Fleet News

Daewoo Kalos

Review

WHEN Daewoo first began selling cars in the UK, its network of direct sales outlets, free servicing programme, three-year warranty with roadside assistance and transparent pricing caused a stir in the motor industry.

There was a degree of animosity towards the company from franchised dealers with the result that the cars were never really accepted at their true value on the used market.

But things went reasonably well until the parent company in South Korea collapsed. After a false start when Ford was temporarily interested in buying what was left, General Motors is now in the final process of taking over the firm.

Also on board is Suzuki with another GM partner and Daewoo's creditors owning the rest of the company. So before the end of the year we should have a new company called GM Daewoo Auto and Technology, and in the UK a transition from a network of direct sales outlets to a conventional franchised dealer network (which has already begun).

The new GM Daewoo is keen to update the existing model range and in time will be able to take advantage of shared components.

The first new model on the scene is the Kalos supermini, which has been seen at motor shows over the past 12 months.

The Kalos will replace the Lanos and gets an upgraded version of the already proven 1.4-litre engine, with power up to 83bhp from 74bhp. There has been some work done on refinement too.

Styling is by Italian design guru Giorgetto Giugiaro's Italdesign studio and in the metal the Kalos is cuter than it appears in photographs with its robust Darth Vader-like grille and front bumper.

There is some neat detailing around the headlamps and wheel arches, while a third side window behind the C-pillar gives the impression of more space inside.

The interior is spacious with ample headroom and legroom front and rear, while its five-seater credentials are strengthened by three standard three-point seatbelts in the rear.

Luggage space seems to suffer though, with just 175 litres of capacity with the rear seats in place – some way short of the 250 litres offered in the Volkswagen Polo, the 260 litres offered by the Vauxhall Corsa and the 268 litres minimum in the Ford Fiesta.

However, GM Daewoo would argue that the Daewoo brand stands for value and reliability, rather than cutting-edge technology.

Test cars were in SX trim (there will be a lower SE specification) and all versions will include power steering, electric windows and passenger door mirror, ABS, a radio/cassette, central locking and alarm as standard. SX models add air conditioning and electric rear windows among the extra standard kit.

The Kalos is pleasant to drive. Its 83bhp engine picks up well from low revs and proves refined under normal driving.

It corners neatly with plenty of grip and nicely weighted steering. Despite its tall stance, body roll is well contained and the brakes have a positive feel. The downside is high fuel consumption. Even with 83bhp on tap, achieving just 37.7mpg on the combined cycle is unacceptable, particularly when Toyota's 84bhp Yaris 1.3 returns more than 47mpg.

From a benefit-in-kind tax perspective the resultant high emissions (175g/km) might be offset by a competitive entry price and high specification, but from a pure fleet running costs perspective, it leaves a big question mark alongside an otherwise fine car.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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