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By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview Changes are minor for the smallest model in Daewoos three-car U.S. lineup. Based in South Korea, Daewoo offers the Lanos as a two-door front-drive hatchback or a four-door S sedan. A Sport model is fitted with red leather seats and interior trim.
Daewoo managed a 117 percent sales increase in 2000, with more than 68,000 cars going to customers. The Daewoo automotive group has suffered massive financial losses, and as a result, the car business has been up for sale. Ford first emerged as the highest bidder, but that prospect fell through. In September 2001, GM signed a nonbinding agreement to acquire control of bankrupt Daewoo for $400 million.
Exterior Mounted on a 99.2-inch wheelbase, the two-door hatchback minicar is 160.4 inches long, while the four-door sedan measures 166.8 inches long overall. In comparison, the Ford Focus hatchback is 168 inches long, and the Focus sedan measures 175 inches. Both Lanos body styles are 66.1 inches wide and 56.4 inches tall.
Interior Daewoo claims the Lanos will seat five occupants, despite the modest size of the exterior. The sedans trunk offers 8.8 cubic feet of cargo volume, while storage space beneath the hatchback amounts to 31.3 cubic feet. The split rear seatback folds down for additional cargo space. A cassette player is standard.
Under the Hood All models use a 105-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed-manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional. Antilock brakes are optional, but side-impact airbags are not available.
Driving Impressions Compared to the larger Daewoo models, the Nubira and Leganza, and to most small cars on the market, the Lanos is loud and somewhat crude. Its easy to drive and kind of fun on the road. The Lanos actually harks back to minicars of the past, whereas rivals such as the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio more accurately typify the modern era.
Interiors are surprisingly spacious, in view of the cars modest external dimensions. Due to efficient packaging, passenger room is abundant even in the backseat - more so than in many larger automobiles. Stepping on the gas produces more noise than usable action, and the automatic transmission can get jumpy at times.