Three new names will soon be added to the 425 already affixed to the various car and truck models available in the United States when Daewoo Motor America begins selling cars here Aug. 28. Prepare to meet Lanos, Nubira and Leganza.
After spending a week in each of Daewoo’s new cars, here are my impressions of the "newest kids on the block" in what is already a crowded U.S. market.
Lanos proves lively
At the low end of the Daewoo lineup lies the Lanos – a car roughly equivalent to another Korean car, the Hyundai Elantra. Without a doubt, this is probably the car that is the most likely to succeed of all the Daewoo products. However, the success of the car hinges largely on pricing. Official prices have not yet been announced, but Daewoo claims the Lanos will sell anywhere from $9,000 to $12,000, depending on equipment. In the United States, two body styles will be available: a three-door hatchback and a four-door sedan.
In either case, a Daewoo-designed four-cylinder engine that produces a class-leading 105 horsepower drives the front wheels. It can be mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.
The long list of standard equipment that comes on the Lanos is truly impressive. It includes a stereo cassette radio, foldable rear seat back, power door locks, a passenger side power mirror, power windows and ABS - all for just $9,000. Our test model was a fully optioned four-door sedan outfitted with a power moonroof, alloy wheels, an AM/FM with a CD/cassette player, and remote entry.
Frankly, we were impressed with the on-road manners of the Lanos. Acceleration felt like it was significantly better than other cars in this class. The car is also relatively entertaining to drive. It has reasonably precise steering that makes the car feel agile. In fact, the Lanos is so agile Daewoo might consider making a high-performance version of the car. A larger set of tires and a few engine tweaks could turn this car into a real pocket rocket - sort of a ‘90s Dodge Colt Turbo or Honda CRX. It might really help rev up Daewoo’s image - literally - in the eyes of college students, the company’s target market.