo, and ZAZ Nameplates, and were assembled from Korea to Eqypt.
The next all new Daewoo to be produced was the Nubira in February of 1997. This particular model was designed by the Italian I.DE.A Institute rather that Giugiaro, and always looked somewhat different from other Daewoo models. This model was available as a 3-Door Hatchback, a 4-Door Sedan, and a 5-Door Wagon, powered by a range of GM designed engines with displacements from 1.6L to 2.0L. There was a slight face-lift in the year 2000, which tied in with the rest of the Daewoo line rather well. When these cars were built, they were built all over the world including: South Korea, Romania, Egypt, the Ukraine, Poland and Vietnam. Of course, the best thing about this car is the name: It is an Esperanto word, which means “cloud-going.” It was gone by 2002.
In March of 1997, the mid-sized Leganza was introduced, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, borrowing some styling cues of the existing 1990 Jaguar Kensington concept-car. This was marketed as a Junior Executive Car because of its size. The Leganza was powered by a 2.2L GM I4 E-TEC II that produced 134HP. To say that it was lethargic would be an understatement.
All Daewoo badged vehicles were gone from the North American market by 2002, when GM took control of the assets of the Automotive division of Daewoo Corporation. Which brings us to the successor to these star crossed cars. The Lanos was replaced with the Kalos, marketed by an unbelievable number of nameplates throughout the world including: Chevrolet Kalos, Chevrolet Lova, Daewoo Gentra, Daewoo Kalos, Holden Barina, Pontiac G3, Pontiac Wave, and the Suzuki Swift+. I’m not covering this model here.
Instead lets move onto the replacement for the Nubira, the Daewoo Lacetti. Fans of Top Gear UK should recognize this car as the Chevrolet Lacetti, but it also carried a number of nameplates throughout the world including: Buick Excelle, Chevrolet Lacetti, Chevrolet Optra, Chevrolet Nubira, Daewoo Lacetti, Holden Viva, Suzuki Reno, Daewoo Nubira, and the Suzuki Forenza. This car is built in all parts of the world as well including: Bupyong, South Korea; Bogota, Colombia; Valencia, Venezuela; Rayong, Thailand; Ha Noi, Vietnam; Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan; Miaoli, Republic of China; Asaka, Uzbekistan; and Halol, India. The US versions, marketed as the Suzuki Reno and Forenza came equipped with the 2.0 L 4-cylinder E-TEC II made by Holden, developing a maximum power of 126HP at 5600 rpm. These cars were gone by 2008.
The replacement for the Leganza was the Daewoo Magnus, and for North America, was equipped with a Daewoo-developed XK6 inline-6 DOHC engine that developed 155HP 5800 rpm. These were marketed as the Suzuki Verona, and in Canada as the Chevrolet Epica. The Verona was sold for only two years in the states (2002 – 2004) and are an increasingly rare sight, with the Epica soldiering on until 2006.
Daewoo is still designing and producing cars for markets around the world, just not under their name here in North America. Because of the orphaned nameplate, these cars will be handicapped with lousy resale values, and a problimatic part supply, making them virtually worthless as any kind of everyday vehicle. So, what do you think about the late, lamented Daewoo vehicles?
- Hooniverse Wagon Wednesday – The Daewoo Nubira, one of the most forgettable wagons ever.
- The Best eBay Listing Regarding the Daewoo Lanos We Have Ever Seen
- Hooniverse Do You Miss It Weekend – The Saturn Vue