1 Oct 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.Unlike the 1984-vintage rehashed-1.5i/Cielo Lanos, the Nubira was an all-new small car built on a fresh platform.
Replacing the GM J-car (Holden Camira) derived Espero, the Nubira was aimed straight at Corolla and Camry buyers.
It was a giant leap in quality and driveability for the South Korean marque’s cars, although some of the engineering and drivetrain development was outsourced to the US and UK, with the basic design based on an Italian proposal.
Initially two four-door body styles arrived – an elegant sedan and boxy wagon – powered by the GM-sourced 78kW/145Nm 1.6-litre twin-cam 16-valve “Family One” four-cylinder engine. It was married to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox.
Performance was merely adequate rather than sprightly.
Equipment levels were good, with the SX offering air-conditioning, power steering, central locking, power windows, a CD player and fog lights. Minus the latter two, the entry level SE models arrived in May ’98, joined by a five-door hatchback version, while a Holden-sourced 98kW/185Nm 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine powered the flagship CDX sedan and wagon.
The CDX also featured alloy wheels, better audio and a rear spoiler, and all models could be had with an optional anti-lock brakes/dual airbag safety pack.
In late ’98 Daewoo imported 200 Nubira SE 1.6 “EuroSunHatch” models, offering a large fabric sunroof. The 1500-run Nubira X of March ’99 added a spoiler, CD player and alloy wheels.