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Future models - Daewoo - Lacetti - sedan

First look: GM's first Daewoo

European style: Famed Italian design house Pininfarina developed the looks of the J-200 sedan.

The latest Daewoo is the replacement for the Nubira, but don't expect it in Australia for a while

13 Nov 2002

MEET the replacement for the Daewoo Nubira, the small-medium car that will play a key role in the much maligned Korean company's resurgence here and internationally.

The car, codenamed J-200, will be launched at the Seoul motor show on November 21 and will be the first Daewoo to appear under the banner of GM Daewoo Auto and Technology, although it was developed by the old Daewoo Motor Company.

It will go on sale in Korea on November 25 where it will be called Lacetti, a name it could also adopt in Australia - when it eventually arrives.

Western Europe will get J-200 mid-2003, but Australia will have to wait until around September 2003 when right-hand drive production begins.

We have to wait that long even though Holden owns 44.6 per cent per cent share of GMDAT - the company which acquired key assets from bankrupt Daewoo Motor Company last month - and takes over the control of local distribution of the Daewoo range via General Motors Daewoo Australia in December.

And of course the Australian involvement doesn't end there with the Fishermens Bend-built Family II four-cylinder engine set to power the car.

The J-200 Nubira will be the second all-new Daewoo the Holden-controlled local distributor will introduce here, with the Lanos-replacing Kalos mini due in March or April. The five-door hatch is expected first followed by the four-door sedan. The car is available with the choice of 1.4 and 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines but Australian spec is not finalised.

Meanwhile, the Magnus mid-size car - which includes among its power choices an inline 2.5-litre six-cylinder engine - now appears almost certain not to come to Australia because of the lack of right-hand drive manufacture. Its predecessor, the Leganza, will soon expire here.

That means Kalos and Nubira will be expected to carry most of the responsibility of lifting the Daewoo franchise back through 15,000 sales in 2003 to 20,000 in 2004, with support provided by the Matiz super-mini and Tacuma compact people mover. This year Daewoo is forecast to sell about 10,800 cars in Australia "The J-200, like very new model, is going to be very important to us in terms of driving Daewoo back into the marketplace where it needs to be," said GMDA managing director Graeme Coverdale. "And so we are relying very heavily on new models." Mr Coverdale said no decision had yet been made on whether to go with the Lacetti or Nubira name in Australia: "In the case of the Lanos-Kalos we have elected to follow the Korean nameplate and we are approaching that as a new car together with a new company and let's go from here.

"So while we haven't finally decided on the name of the replacement for Nubira we are looking at that and Lacetti.

In its home market, the J-200 will be powered by a 1.5-litre engine but in Australia the debate is over whether it will come with a 1.8 or 2.0-litre engine.

The preference locally is for the 2.0 - the same size as the current J-150 Nubira - but the on-sale date is so far away mechanical specification, equipment level and pricing is nowhere near locked down.

However, it is expected that as per the current model, the new Nubira will be offered in one well-specified level of equipment with pricing starting as close to the current $19,990 entry price as possible.

What is known is that the J-200 is based on all-new platform and will be built in three bodystyles - sedan, wagon and five-door hatchback. The latter will not be considered for Australia.

The engines mate to a carry-over five-speed manual gearbox or a ZF four-speed dual-mode and adaptive automatic which is already seen in the Tacuma. Suspension is also the familiar MacPherson strut set-up.

The J-200 sedan measures up slightly shorter than the J-150, but is also a fraction wider and higher, liberating more interior space.

Unusually, the sedan is styled by Pininfarina, while the five-door is styled by Ital Design. As a result the two cars have different faces.

Daewoo says it has paid particular attention to noise, vibration and harshness reduction, using a new system it calls Total Noise Restraint (TNR).

It also says it has boosted safety by a 40 per cent increased use of high-tension steel in the body.

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