1 Aug 1997
By CHRIS HARRIS
Daewoo was affiliated with General Motors until late ’92, when it went solo and developed a series of all-new models under the guidance of former Porsche AG engineer Ulrich Bez. However crippling losses in the latter part of the 1990s saw a bankrupt Daewoo bought out by GM in 2002. The new company, GM Daewoo, is part-controlled by Holden.
The front-wheel drive Lanos was essentially a rebodied 1.5i/Cielo, the 1984-1991 General Motors Vauxhall small car built under license in South Korea by former GM affiliate and now wholly GM-owned Daewoo.
Daewoo used the talents of Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro to influence the agreeable look of the three-door, four-door sedan and five-door hatchback models sold here.
All featured the GM-sourced “Family One” four-cylinder engine of 63kW/130Nm 1.5-litre single-cam or 78kW/145Nm 1.6-litre twin-cam configurations. The former powered most Lanos’ sold here, which was the base SE three-door model.
Rivalling the Hyundai Excel/Accent and Toyota Starlet/Echo, the SE featured cloth trim, a radio/cassette player and rear window wiper. The four/five-door variants had central locking.
Air-conditioning was made standard from February ’98, followed by power steering in June 2000. A five-speed manual or four-speed automatic were the gearbox choices.
Better equipped was the limited edition LE four/five door Lanos from May ’98, which included power windows, a CD player and rear spoiler.
Sportier still were the three/four-door SX. Above the LE, it added the 78kW 1.6 engine, alloy wheels, a bodykit and some leather trim.
The Lanos sold steadily in Australia, buoyed by very keen pricing and Daewoo’s FreeCare service and warranty incentive.
But it was always dynamically mediocre, reflecting its ageing mechanicals and cheap build.