16 March 2004

Daewoo’s Matiz city car, the Korean company’s biggest UK success, will be replaced early next year. The new Matiz was delayed by a year after GM’s 2002 take-over, as the new owner wasn’t happy with the work in progress, but the second-generation car should be at Paris in September.

Following its 1998 launch, the Matiz has accounted for almost 30 per cent of Daewoo’s UK sales – that’s 58,000 cars.

GM Daewoo boss Nick Reilly said the new model ‘retains the character of the current car. We’ve changed the styling a bit. We’ve got to recognise the heritage of the car. On the other hand, it doesn’t work if you bring out something too similar.’

The rear end has come in for particular attention, and Reilly said much of the £68m set aside for development and manufacturing had been spent beneath the surface on improving ride, handling, driveability and crash protection. The Matiz received zero stars in its 1998 Autocar road test because of serious concerns over its stability.

The dimensions remain the same, although Reilly said the interior is roomier. Expect the new Matiz to be offered with the same choice of 800cc or 1.0-litre engines, influenced by tax incentives in the car’s home market. Daewoo has also announced a £215m agreement with Italian company VM Motori to build 1.5- and 2.0-litre diesel engines in Korea from early 2006.

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