Dynamically it’s no threat to the class best, but it has lots of goodies, roomy interior and fine build quality. Shame it’s four-door-only for now
2 September 2003

Just 12 months ago Daewoo looked set to become an ex-car maker yet today the now GM-owned Korean concern is peddling a new supermini, the Kalos, the Nubira saloon and, at the Frankfurt Motor show next month, will unveil the smartly styled Focus-sized Lacetti hatch. Much to the frustration of Daewoo’s UK arm though, the Lacetti won’t appear here until next spring.

The Pininfarina-styled notchback will never be remembered as one of Sergio’s best efforts, but a peek under the rear bumper reveals an expensive-looking multi-link suspension setup proving that this Daewoo means business. Among other current C-segment contenders, only the Focus gets an independent rear although Volkswagen’s next Bora also ditches the torsion beam.

The Nubira is competent on the move but doesn’t even try to engage you like a Focus over demanding roads, lacking the Ford’s steering feel and rolling when pushed along a decent road.

But the average buyer – as likely to book a fortnight in Ayia Napa as doorhandle their motor on the way to work – will be more disappointed by the pattery ride than trailing a Focus by two seconds around Brands Hatch.

Daewoo hasn’t forgotten its core strengths though. The £10,999 SX comes with a 108bhp 1.6 and enough goodies to shame the £1755 pricier Focus LX, including front and side airbags, air conditioning, a six-speaker stereo and four electric windows.

Add a grand for the CDX and you get climate control and bigger alloys, and the 120bhp 1.8-litre engine which sprints to 60mph in 9.5sec and on to 121mph. Cabin room is generous, the instruments clear and materials expensive-looking – fake wood and PVC-style leather wheel rim excepted.

Dynamically, the Nubira may still be some way off matching the best in class, but it’s a competent car and one that will appeal to prospective owners due to its space and value for money. It’s the Lacetti hatch that will be the one to watch.

Chris Chilton

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