On paper the new Nubira seems to offer it all, but behind the wheel things are still lacking. While an improvement on the outgoing model, the new car feels a generation behind the latest Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra models. The ride is much improved, and the steering responsive, but despite work on the manual gearbox it still feels sticky. The pedals also take some getting used to as they have a loose, imprecise feel, with little resistance when depressing the clutch.
Another problem which may be down to the redesigned engine management system is a driveline shunt which resulted in me being jerked backwards and forwards whenever pressing and releasing the accelerator. Peculiarly this only seemed to be present on the 1.6-litre engined models we tested. The 1.6-litre also feels underpowered, despite having 105bhp, forcing frequent down-changes on inclines.
The 2.0-litre is far superior for the £1,000 price premium, offering a more enjoyable driving experience and an even higher level of specification. Standard features include alloy wheels, driver and passenger airbags, ABS, side impact protection, seatbelt pretensioners, electric front and rear windows, electric heated door mirrors, remote central locking, alarm, immobiliser, air conditioning, fog lamps, adjustable lumbar support and metallic paint.
In fact it seems strange that Daewoo continues with its 1.6, when the rest of the upper medium market is pulling out of this sector, but the Korean manufacturer has hinted that a 1.8-litre engine and a diesel could arrive in the UK within the next couple of years. It is the 2.0-litre in its saloon and estate formats which are sure to interest the corporate customer. Fuel consumption has improved on the 2.0-litre, with combined economy creeping up from 29.7mpg on the outgoing model to 32.8mpg. And despite Daewoo not yet confirming its carbon dioxide emissions performance it is giving assurances that they will be well down on the outgoing model.
The old Nubira 2.0 CDX saloon produced 221g/km of CO2. Improved fuel economy, a revised engine management system and variable geometry induction system are expected to contribute to a dramatic cut in emissions. Visually the car has improved, with the front end redesigned to incorporate a new grille and headlights, while the greatest changes have been made at the rear. The back end, with its clear tail lights, has become quite attractive.
The car's interior has also been completely revamped and gone are the days of hard plastic, with a new soft touch dashboard. A new facia design, reshaped seats and new door trims finish the improvements which combine to give the car a more upmarket feel. It is predicted the new Nubira will sell about 2,500 units in its first full year, roughly the same as the outgoing model, making up about 20% of Daewoo's total UK sales of about 14,000 units. For fleets wanting a highly-specified, low-priced, workhorse for its reps, the Nubira offers a tidy package, particularly with the 2.0-litre engine. But image falls short of Mondeo and Vectra and companies hoping to save in front-end prices may lose out in human resources costs.