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GoAuto Oddspot: Mistaken identity

Daewoo beats Maserati to the blue-sky punch… by 30-odd years!

20 Jun 2022

MAAAATE check out my Cielo in the carpark… is something you would definitely not say if you’d just put down half a million bucks on Maserati’s latest and greatest drop-top sports car, the MC20 Cielo.


Why is that you ask?


Because here in Australia, the Cielo nameplate was attached to a singularly horrible little Daewoo small hatchback and sedan from the early 1990s – and perhaps even more embarrassingly, a car that was mechanically identical to the even more inappropriately named Daewoo LeMans.


The zero-star-rated Daewoo Cielo owed its existence to the even more horrible Opel Kadet, a cheap little European dunger that rattled itself to death around the streets of Europe in the 1980s.


Somehow in its fleeting existence, South-Korean-based Daewoo ended up with the thing no doubt as a result of an association with GM.


The cars were refugees from the dungeon of the auto industry -- Eastern Europe – complete with a wheezing 1.5-litre single cam four banger that struggled to grind out 65kW. There was a slurring three-speed automatic as an option or a five-speed manual gearbox that made the, um, most of what came from under the bonnet.


Flimsy garbage bin lid style wheel covers featured, as did a cheap plastic interior with an acrid chemical smell that simply wouldn’t go away no matter how much eucalyptus oil was used.


They sold a few here though; based on a price which hovered around $13,990 drive-away. But air-conditioning was an optional extra, as was the auto.


The Daewoo Cielo disappeared (fortunately) when the somewhat better Lanos appeared later in the 1990s before Daewoo sank in a sea of debt and GM murk. They didn’t have a chance…


Realistically, given its cheap price, the Cielo was probably OK for what it was at the time. It was, however, the grey-sky car with nothing uplifting about it at all. Thank goodness they have disappeared from our roads.


Which brings us to the other Cielo, Maserati’s blue-sky car.


Blue sky because that is the translation of the word Cielo and this high-performance piece of automotive gorgeousness has the benefit of a retractable hard top – a convertible.


That means you can get a tan while you whisk along at warp speed heading for where the genteel people go… wherever that is.


It’s all good in the Maserati Cielo starting with the butterfly wing doors opening onto two Alcantara clad sports seats. The roof folds in about 12 seconds while travelling at speeds up to 50km/. Beautiful!


Inside is all style with a sea of Alcantara and carbon fibre.


Then you fire up the 3.0-litre Ferrari/Alfa/Maserati twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine in preparation to unleash those 463kW and 730Nm on the way to accelerating from 0-100km/h in the sub-three-second bracket. Try doing that in a Daewoo!


Whoosh, not bad in a rear-wheel drive sports car weighing 1500kg.


It looks like a missile ready to launch and sounds like an earlier iteration F1 car as the exhaust emits a high-pitched wail on the way to the 8000rpm redline.


But it’s a silly thing, really, and you couldn’t put your golf clubs in the back seat like you could in the other Cielo. No passengers out for dinner either, and watch those driveway entrances on the low slung front bumper.


Be wary of envy, too, as it has a nasty way of revealing itself when you roll up in a half-million-dollar motor.


And be prepared to shell out thousands of dollars on service and maintenance. Other running costs would be just as (blue) sky high. Lock the garage, get CCTV in the house, and put the keys in a safe.


It all sounds too hard doesn’t it. Maybe the other Cielo wasn’t all that bad after all… it was certainly easy to live with, cheap to run and relatively reliable… That is, of course, when bits didn’t fall of it.

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