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By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview Slotted between the subcompact Lanos and the midsize Leganza in both size and price, Daewoos Nubira comes as a front-drive compact sedan and wagon. The sedan comes in base SE and step-up CDX price levels. The Nubira wagon is available only in the CDX trim.
Daewoo had big plans when it entered the U.S. market for the 1999 model year, but since then, the South Korean automaker has run into serious financial woes. Despite a 117 percent sales hike in 2000, with more than 68,000 cars going to customers, Daewoo has remained for sale. Ford first emerged as the highest bidder, but that sale fell through. In September 2001, GM signed a nonbinding agreement to acquire control of bankrupt Daewoo for $400 million.
Exterior More distinctive in appearance than a lot of smaller cars, the Nubira rides a 101.2-inch wheelbase and measures 177 inches long overall, which is 2.4 inches longer than the Honda Civic sedan. The Nubira is 66.9 inches wide and stands 56.3 inches tall.
Interior The Nubira seats five occupants. The trunk holds 13.1 cubic feet of cargo, and the 60/40-split rear seat folds down for additional space. With the backseat folded, capacity increases to nearly 32 cubic feet.
Remote keyless entry with a theft alarm, air conditioning, and power windows, locks and mirrors are standard on the CDX model and optional on the SE. An in-dash CD player is standard, and the CDX can be fitted with optional leather seating. Neither of these features is available on the SE.
Under the Hood A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine develops 129 horsepower and teams with a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission. Antilock brakes are standard on the CDX sedan but not offered on the lower-priced SE model.
Driving Impressions More refined and considerably more substantial than the little Lanos, the Nubira takes aim at the likes of the Toyota Corolla and undercuts nearly all competitors with its low prices. Because of its short life in the marketplace and its questionable future, the Nubiras reliability and durability are still unknown.
A comfortably composed ride and ample front/rear passenger space must be matched against performance thats no more than adequate for this league. The Nubira exhibits more confident handling than the Lanos, and its suspension absorbs a sizable share of road imperfections. With an automatic transmission, the Nubira is exceptionally easy to drive and maneuvers well. The manual-shift Nubira proved to be considerably less pleasing by exhibiting excessive driveline play, and it is imperfectly matched to an ill-behaved clutch. Sound insulation is better than that of the Lanos.